PORTLAND – A year ago, Keegan Fennessy finished six shots back of the leader in the Maine Open.

That was a pretty rapid improvement for the former Poland Regional High School standout. In the previous two years, Fennessy finished 15 and 21 shots back, respectively. In his first year playing in the Maine Open as a pro, Fennessy is hoping his climb up the local ranks only continues. He shot a 5-under-par 66 Tuesday and sits in the hunt among the leaders entering Wednesday’s final round.

“It’s a new day tomorrow, but I’m in a pretty good position,” said Fennessy.

The Minot native says his game has come a great distance since last year. His work over the last 12 months and competing in Florida during the winter did his game wonders.

“I’m 10 times more consistent,” said Fennessy. “My misses, instead of being 50 yards wide, they’re down to 10. That’s huge to be able to stand over a ball and know where it’s going.”

Just being able to play regularly has helped his game immensely. It wasn’t just the competition he faced down South but the regularity of his play and having the luxury of filling his winter months with golf.

“It’s a good change after not being able to swing all year,” he said. “It improved my game a lot. It’s getting out there and working. Hitting 10,000 balls a week, it’s finally starting to play off.”

Fennessy got a sizable challenge over the winter when he played in the Hooter’s Winter Series in Florida. He played six events and learned a great deal during that time. When he made the cut in his first outing, he says he surprised himself but soon learned that it wasn’t going to be that easy.

“I’m actually glad I went through some struggles down there,” he said. “It makes you work harder. If everything is the same to you, you don’t work as hard.”

Trying to live economically, he struggled to get the practice times in when money was tight. When he didn’t practice as often as he was accustomed, it effected his play.

“I was hitting balls every day from working at Point Sebago,” said Fennessy, who is an assistant there. “Then you go down to Florida, and it is $400 for a range membership.”

Still, the experience was a beneficial one. He learned about his game and took many lessons from the competitors around him.

“Seeing guys that really strike it well down in Florida, I know I can play with them, but you have to put in the same work ethic as they do,” he said.

He returned to Maine with a better sense of mission and belief in himself. He says that is truly showing in his game.

“It’s a completely different experience,” he said. “Coming up here is a huge confidence boost. You come back here and feel like you can compete. Making some cuts down there with the big boys makes you feel pretty good.”

Fennessy put himself in contention Tuesday with three birdies on his first nine holes, including one on his first hole. He duplicated his second nine with another 33.

“I took advantage of the short par 4s,” he said. “I’m a pretty good woods player. So I just tried to get myself within 100 yards and count on the scoring clubs, the wedges and putters. I jut tried to capitalize on the par 5s and the short par 4s.”

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.


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