FALMOUTH – If people were waiting for Shawn Warren to make a mistake Thursday, it didn’t take long.

With a comfortable five-stroke lead to begin the day, things got a bit unsettling on the first shot for the 21-year old.

Warren landed his tee shot in the bunker to the right of the fairway. He followed that up with a shot over the green. The Marshall University golfer, however, managed to chip on and salvage a par on what could have been a disastrous first hole.

“That was a great par,” said Warren. “When that putt went in, it kind of settled down the nerves. It got me thinking it was going to be a better day than I thought after those first two shots.”

The first hole set the tone for the day as Warren won his coveted Maine Amateur Championship. In a tournament where success has never come easily for Warren, he was forced to gut out the victory, squeezing every advantage out of the lead provided by Wednesday’s round of 64.

“I came in knowing the pins were going to be a little tough, and that I was going to have a lot of pressure on me,” said Warren, who had struggled to advance in the match play format in previous tries. “That first hole could have been a lot worse. When that putt went in, I said to myself Now you’ve got to go out and actually play. You got lucky on that first hole. Now you’ve got to go out and really grind.’ That’s all it was today, one big grind.”

The victory made Warren just the third golfer to win both the Maine Amateur and the Maine Open. Warren won the Maine Open two years ago in a playoff. Jim Veno won the Amateur in 1960 and 1962 while taking the Open in 1962 and 1965. Ed Abbott won the Amateur in 1946 and the Open in 1946 and 1947.

“When I won the Maine Open, that was great,” said Warren. “That was by far the biggest tournament I’ve ever won, but still in the back of my mind, this is the one that I had at the top of my list. Before you go compete at the national level, you have to take care of business at home. I hadn’t done that the past couple of years, and I probably should have. I feel like I should have at least won one.”

Match play has always been a key component to his demise in past amateurs. That format, he says, gives underdogs a better chance at winning. Though he had been a top seed going into match play, he’d never managed to advance to the semifinals.

“In stroke play, most of the time, the better players will rise to the top,” said Warren.

He got his chance to prove just that this year. After a 71 in the on-again-off-again first round Tuesday, he fired a stunning 64 Wednesday, one of his best competitive rounds ever. Things wouldn’t come as easily on the third day.

First off, the entire final round was delayed because of the heavy rains overnight. Instead of teeing off at 10 a.m. as originally scheduled, Warren didn’t start until 2:30. He’d been up since 5:30 a.m, anxiously awaiting his chance.

“It’s one of those things where you want to wake up and go through your routine and get on the golf course as quickly as possible,” he said. “You don’t want to sit around and wait.”

When he finally got underway, his day nearly fell apart at the start. Despite his save on the first hole, he still bogeyed three holes on the front nine. A birdie on the ninth hole salvaged a 37. He finished the day at 74.

“People would ask me How are you playing?'” said Warren. “I’d say I’m just glad I played well yesterday.'”

He had a five-shot lead entering the day. The closest anybody got all afternoon was four strokes. It was a cushion that worked in Warren’s favor on a day when the scoring didn’t come as easily as it had the day before.

“I wanted to go out and win the tournament,” said Warren. “I didn’t want to back into it, and I kind of felt like I did today, but I stuck to my game plan. I wasn’t forced to make the birdies. I just had to continue to make pars and play safe and force them to go out and beat me.”


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