PORTLAND — Maine is a long way from the Hooters Tour and the Tar Heel Tour.

Maybe that’s what Jim Renner needed this week.

Sloshing through a soggy Riverside Municipal Golf Course, Renner took advantage of soft, rain-free conditions in the first group of the day off the first tee, posting a 6-under-par 65 at the site of his first professional victory.

“It’s always nice, you get the good vibes,” Renner said. “I haven’t really been putting it together lately, but today, it was different. It felt good.”

With that round, Renner finds himself atop the leader board of the 91st Maine Open, which merged this year with the Portland Open. Renner won the Portland Open in 2007, posting a 63 in the final round that day to win.

“It’s nice to finally put together a good round,” Renner said. “Now I have to come back and do it all over again (Wednesday).”

Conditions at the course Tuesday favored the longer hitters, and those who were more accurate.

“I only hit one bad driver off the tee today,” Renner said, “and that was on 10. I thought I’d made bogey actually, because I thought it was a par-4.”

Renner fired off three birdies in four holes to start his round, and was 6-under through 13 holes after birdies at 11, 12 and 13 before leveling off a bit.

“I had a few putts that I just missed coming in,” Renner said, “but I can’t be upset with this round, in these conditions.”

Steady rain for much of June has turned golf courses into swampland throughout Maine, and Riverside is no exception. Water gushed under a bridge near the 15th hole, just a couple feet shy of washing over the deck, and players were searching for plugged balls on nearly every hole, both in the rough and in the fairways.

“I saw a lot of players out here today hitting driver today,” Minot’s Keegan Fennessy said. “Just because a course is shorter doesn’t mean you should throw a game plan out the window. I didn’t hit many drivers today.”

That worked out well for the young pro, who posted a 5-under 66 in his first round, and is hot on Renner’s heels.

“With a two-day tournament, you have to post a good number on the first day, especially here, to give yourself a chance,” Fennessy said. “Not to take anything away from the course, but it’s a scorer’s paradise out here, and you have to take advantage of it.”

The rest of the first wave of golfers finished well, but Renner’s score held up through the initial offering of 81 golfers.

John Elliott made the most noise of anyone in the second wave, moving into a tie for fourth place with a 4-under 67 in the second group off the first tee in the second grouping of golfers.

“If I’d made my putts, I’d be at the top of the leader board,” said Elliott, who spent parts of 15 seasons on the PGA Tour. “If I play like I did (Tuesday) and make a couple extra putts, I’ll have a chance, I think. There are a couple of good players ahead of me with really good short games, though.”

Locally, Bob Darling Jr. of Lewiston, the director of golf at Fox Ridge in Auburn, was tied with Dave Grygiel for low Maine professional at 1-under 70. Both are also Maine senior pros, and eligible for the separate prize.

Ron Bibeau, a former pro at Martindale and Turner and now the pro at host Riverside, fired a plus-2 73, as did Andrew Slattery of Minot, while amateur Tim Millett of Auburn, a student at NYA, came in at 4-over 75. Martindale professional and former St. Dom’s golfer Johnny Emerson struggled to 8-over 79s.

Tee times Wednesday, weather permitting, will run in reverse order based on Tuesday’s finish, with the leaders expected to go off the first tee at approximately 2 p.m.

Keegan Fennessy, of Minot, chips onto the green of the 12th hole at Charlie’s Portland Maine Open Tuesday at Riverside Golf Course. Fennessy finished the day five under par with a score of 66.

Tim Millett, of Auburn, lines up his shot on the 7th hole at Charlie’s Portland Maine Open Tuesday at Riverside Golf Course. Millett finished the day four over par with a score of 75.

Martindale Golf Course’s pro Nick Glicos, of Windham, watches his ball just miss the cup on the 6th hole, dashing his hopes of a birdie at Charlie’s Portland Maine Open Tuesday. Glicos fished 8 over par with a score of 79.

Johnny Emerson, of Lewiston, tees off at the 7th hole at Charlie’s Portland Maine Open Tuesday. Emerson finished 8 over par with a score of 79.


Andrew Bradford, of Pownal, watches his ball move towards and past the hole on the 14th green for a double bogey 6 Tuesday at Charlie’s Portland Maine Open.  Bradford finished 6 over par with a score of 77.


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