The Maine Women’s Amateur golf tournament kicks off today in Boothbay.

With each year, the list of contenders for the Maine Women’s Amateur championship seems to grow just a bit.

Just a few years ago, Abby Spector had a firm hold on the title she won for six straight years. Though Spector remains a favorite, there are plenty of others hoping to challenge this week at Boothbay Country Club.

Turner’s Emily Allen hopes to be one of those players.

“I think I can challenge them,” said Allen. “It all depends on the day. That’s the way golf is. I have played in groups with them before. I don’t know, we’ll see. I think I have a good chance.”

Purpoodock’s Alyssa Hayes beat Spector last year at Sugarloaf by six shots, ending her lengthy reign. Allen, who entered the final round in third and within reach of the title, finished 13 shots back.

This week’s tournament very well could be another showdown between Hayes and Spector, but players like Allen hope to be in the hunt as well.

Last year’s performance for Allen was a significant step for the former two-time state champion at Leavitt. She was in the final group on the last day and had her best outing in her five appearances in the tournament.

“I think I do have a little bit of confidence because of last year,” said Allen. “I have another year of college and that will help a lot.”

Allen, like many of the young contenders, has seasoned her game at college. She’ll be a junior at Lenoir-Rhyn College, a Division II school in North Carolina. She played in the New England tournament earlier in the month and made the cut.

“I like to play in that one to see and test my skills against the other college competition,” said Allen.

Because her college season keeps her busy playing, she has focused on just the New England and Maine tournaments as well as some weekly outings this summer to stay sharp. She’s looking forward to this week’s play because the competition is good but still not as fierce as she saw in the New England’s.

“I’m not as worried about this tournament as I was the New England’s,” said Allen. “I think it’s going to be fun to see what Abby and Alyssa do on the course.”

Rather than playing against strangers, she feels more at home with this field. With an opportunity to compete for the title, that makes this week that much more inviting.

Among the familiar faces are Martha White and Pennie Cummings, the two sisters who have been mainstays in women’s golf in Maine. Hebron’s Leslie Guenther and Martindale’s Kristin Kannegieser and Ginny Cope were top finishers last year and return. Augusta’s Marja Hatfield and Biddeford Megan Angis are two young players worth watching.

Spector comes into the tournament on a hot streak. She finished eighth in the New England championship while Hayes was 14th. Spector also had the second-best amateur score in the Greater Portland Open and broke the women’s course record at J. W. Parks in Pittsfield.

On a shorter course, the approach shots and putting are expected to be significant factors.

“It will be a true test of the short game,” said Allen. “My goal is just to play my best and make every shot count and hope to make it to the final group on the last day.”

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