OAKLAND — John Hayes IV had just watched Mark Plummer, the 13-time champion, sink a birdie putt on the first hole Thursday to cut his lead to one in the final round of the Maine Amateur.

It was time for a perfect comeback and Hayes delivered.

He sank a long birdie putt on the second hole, followed with two more birdies and went on to a 67 for a five-shot victory at the Waterville Country Club.

Hayes, a 25-year-old from Cape Elizabeth, finished with a 54-hole total of 9-under 201 after opening with a 65 followed by a 69. Plummer, a 63-year-old from Manchester, was second at 206 with rounds of 69-67-70.

Following were Ricky Jones (211) of Thomaston, Sam Grindle (212) of Deer Isle and Joe Walp (213) of Portland.

Lowell Watson of West Boothbay Harbor, the Maine Senior Amateur champion, was sixth at 215. At 69, Watson was the oldest player in the tournament.

Hayes found his groove on the second hole, a par 3, with a putt in the 20-foot range.

“It was a really tough putt,” said Hayes. “It had about 5 feet of break. I didn’t think that I had a chance of making it.”

Hayes, who played at Cape Elizabeth High, and in college at Towson State in Maryland and the University of Colorado, then birdied the following two holes.

He was short of the green on his second shot on the par-5 third, chipped up and made a 5-footer for birdie. Plummer missed a chance to match the birdie when he three-putted from 45 feet, just off the green.

On the fourth hole, Hayes sank a 10-footer for birdie to give him a four-shot lead.

Hayes nearly made a fourth straight birdie after a big drive on the fifth hole, a long par 4, leaving his putt on the lip of the cup.

With the way Hayes was playing, it was hard for Plummer to make a run, even though he felt he was playing well.

“John was playing great,” said Plummer. “He rattled off the three birdies in a row and didn’t open the door. When I made back-to-back bogeys on 8 and 9, that was the end of it for me. This was probably as good as I’m going to play. John did a nice job. He was pretty much in control.”

Plummer’s bogey on the eighth hole, the result of a three-putt, gave Hayes a five-shot lead.

When Hayes birdied the par-5 ninth and Plummer bogeyed with another three-putt, the difference ballooned to seven shots. Hayes shot a 4-under 32 on the front nine.

“I played the front nine well every day and putted great. I just tried to hold on on the back nine,” said Hayes.

About a month ago, Hayes ditched his more expensive putter and pulled his father’s putter out of his bag. He doesn’t plan on returning it soon.

Hayes made his first bogey of the round on No. 13 but bounced back with a birdie on the next hole, after hitting his tee shot into the right fairway bunker and nearly putting in a wedge shot from 130 yards. Hayes had a big smile after the shot and probably a sense of relief. He tapped in for birdie.

Perfectly executed chip shots after he was short on his approach shots saved par on 15 and 17. All that was left was his walk up 18 and a big hug from his father, John Hayes III.

Hayes’ best previous finish was a tie for fifth in 2012 at Sunday River.

“Over the last four years I felt I was good enough to win this tournament,” said Hayes, who learned to play at the Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth. “I finally have.”

The Hayes family can claim two Maine state amateur champions. Hayes’ sister, Alyssa, won the Women’s State Amateur in 2002 at Sugarloaf.

“That’s pretty cool we both have won amateurs,” he said.

Hayes was 5 years old in 1995 when Plummer played Tiger Woods in the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island (Woods won, 2-up). The Hayes family is from Newport and has deep ties to the historic club. Hayes’ great-grandfather was the first pro at the club and his father is still a member there.

Hayes has vague memories of Woods at Newport.

“My father shot a video of the match between Mark and Tiger. I’ve watched it,” said Hayes.

Hayes said it was “awesome” playing with Plummer for the first time.

“This is my 11th Maine Amateur,” said Randy Hodsdon, director of rules and competition for the Maine State Golf Association. “That’s the best golf I’ve seen,”

 


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