Craig Steckowych of Greenland, N.H., had a golf-is-an-easy-game first round Tuesday in the New England Amateur, shooting a 65 and taking a one-shot lead. One day later, golf turned hard. Very hard. Steckowych shot a 79 and dropped to seven shots off the lead.
By Tom Chard
FALMOUTH — The two golfers ahead of the pack after the opening round of the New England Amateur faltered Wednesday, opening the door for Chris Swift of New Canaan, Conn., to take the lead at the Falmouth Country Club.
Swift was the only one of the first-day leaders to shoot under par for a second straight day. He stands at 5-under 137 after rounds of 68-69 for a one-shot lead heading into today's 36-hole final.
"I hit every fairway and green on the front side," said Swift. "I gave myself some putts at the hole and made a few. I feel like I have the green speeds down."
Swift eagled the par-5 eighth hole and had two birdies to counteract two bogeys.
Craig Steckowych of Greenland, N.H., the first-round leader, shot 14 shots higher, going from a 65 to a 79 for a 36-hole total of 144.
Brian Higgins of Bellingham, Mass., also struggled, going from an opening 66 to a 77 for a 143 total.
"I didn't feel badly today but bad things happened," said Steckowych, the 2001 champion. "The hole wasn't as big today. I started making some sloppy bogeys and my confidence fell down a bit. We're all amateur golfers. I'm living proof. Look at the disparity in my scores. That can happen to anyone. It got hard out there."
Higgins, the 2010 champion, said two bad swings cost him dearly. He hit his second shot on the eighth hole out of bounds and made double bogey. On No. 13, a par 4, he knocked his drive out of bounds and made a triple bogey.
"I lost five shots on two holes. They were killers," said Higgins. "The shot on No. 8 came out of nowhere. On (No.) 13, I decided to hit a driver off the tee instead of a hybrid. I didn't have a lot of confidence with the driver there and it cost me.
"I didn't feel any pressure at the start. I came out of the gate strong. I birdied the first hole, three-putted the second hole for a bogey but birdied the third hole. It kind of unraveled after that."
Casey Komline of Dorset, Vt., is in second place after rounds of 71-67 (138). Rounding out the top five are Colin Brennan of Andover, Mass., 71-69 (140); Herbie Aikens of Kingston, Mass. 68-73 (141); and Monte Mullen of Farmington, Mass., 75-67 (142) and John Curley of Centerville, Mass. 72-70 (142).
The cut fell at 6-over 148 with 42 players advancing
Five Maine players made the cut, led by John Hayes IV of Cape Elizabeth, who stands at 144.
Hayes opened with a 76 and came charging back with a 3-under 68, the day's second-best round.
Hayes was followed by Seth Sweet of Madison (145), Judd Parsons of York (147), Tommy Stirling of Gorham (147) and Joe Walp of Portland (147).
"I've been hitting the ball great for a while," said Hayes. "I finally made some putts."
Hayes will try to walk on to the University of Colorado golf team as a junior this fall.
He played his freshman and sophomore years at Towson (Md.) State.
Ryan Gay, the three-time Maine Amateur champion, couldn't stay hot after an opening-round 70.
Gay shot a 79 to miss the cut by one shot.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at email@example.com
Mike Dunham, a former UMaine goalie and current goalie coach for the New York Islanders, returned to the state for the New England Amateur but missed the cut.