FALMOUTH — Eric Bleile was putting for birdie on the 17th green when he got the word.

Stop play.

“Pretty disruptive,” Bleile said, “but it’s Mother Nature. Not much you can do about it.”

The 89th New England Amateur Championship at Portland Country Club got off to a stormy start Tuesday, with the first round interrupted by thunderstorms.

Play was eventually suspended for the day, with most of the first round pushed to Wednesday. The second round will begin Wednesday and finish Thursday morning.

After the 36-hole cut, the remaining players will play 18 more holes Thursday instead of 36 – making it a 54-hole tournament instead of the planned 72.

When play was halted at 12:38 p.m., only 12 golfers had finished. Ryan Pelletier of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and Drake Hull of Rutland, Vermont, were atop the leaderboard at 3-under 69. Pelletier had finished 16 holes, and Hull had played 12.

The leader in the clubhouse is Uttdom Sowinkong of Wallingford, Connecticut, at 2-under 68.

Brian Bilodeau of Auburn leads the Maine contingent at 1-under through 15.

Jack Wyman, the two-time Maine Amateur champion from South Freeport, is even through 12 holes.

Bleile, a Wiscasset native now living in Weston, Connecticut, was at 3-over – with hopes for a birdie.

“Would have been nice to be done, but this is going to affect everyone,” he said.

Half of the field never teed off, leaving them with plenty of golf to play Wednesday.

“It means I’m going to be a tired puppy (Wednesday) night,” said two-time champion Mark Plummer of Manchester. He was scheduled to tee off at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, but instead sat around the clubhouse, awaiting updates. He knows what’s ahead.

“We’ll start at 7:30 (a.m.) instead of 8 and just keep playing,” said Plummer, who won the New England Amateur in 1994 on this course.

And if he makes the cut, Plummer will keep playing.

“We’ll see if this 66-year-old body can handle it,” Plummer said. “I’ll worry about that if it comes.”

Plummer, a 13-time Maine Amateur champion, also won this tournament in 1979 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Plummer and Sean Gorgone (1991) are the only Mainers to win the tournament since it went to stroke play in 1971.

In the past six years, only nine men from Maine have made the cut.

Wyman is Maine’s best hope to be contending on Thursday afternoon. Last Thursday, he secured his second straight Maine Amateur title with a three-round total of 6-under 207 at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club.

He stayed close to the leaders Tuesday.

“I’ve played really well, but I can’t get the putter going,” he said. “Hopefully these last six holes (of the first round), I can find something.

“I’m even par, so I’m right in the thick of it. Hopefully, I can get a birdie or two coming in and I’ll be right there.”

Of course, Wyman must wait to finish his round, like most everyone else.

“It’s obviously different,” he said. “You just have to regroup and reset to stay focused.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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