FALMOUTH — Cole Anderson said he used to cry after Little League losses. And it was clear he wasn’t happy after finishing second in the 2018 Maine Amateur, though he was mature enough to handle the setback with grace instead of tears.

Anderson, 18, took a six-shot lead into Thursday’s final round of the 100th Maine State Golf Association Amateur Championship and never let up. While playing partners and closest pursuers Reese McFarlane and Jason Gall had early miscues, Anderson was doggedly consistent and finished off his wire-to-wire win at Portland Country Club with a 3-under-par 67 to win by eight strokes.

Anderson finished third in 2017 at Brunswick Golf Club and lost by a stroke to Jack Wyman at last year’s tournament at Belgrade Lakes, undone in part by a triple bogey.

“This is as bad as I’ve ever wanted to win a golf tournament,” said Anderson, who already had three Class A high school titles, multiple junior wins and the 2018 MSGA Match Play crown on his resume. “I really don’t like losing. I hate losing, and the last two years, to feel like I had not only a legitimate shot but a shot that I should have pulled it out, to come back and not only win, but win by a good amount, it feels pretty good.”

There were no missteps this year. He grabbed a three-shot lead Tuesday with a blistering 65. A second-round 69 in tougher conditions followed. On Thursday, Anderson showed veteran savvy combined with a young man’s confident putting.

He played smart all day, shooting to the safe part of fairways and greens. His first putts, often from considerable distance, consistently left him close. He drained every testing par putt, including a final 7-footer on the 18th hole to complete a bogey-free round and finish with a three-day score of 9-under 201. That matched the best effort in recent history, when Johnny Hayes won with the same score in 2015 at Waterville Country Club.

“That was my best course management, probably ever,” said Anderson, who enrolled at Florida State University on a golf scholarship in January, after graduating a semester early from Camden Hills High.

Anderson became the first teenage winner since Seth Sweet of Madison, who was 17 in 2012. It was the 13th time in the last 14 years the winner has been under the age of 30.

McFarlane, 21, of Cape Elizabeth finished second at  1 under. McFarlane made six birdies but was undone by double bogeys on the second and 13th holes. A bogey on the 10th also didn’t help.

“That really hurt me,” said McFarlane, the reigning New England Amateur champion. “If I was going to make a final run, I would have needed to make birdies at the start of the back nine, but Cole just didn’t take his foot off the gas. He was just steady all day. He played the way you have to play when you’re trying to win a golf tournament.”

Gall, 46, of Augusta and a member at Portland Country Club, was third at 3 over, closing with a 73. He was also bitten by the second hole, which features a devilish green with a steep front to back slope. Both Gall and McFarlane hit second shots that reached the green, only to roll back down the slope to a landing area. Both hit their third shot too soft (Gall with a putter) and had the ball roll right back to the same spot. Gall made a triple bogey.

“At that point, for me, I just felt like if I could get it back to even I’d be happy,” said Gall. “But catching (Anderson) was kind of out of the question. He played a great round. It was awesome to watch.”

Anderson parred the second hole. His second shot was deeper and farther right, and when his ball started rolling it nearly went into the cup for an eagle but stopped on the upper tier for a routine two-putt par.

“That hole freed me up just to plod around and make birdies where I could,” Anderson said.

Each of Anderson’s three birdies, at the first, 11th and 16th holes, came on holes McFarlane also birdied, helping to keep the big-hitting left-hander and University of North Carolina Wilmington player from getting close.

Anderson and McFarlane were the only players to break par Thursday. Joe Alvarez, who also started the day six strokes back, finished fourth at 4 over. Scott Sirois had an even-par 70 and tied for fifth at 5 over with Caleb Manuel, the 2018 Class A high school champion from Mt. Ararat High.


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