Maine Women's Amateur: Bryant looking for a better result at home course

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Janelle Bryant, of Gray, chips onto the green on the third hole at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland during the Maine Junior Championship in 2016.

Janelle Bryant had a not-so-pleasant experience in her first go-round playing in the Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship.

She’s hoping her second whack at the tournament treats her better, and the Martindale Country Club member expects it will at her home course.

“I like that it’s on a course that I know better than last year,” Bryant said. “I like being closer to home because I’ll be able to obviously go home after each day, get a better night’s sleep.”

It was a much longer drive to Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono last year than than the chip shot to Auburn to for the Gray native.

Maybe it was the long drive, the lack of good sleep or the lack of previous knowledge of PVCC, but Bryant said last year she got “way too worked up and frustrated because I was not playing well.”

“I don’t want to stress out too much,” she said. “Obviously I want to play well, but if I don’t I just want to focus on the experience of having a good time.”

Dealing with the stress and frustration is something the soon-to-be St. Dominic Academy senior said she has worked on since last year’s tournament, in which she finished 38th.

“My swing doesn’t change, so if I’m doing something wrong I’m probably in my own head,” Bryant said. “The mental game is probably harder than the physical game, and I would say that’s something I’ve gotten better at.”

Bryant will put that improvement to the test at her home course in this year’s tournament. She said she expects less nerves because she’s so familiar with the course.

“I’ve gotten used to each hole, kind of what I need to do,” Bryant said. “Obviously we’re playing from the white tees, not the ladies’ tees, so that’s going to change things up a little bit. But still, knowing the course I think will help me out a lot.”

Bryant called the par-3 ninth hole one of her favorites on the course, but the par-3 11th? Not so much.

“That’s kind of a tougher par 3 … but still a good challenge,” Bryant said.

As far as for the rest of the field, Bryant said she expects the 18th to give players some fits.

“Hole 18 can be very tough,” Bryant said. “It’s pretty long and it’s uphill. If you don’t get the ball all the way up on the green, up onto the flat part, it’ll roll right back off towards you, all the way down the big hill. That one can throw people off pretty easily.”

Bryant will have one of her brothers on her bag, but wasn’t sure which one heading into the weekend. That should help her deal with both the course and her own mental chess match.

The matchup with the rest of the players starts with two-time defending champ Staci Creech, who Bryant expects to play well again. Last year’s tournament was at Creech’s home course. The home-course advantage at this year’s tournament belongs to Bryant and a few others, including Kristin Kannegieser.

“I’ve played with her quite a few times,” Bryant said. “We’ve become pretty good friends and I look up to her lot. So it’s good to see her playing.”

Other Martindale members include Melissa Johnson, Neila Nelke and Danielle Rock.

“I do feel like there will be a tad bit of pressure (on me) because I do know the course really well. So if I don’t have very good scores people will probably wonder why. But, I mean, everybody has bad days,” Bryant said. “I do really want to do well. I do know the course, I’ve played there a lot, and it is my home course.”

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