PORTLAND — Jim Renner plucked his 7-iron from his bag. He gauged the wind — left to right, a bit harder than earlier in the day — and took aim at the flagstick.

If his ball leaked even the slightest bit to the right, he risked losing it. Short? That’s a tough up-and-down. Long? Forget about it.

Lock and loaded, Renner fired a laser, landing the ball six feet from the pin at the 15th hole.

“I’ve started to get a little nit of my confidence back,” Renner said. “On 15, I aimed five to seven yards left of the hole, and I figured it would cut a little bit.”

Renner, who at the time was three up on Rob Oppenheim with four holes to play, shunned conventional wisdom, which dictated he should play to the middle of the green, two-putt and move on, protecting his lead while forcing Oppenheim — and the rest of the golfers chasing him — to make a move.

It’s the kind of attitude with which Renner had played all day. It’s that kind of play that led Renner to equal the low round of the Charlie’s Portland Maine Open with a 64. That round, on top of his Day 1-low 65, earned Renner his second title in three years at Riverside Municipal Golf Course.

“I’ve always got that good memory of being here and winning,” Renner said. “I’ve learned how to play this course. It’s funny, because there are no real tricks to it.”

Renner’s first professional win came in 2007 in the Portland Open at Riverside. His two-day total of 129 this week was three better than journeyman pro John Elliott and Oppenheim, who was coming off a win at the Massachusetts Open.

“There was nothing I could really do,” Oppenheim said. “He got off to a great start and all day, there was a small stretch on the back nine, but all day I just couldn’t catch back up. That said, He went out and won this thing today, I can’t say I went out and lost it, and I think that’s important.”

“He’s playing about an consistently as anyone out there right now,” Renner said of Oppenheim. “It takes good golf to beat him, and he had a great round today.”

Keegan Fennessy of Minot, who began the day one back and played in the final group with Oppenheim and Renner, fired a 73 to finish 10 back.
After an average start — Renner was 1-under through three — the Plainville, Mass. golfer took off. Birdies at the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth holes — nearly all from the rough off the tee — cemented his lead.

There was a buzz as Renner walked past the clubhouse at the turn. He was 6-under through nine holes.

And he birdied the 10th.

But Oppenheim missed an eagle chance on that same hole, and with it, perhaps missed his best chance to get into Renner’s head.

“That would have been nice,” Oppenheim said. “I couldn’t really get any momentum going.”

Renner steadied himself from there, parring the next four holes before taking aim at the stick on 15.

Elliott, playing in the group ahead of Renner, watched behind him as Renner kept making birdies. But it didn’t deter him.

“At that point you just have to remind yourself, keep making birdies and keep playing for it,” Elliott said.

Most of the top golfers found it a bit easier to play Wednesday than Tuesday, but overall the second round played nearly a half stroke tougher. In Round 1 on Tuesday, the soggy track yielded a 74.3 stroke average through 18 holes. Wednesday, the same golfers averaged 74.6.

“This is one of those tournaments, one of those weeks where, if you let (the conditions) get to you, you can find yourself making a string of bogeys,” Renner said. “You have to stay patient and be confident in your strokes.”

Bob Darling Jr. of Lewiston and Dave Grygiel of North Windham each fired a 2-under 141 to share top Maine Chapter pro honors, and they shared senior pro honors in the Davis Richardson Senior Division with Jerry Courville of Westport, Conn.

Mark Plummer was the low senior amateur at 4-over 147, while Ryan Gay took top honors in the open amateur division, making him the man to beat at next week’s Maine Amateur at Martindale Country Club in Auburn.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.