PORTLAND – Dustin Cone of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Greg Sandell, the director of golf at Boothbay Country Club, rode hot putters in the first round of the Charlie’s Portland/Maine Open Tuesday at Riverside Golf Course.

Both had streaks of six straight birdies and finished with nine for the round. Cone didn’t have a bogey and sits atop the pack with an impressive 9-under-par 63.

Sandell mixed in three bogeys to finish with a 66. He said he didn’t have any expectations coming in since he had only played in three pro-ams before teeing off Tuesday and shooting his career-best tournament round.

“This is only my fourth round of golf,” he said. “Things started to click with my swing a week ago in a pro-am and I’m riding it.”

Sandell also credited a new putter with giving him added confidence. He made seven birdies in a pro-am at his home course a week ago.

Peter Kampmann of Riverside, Conn., and Mark Stevens of Concord, N.H., were tied for second after shooting 65s. Tim Desmarais, an assistant pro at Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth, shot a 67.

Former Maine Open winner Jerry DiPhilippo, an assistant pro at Portland Country Club, was in a group at 4-under 68. Joining DiPhilippo were Eric Higgins of Kennebunk; Sam Marzenell of Kennebunkport; Michael Welch of North Quincy, Mass.; Tommy Parker of Palm Beach, Fla.; and Michael Carbone of Brewster, Mass.

The nines are reversed for the tournament. The field was cut to the low 50 scorers and those within 10 shots of the lead for today’s final round.

Also making the cut in their categories were 10 Maine chapter pros, 10 senior pros and 20 amateurs, plus ties. A total of 94 players will play in the final round.

The winning pro will collect $10,000. Second place is worth $7,500, with the third-place finisher earning $5,000. This is the second year of the merger of the Portland and Maine Opens.

Ricky Jones of Thomaston and Jason Gall of Augusta led a large amateur contingent with 2-under 70s.

“I played alright,” said Jones. “The only mistake I made was on the par-4 third hole. My ball got under the lip in the bunker and I made a double bogey. After that, I made a bunch of pars and four birdies.

“The greens were rolling pretty true. The course is in good shape. It was definitely there for the taking in terms of shooting a low score.”

Cone, Stevens and Kampmann will tee off at 12:09 p.m. in the final group. Sandell, Desmarais and Parker will be in the second-to-last group.

Cone is playing at Riverside for the third straight year.

“I made a lot of putts,” he said. “Some I probably shouldn’t have made because they were in the 20- to 25-foot range, but I also missed four putts inside 6 feet.

“On this course you have a lot of 60- to 70-yard approach shots. If you don’t take advantage of the par 5s, you’re going to fall behind. The par 3s play very well here.”

Cone birdied the last five holes on the front nine and then No. 10.

Sandell’s first hole was No. 10. He got hot after making the turn with his six-birdie string beginning on No. 2. He parred No. 8 and then had his chip from the left of No. 9 lip out for birdie.

“I had two tap-ins for birdies, another one of about 4 feet, two in the 10 to 12 range and one bomb, a 30-footer on four.

“I really wasn’t paying attention to my score. I didn’t know the chip on nine that almost went in would have been for a 29.”

Kampmann is playing in the tournament for the first time. He walked the course on Monday.

“I took advantage of the par 5s, going 4 under on the three of them,” said Kampmann.

“I holed a bunker shot for eagle on the 13th, which kind of propelled my round.”

Defending champion Jim Renner of Plainville, Mass., who opened with a 65 last year, had an even-par 72. Shawn Warren of Windham shot a 70, as did Ross McGee of Fairfield and James Hazen of Miller Place, N.Y., last week’s Massachusetts Open winner.

Former Old Orchard Beach High golfer Rob Roylance, a pro from Orlando, Fla., shot 69.


Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]