FALMOUTH – Most people would argue that a bad day on the golf course is still a good day.

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone at Portland Country Club who felt that way Tuesday afternoon.

Golfers who were supposed to be playing in the 87th Maine Amateur Golf Championship huddled in the restaurant and lounge at the Falmouth golf course as play was suspended – four different times – sending collective groans through the field to rival the rolling thunder and rain cascading from the heavens.

“It ruined the rhythm,” said two-time champion Jim Veno. “We got to the 12th hole. We were all playing well. There was a lot of good rhythm in everything. We’d hit a lot of good shots. Then we got stopped.”

Following each delay, there were consequences.

Dan Hargreaves, who last year emerged as a contender, started to roll his putts 10 feet past the hole. Veno lost his string of seven consecutive 4s. Thirteen-time champion Mark Plummer made three straight bogeys to finish his round.

“When we went back out, we never got back into the rhythm,” said Veno.

Yet they all are still in contention.

“If someone had offered me a 72 this morning, I would have taken it, but I would rather have done it finishing with three birdies, though,” said Plummer.

Seven players finished in a tie for the lead at 1-over-par 71, including the 63-year-old Veno – who won the tournament in both 1960 and 62 – and young guns Shawn Warren of Windham, Toby Spector of Waterville and Joe Baker, who plays out of Paris Hill Country Club.

“The first round of this tournament, it’s not about leading,” said Warren. “I just wanted to put myself in a position where you can work your way up the leaderboard. The way I hit the ball, that was probably the highest score I was going to shoot today.”

Tobey Buteau of Willowdale, Gary Manoogian of Falmouth and Dane Hutchins of the host club, were also at 71 Monday. Plummer, Ross McGee, Craig Briggs and another former champion, Ron Brown, Jr., were all lurking just one stroke off the lead at 2-over-par 72. Hargreaves was among five more players at 73, while perennial favorite Ricky Jones was three back at 74 with Brady Chapman, last year’s Class C state champion out of Telstar Regional High School.

“I made a bogey on the first hole,” said Jones. “It kind of ruins the confidence from the get-go.”

Jones made the most of the first weather delay, though. He was one putt and two holes from the finish, and felt he needed to relax a bit before a big putt.

“I went and took a nap in my car,” Jones said. “I was out.”

While the weather stole much of the show (eight groups have yet to finish and will do so at 7 this morning), there were a fair share of good shots, too. Warren, for example, managed to lift his ball from a fried-egg situation in a bunker on the 15th hole onto the green, despite having to stand outside of the trap.

“I was happy with the shot I hit out of that,” said Warren. “Bogey there after that shot, that was O.K.”

Veno, after a tough bogey on 16, snaked a 30-footer into the hole for birdie on 17. Jones, after waiting an hour in the clubhouse during the first weather delay, drained a 20-footer for eagle on 16, and Ross McGee sank three consecutive putts of 50 feet for a par and two birdies on his way to a 72.

Eight groups have yet to finish the first round. Some, like Bangor’s Jesse Speirs, are considered a threat to the leaders. Golfers will return to the course this morning and complete their first round. All golfers will tee off at their scheduled tee times in Round 2.

Other top local finishers included Chris Delamater of Martindale with a 78, and Jace Pearson, the reigning club champ at Fox Ridge in Auburn, with a 79.


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