MANCHESTER — Tuesday’s opening round of the Charlie’s Maine Open produced what might have been expected from a new/old venue with icy-fast greens, punitive rough and a tight, 36-hole tournament window.
The conservative approach prevailed, leaving more than two dozen players in position to fight for the $9,000 first place check at Augusta Country Club on Wednesday.
Three out-of-state golfers share the lead at 2-under 68. Six are stacked up one shot back, the only others to register a red number in the field of 148 players.
“I hit most of the greens in regulation,” said co-leader Jeremiah Shields of Ottawa, Ontario. “I played pretty conservative off the tee. Just had to find my yardages and not try to overpower.”
Sharing the lead with the 29-year-old Canadian and joining him in Wednesday’s final group are Kevin Roy of Syracuse, N.Y., and Jesse Larson of Mendon, Vt.
Jack Wyman, 21, of Falmouth, is in the logjam at 1-under along with Don Robertson, 59, of Irving, Texas, the 1981 Maine Open champion and a caddy for Scott Dunlap on the PGA Tour.
“I wasn’t too aggressive. Just played the course,” said Wyman, who will be a senior at Endicott College in the fall. “You had to pick and choose what to go after.”
Jason Parajeckas, Maki Kobiyashi, Matthew Baker and Peter Wright also shot 69.
Tim Desmarais, assistant professional at Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth, was one of four players at even par. He birdied the par-5 18th to salvage 70 after bogeying two par-3s on the back nine.
“My boss, Mike Worroll, said to me in these events all you have to do is make 18 pars. Birdies will come. If you make par on every hole your odds are a lot better than if you try to make birdie on every hole,” Desmarais said.
Roy, a college standout at Long Beach State, earned his share of the top spot with 15 pars. His highlight was an eagle on the par-4 13th.
Shields enjoyed a stretch of four birdies in five holes on the back nine.
“I tried to hit to hit the center of the greens and made good putts,” Shields said. “They didn’t drop right away but I found a way to stay patient. These greens are rolling nice.”
Although he turned pro in 2006, Shields quit the game for several years before returning to the Great Lakes Tour in the Toronto area this spring.
Maine is only the second visit to the U.S. since his return.
“I had a couple of good first rounds earlier this year,“ Shields said. “It’s nice to be back in contention."
Larson landed five birdies on his run up the leader board.
A tough start sidetracked two of the home-state, pre-tournament favorites.
Ryan Gay of Pittston, a three-time Maine Amateur champion playing on his home course, wound up at 72 after a double-bogey 6 on the first hole.
“My game has been off. You never know. Especially being my home course I’ve got a shot,” Gay said. “Whether it is or isn’t (enough to win), I just want to have a good, solid round of golf, because I haven’t had one in a while.”
Windham’s Shawn Warren dubiously picked up where he left off in 2011, when he double-bogeyed the 36th hole to fall into a three-way playoff. Michael Carbone of Massachusetts walked away with the title.
This year’s opening act was even worse than that conclusion. Warren started with an 8 on his way to 73.
“After that I just couldn’t dig back enough. I’m probably too far behind to win, but I’m looking forward to getting another crack at it,” Warren said. “I’ll be more aggressive, probably hitting driver in a few places where I normally wouldn’t.”
Past winners Ricky Jones of Thomaston and Dustin Cone are in a nine-way tie at 71.
Carbone withdrew from the event after learning that he qualified for this week’s PGA Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn.
Augusta is hosting the state tournament for the first time since 1960.
“It’s the best I’ve ever seen it,” Warren said. “I‘ve never seen Augusta in such good shape or playing as difficult as it was today.”