Maine Amateur: Leaders stayed in their comfort zone for Round 2

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Cole Anderson studies the 11th green on the second day of play in the Maine Amateur Championship on Wednesday at the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Photo)

BELGRADE — It isn’t very difficult to get comfortable on an idyllic summer day such as the one golfers and spectators enjoyed Wednesday on the second day of the Maine Amateur Championship at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club.

Cole Anderson of Camden never lost his comfort zone, even while shooting a plus-2 he shot on the front nine on Wednesday that knocked him off the lead.

Defending champion Jack Wyman of South Freeport was so comfortable with how he was playing, and who he was playing with, that he duplicated the 3-under he shot on Tuesday and overtook Anderson for a one-shot lead.

And Drew Powell of Holden, who will round out the final threesome for Thursday’s final round, was comfortable enough to stick to the conservative game-plan that he always believed would keep him within striking distance for the final round. He sits a 4-under, two strokes back.

Anderson, 17, never panicked despite bogeying the fifth and sixth holes and a double-bogey at 15 that threatened to sabotage a strong recovery on the back nine.

“Even on the front, I was telling my caddie, I felt like I had a bad iron swing, a bad driver and a bad putt, that cost me three shots, and I felt like I could have been 1-under on that front nine without really blinking,” he said.

Birdies at 10 and 11 got him back to where he started the day at 5-under. 

“On the back nine, with the exception of the one driver swing on 15 where I made double, I felt like I didn’t miss many shots,” Anderson said. “I was just happy to  get in and still be right there (in contention).”

Reaching the green in two on at the 550-yard par 5 16th before ultimately settling for birdie helped improve his standing at the end of the day. If anything, Anderson said, having so much riding on every shot made him more comfortable.

“Just the pressure is fun, getting to be under the gun a little bit,” said Anderson, a three-time Class A state champion with Camden Hills. “I haven’t been there in a little bit, so it’s fun.”

Whatever pressure Wyman, 27, felt on Wednesday was usually diffused by his playing partners, 13-time winner Mark Plummer and  reigning Mid-Amateur champion Peter Wright.

“Mark is always a good time to play with, and Peter, I play with him every week. So I kind of had a dream pairing for me,” Wyman said. “That definitely helped the past couple of days, being comfortable with those two.”

Wyman was one shot better on the front nine and one shot worse on the back than he was on Tuesday to match the 68 he shot in round one.

“I really wasn’t in jeopardy of making bogey or doubles at all today. I was kind of right down the middle,” he said.

The mission for the 20-year-old Powell was to be as close to down the middle as he could off of the tee.

“That’s what I’ve learned this year — the way I play myself out of golf tournaments is just blowing it off the tee or going for something I don’t need to,” Powell said. “Typically, my strength is my iron play, so I figure if I get it in play off the tee, no matter how far back I am, I’m going to hit it relatively close, then see if I can make some putts.”

After shooting par on the first six holes, Powell hit a patch of inconsistency at the turn, following up birdies at 7 and 8 with bogeys at 9 and 10.

“I was hitting every green, but I didn’t feel like I was in the groove,” he said. “Then I birdied a couple of holes and bogeyed a few, like 9 and 10, so I was just trying to grind it out. Luckily I got a couple of birdies coming in. But I’m pretty satisfied.”

“I feel like I played really conservatively the first two days, laying back off the tee, laying back on par 5s, just because I don’t feel as comfortable as I should,” Powell added. “I know (Thursday) if I need to make a run, I can just go for it.”

Powell and Anderson said they won’t be eager to leave their comfort zone for the final round, but are prepared to be aggressive if someone in the threesome is making a move. 

“(Thursday) is a different ballgame — maybe play that way off the start and see what the other guys are doing, then coming in back nine, if I need to step it up a bit, I know I can do it,” Powell said.

“You just sort of stick to your guns and keep trying to play golf,” Anderson said. “If Jack pulls driver on a hole that I’m hitting iron, I’m not going to pull driver. I’m going to hit iron. You can’t let anyone else’s game leak into yours.”

Wyman, who led after two rounds last year, was comfortable being back in a familiar spot, at least more comfortable than he was the first time he led heading into the final round.

“I was definitely stressed out last year going into the final day,” Wyman said. “But I’ve played a lot of golf. I played through the winter and I have more tournament experience under my belt now. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I’m feeling pretty confident, though.”

Drew Powell tees off at the second hole on the second day of play in the Maine Amateur Championship on Wednesday at the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Photo)

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