Cole Anderson plays during the Maine Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club. He finished with 5-under 66 to grab the first round lead. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Photo)
BELGRADE — Cole Anderson is going some places, and he’s already been some places, but the Maine Amateur Championship still ranks high among the golf tournaments he plays in the summer.
The senior-to-be at Camden Hills, who last year played in the U.S. Amateur and plans to play collegiately at Florida State University on an athletic scholarship, holds a two-stroke lead after the first round at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club on Tuesday.
“We look at this as kind of the peak of my schedule,” Anderson said. “Obviously, the U.S. Am kind of depends on whether you qualify, but this is sort of the time where we try to start to peak.”
Anderson, who plays out of the Samoset Resort, finished with a round of 5-under-par 66, with six birdies and only one bogey.
“I played really steady all day, just hit a lot of greens, didn’t really put myself in any too, I guess, difficult spots,” Anderson said. “Made a few putts here and there, took advantage of the par 5s — for the most part. I played them at 2-under, I think, for the day.”
Anderson liked the way one of the state’s more popular courses played Tuesday.
“The whole golf course was set up really nicely,” Anderson said. “I thought it was fair. I thought it was difficult enough that you had to play good golf, but there were shots out there, you could score. I think they did a good job.”
Right behind Anderson on the leaderboard are defending champion Jack Wyman of South Freeport and Drew Powell of Holden, who both sit at 3-under.
Westbrook’s Ashley Fifield, Topsham’s Caleb Manuel and Biddeford’s Jay Alvarez are at 2-under.
Former champions Andrew Slattery (the 2014 winner) of Minot and John Hayes IV (2015) of Portland lead a group of golfers at 1-under.
Slattery, who is back at Martindale this year after a year at Sable Oaks, was 1-under at the turn and then had three birdies and three bogeys on the back nine.
“It was up and down, but it was good back there,” Slattery said. “I misread the wind on (No.) 11, hit it over the green, it was just a simple miscalculation.”
Slattery had dropped to 1-over but was able to get back under par with a birdie on the 16th hole.
“I was trying to fight back,” Slattery said. “Sixteen got me back to 1-under, so I was happy to get back there. It’s tough out there when putts aren’t falling, things aren’t going the right way, to battle back.”
In total, nine golfers finished the first round under par. Slattery, though four strokes back, was comfortable with his standing.
“My thing on Day 1, just don’t shoot yourself in the foot, don’t shoot 78 and be out of it. Just keep it somewhere around par. I mean, we got 36 holes left, that’s a long ways to go.”
Slattery’s friend and fellow Martindale member Craig Chapman finished at 1-over par.
Chapman, of Auburn, was still cruising on the back nine until his driver went awry and he scored bogey and double bogey, respectively, on Nos. 15 and 16.
“But I’ll take it for the opening round,” Chapman said. “Definitely could have been better.
“You can’t win (on the first day),” Chapman added. “You can lose it today.”
During that rough patch on the back nine, Chapman was able to look back on his sixth-place finish at last year’s Maine Am at Brunswick. The Maine Am hasn’t always been kind to the Edward Little High School graduate, so his high finish in 2017 served as guidance during Tuesday’s round.
“I drew a lot off of Brunswick, how I played over there,” Chapman said. “When I was getting a little nervous out there, I tried to think back on Brunswick and what I did there and calm down and slow everything down a little bit — quit thinking about it.”
Another Martindale member, Oxford’s Joe Baker finished at 2-over, shooting 1-over on both the front and the back.
“Not good enough,” Baker said. “I had to get in (at) even. I had plenty of chances to get back to even, but I just had a few bad holes. I was under par going to (No.) 9, made a double (bogey), had a three-putt on the back and missed a couple short ones.”
The back nine was rough for most golfers. Lewiston’s Cameron Marquis and North Monmouth’s Timothy Doyle each dropped four strokes on the final nine holes.
Marquis didn’t think the back nine was more difficult, overall, but the greens were slower, and that affected his score.
Doyle said he struggled with his driver on the back nine. And the weather was a factor.
“It was a battle against the heat,” Doyle said. “The heat and the humidity are getting to people. It’s tough to maintain focus for that long with that kind of humidity.”
Other tri-county area scores: Martindale trio Jace Pearson, Matthew Simard and Brian Bilodeau, all Auburn residents, finished +7, +8 and +9, respectively; New Gloucester’s Larry Ross was +12; Mechanic Falls’ Edwin Piirainen +13; Oxford’s Mike Brennan +15 and Gray’s Joseph Bryant +16.
Brian Bilodeau, of Martindale, shot an 80 on the first day of play in the Maine Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Photo)
Jack Wyman plays during the Maine Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club. He finished with a 3-under 68 after the first round. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Photo)
Drew Powell plays in the Maine Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club. He finished with a 3-under-par score of 68. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Photo)
Mark Plummer, left, and Jack Wyman chat as they walk together while playing in the Maine Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club. Wyman finished with 3-under 68 after the first round. Plummer shot a 3-over 74. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Photo)