NORTH YARMOUTH — Nick Mazurek knew it would happen eventually.
The Rockland native was playing so well Wednesday, he knew mistakes were inevitable.
“I was thinking that it’s going to happen eventually, but I just wanted to limit it to just a bogey, like I was on the back,” said Mazurek, a senior at Oceanside High School. “If I did make a bogey, I wanted to try to come back with a birdie. I was just hoping to limit my mistakes. You’re not going to be perfect. So I was trying to get as close as I could.”
Though Mazurek had a double-bogey on the last hole, he still finished with a 71 to take a two-shot lead after the first day of the Maine Junior Amateur Championship at Toddy Brook.
Eric Dugas and Logan Thompson each shot 73 to finish two shots behind Mazurek in the boys 15-17 division. Robbie Watson and Austin Legge each shot 75, while Scarborough’s Drew Kane and Cole Anderson, of Camden, each had 77. Bangor’s Drew Powell, who tied with Mazurek in the high school state championship last fall, shot a 78, along with Philip McCallum of Portland.
“The front nine, I played really well,” Mazurek said. “I finished at two-under and at one point on the back, I was at three-under. The back nine, I was a little more up and down — bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie. I got it to even. So I was at 2-under after 17. Then I had a rough finish and had a double-bogey. I hit a ball out of bounds. So that was tough. But I’m still happy with a 71.”
In the girls’ 15-17 division, Cape Elizabeth’s Lauren Schonewolf had the lead on the first day with a 79, but Lewiston’s Stephanie Rodrigue was right behind her with an 80. Erin Holmes was third at 87 while St. Dom’s Janelle Bryant at 89.
“I had one bad hole but other than that, I played pretty confident,” Rodrigue said. “I played okay. I would take an 80 any day. I birdied the last hole, so that shot my energy up.”
Schonewolf won the 13-14 age category last year.
“She’s a good player,” Rodrigue said. “I feel confident and feel good about tomorrow.”
Rodrigue was solid for most of her round but had an early triple bogey that cost her a better score.
“My putting was alright today, but I think my longer clubs, my woods, I feel like I should do better with those,” Rodrigue said. “I didn’t go to the range before, and I just kept coming up short.”
The girls’ groups will have early tee times for Thursday’s final round. That was welcome news to Rodrigue. The girls groups finished last Wednesday and had to outrace a threatening rain shower.
“We started to pick it up a little bit because I literally thought we were going to get poured on,” Rodrigue said. “It was scary.”
The boys’ 15-17 group had the early start Wednesday. Mazurek came in hoping to contend. He had tied Powell with a 72 in the Class A high school state championship last fall. Powell had finished second and Kane third in last year’s Junior Amateur.
“I always like to think that I’ve got a chance,” Mazurek said. “It’s my personality. I try to win everything I do. I definitely felt like I had a pretty good chance of maybe winning this thing.”
Mazurek built his confidence early and had some momentum going. Though he stumbled at the finish, his start was good enough to set the tone for his day.
“I got off to a hot start,” Mazurek said. “It took me 12 holes to make a bogey. So I was at three-under for 12 holes without a bogey. I was definitely feeling pretty good for a while there.”
Thompson, of Lincoln, was the state champion in Class C with a 72 and put himself in contention with his 73 Wednesday. MCI’s Dugas was fourth in Class B with a 78 last fall.
“I was expecting that you’d have to shoot pretty good to be close to everybody else,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of good players. I was hoping for two-over what I shot or better would be good.”
Thompson, who attends Mattanawcook Academy, said had had a solid start, as well, and picked up steam around the turn.
“On the first nine, I birdied nine, the par-3,” Thompson said. “Then I birdied the next hole on the back nine. That’s when I started to get going.
“I felt like I played really well. I had quite a bit of slip-ups. I had some double bogeys — I had three doubles — but I had an eagle and some birdies to make up for it. It was pretty good conditions. It was a really nice day to play.”
Powell and Kane were among the pre-tourney favorites. That first group finished the day looking pretty exasperated. Kane and Anderson settled for 77 each while Powell had a 78.
“I just didn’t play that well,” Kane said. “I didn’t putt really well. I had four or five three-putts. I just didn’t make anything. My wedges weren’t very good either.”
Kane, who was third in the Class A states with a 75 last fall, had impressed at the Maine Amateur last month in Waterville. He shot 77-74-78 over the three days and finished tied for 40th. He was hoping that success would carry over to this week.
“I thought it would be easier because it’s a shorter course and more wide open,” Kane said. “There’s still tomorrow. I played pretty good on my first nine, but on the back, I just couldn’t make anything.”
The top local players in the 15-17 division included Auburn’s Brendan Donovan with an 84. Mac Kim, from Paris, shot an 85. Auburn’s AJ Parisi and Nicholas Gammaitoni finished at 92 and 98 respectively while Lisbon’s Adam White shot 100.
In the 12-under division, Scarborough golfers took the top three spots. Ryan Stimson shot a 38 followed by Peter Malia at 39 and Teddy Forsley at 41.
In the 13-14 age group, Caleb Manuel, of Topsham, had the lead with a 73. Augusta’s Mitchell Tarrio shot a 76. Lewiston’s Ben Gosselin finished with a 99. Auburn’s Demetri Gammaitoni and Aaron Perkins shot a 100 and 118 respectively. Monmouth’s Trevor Flanagan finished at 121.
In the girls’ 13-14 group, Old Orchard’s Jordan Laplume leads with a 77 while Rachel Smith finished at 83.