Like everyone else who plays golf, Caleb Manuel feels a wide range of emotions on the course. He just doesn’t let his feelings show.

“He’s always on an even keel,” said Mt. Ararat Coach Gerry Caron.

And when it mattered most, Manuel didn’t let emotions get in his way.

The Mt. Ararat High junior was unbeaten this season, just like his team, and capped his season with a one-shot victory in the Class A individual tournament over his friend and rival, three-time champion Cole Anderson of Camden Hills. Manuel shot a 3-under 69 in cold, wet conditions at Natanis Golf Course’s Tomahawk course.

For winning his first state title and going undefeated in the regular season (with a win and a tie against Anderson), Manuel is the Maine Sunday Telegram Boys’ Golfer of the Year.

“I was definitely a little nervous going to bed (the night before),” Manuel said. “I did everything the same that day as we’d done for the qualifier and the team tournament. We all went to the range, and then we all huddled up on the practice green, and all the boys were telling me I could do it.”

Anderson, who has signed a letter of intent to play at Florida State, was attempting to become the first boy to win four Class A titles.

With the players tied, Anderson appeared to grasp momentum on the 14th hole when he chipped in for birdie. Manuel promptly matched him by rolling in a 20-foot putt for his own birdie.

“That was a long time in the making to win that tournament,” Manuel said.

But even when he finished the round, Manuel’s stoic facade didn’t crack.

“I was trying not to celebrate too early because I didn’t know it was official yet,” Manuel said.

Manuel’s focus and ability to stick to a game plan are essential to his success, Caron said.

Before each match the coach would check in with his No. 1 player. Instead of talking about his swing or a particular hole, Caron would ask Manuel what score he expected to shoot.

“He would name off a number and he would shoot the number. That’s pretty amazing,” Caron said.

The 5-foot-8 Manuel cuts an unassuming appearance, with glasses and shaggy hair.

Caron said people tend to underestimate Manuel’s athletic ability, “until they see him do something,” noting Manuel played varsity basketball as a 5-foot-4 freshman.

With some physical growth and work with Paul Piveronas, the director of instruction at The Woodlands Club in Falmouth, Manuel can drive the ball as far as most anyone in the state.

“He’s so long off the tee this year. He’s throwing a lot of wedges and 9-irons to the green when a lot of people aren’t,” Caron said.

Manuel said his teammates, particularly Cade Charron, the Eagles’ No. 2 man, deserve some credit for his success.

“I think it was mostly my teammates and the atmosphere my coach created,” Manuel said.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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