Emily Bouchard of Saco knows all eyes will be on her Monday morning when she tees off in the Maine Women’s Amateur golf championship at Brunswick Golf Club.

She is, after all, the reigning champ — a two-time champ if you include her victory in the 2011 Women’s Maine State Golf Association championship, considered the unofficial state championship before last year.

But Bouchard, 23, isn’t feeling any additional pressure to repeat. She puts enough pressure on herself.

“Regardless of what the historical record is, I expect to play at the ability and level I know I can play at,” she said.

And that’s pretty good. She finished fifth recently in the New England Amateur and has played well so far this summer. Of course, she said, in golf that doesn’t mean anything. “You never know, I might not have my swing one day, then you’re scrambling.”

She’ll be going against a strong field that includes Leslie Guenther (Norway Country Club), Kristen Kannegieser (Martindale), Lori Frost (Bangor Muni), Mary Brandes (Woodlands) and Monica Austin (Woodlands).

On any day, said Brandes, any of them can shoot a low score at Brunswick

“I think the course is favorable for a lot of people,” she said. “It’s not so long that someone like Emily will out-drive everyone else. She’s certainly got a leg up on everyone else. She’s won it before.

“But I think there are probably 10-12 people who can put in some low scores.”

The key, said Brandes, is to do it over three days. A lot of people can shoot a low score one day. The consistent scorers are the ones who will be in the hunt for the title.

Austin, a 17-year-old from Yarmouth, hopes to be in that lead pack. She’s finished second in the last two schoolgirl individual championships and is one of Maine’s top junior golfers.

“I think I’m ready, but it’s going to be a challenge,” she said. “There are definitely a lot of great women, a lot of great golfers, in this tournament. I’m hoping to see my name as high up on the scoreboard as I can be. We’ll see what happens.”

Austin said the mental approach is most important.

“You’ve got to keep a good mind-set and not psyche yourself out,” she said. “It comes down to having a good mental state.”

Frost, a two-time WMSGA champion, will tee off with Bouchard at 8 a.m. Monday.

“It’s been a few years since I’ve been in that competitive environment,” she said. “I’m just looking forward to playing with Emily. I know she’s a great player and I’m just looking to play the course to the best of my ability.”

That’s all anyone can hope for, said Bouchard.

“I just try to take it one shot at a time,” she said. “When I’m out there, I visualize everything working out the way I planned it. That’s what you need to do. Fifty-four holes is a true test of a champion.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH


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