AUBURN — It was a group of three pretty serious golfers teeing off Tuesday morning.

Even amid the pressure putts and crucial swings in the first round of the Maine Amateur golf tournament at Martindale Country Club on Tuesday, Ryan Gay and Mark Plummer shared plenty of laughs.

“We try to play as much as we can,” said Gay, the defending champ. “I’m gone a lot for tournaments, but whenever I’m around Augusta, I kind of fill in for his foursome quite often. We played a practice round here together. It’s a lot of fun playing together. We crack some jokes out there with each other.”

The tandem create quite an interesting pair. Gay is the 18-year-old star on the rise, while Plummer is the 57-year-old wily veteran. Between the two of them, they have 14 Maine Amateur titles, with Plummer owning 13 of them.

“It’s crazy what he’s done,” Gay said. “He’s got 13 now. That’s insane. People don’t stay amateur long enough to do that anymore. I’m taking one at a time now, and it will take forever to get to that number.”

Gay ended his round Tuesday at even par. Plummer was 6-over, while two-time champion Ricky Jones — the third member of the threesome — was 3-over. They also played in the final threesome in last year’s final round of the tournament.

“It was fun,” Plummer said. “I loved the pairing. It was a great pairing. It was two really good golfers and me. It worked out pretty good.”

Plummer laughed off his struggles Tuesday and said it was one of those rounds that just didn’t go well.

“I haven’t been playing well the last couple weeks,” he said. “I didn’t have any illusions of doing awfully well this week.”

Gay was actually 3-under at one point before the rains came and a bad stretch of weather hurt his cause.

“Ryan played great except for a stretch of three holes,” Plummer said. “He was 3-under and then he went bogey, double bogey, (par) and bogey. He was going along great, but then he had a stretch where he gave back everything he had gained.”

Still, despite the struggles, Plummer and Gay joked and kidded their way around the course. They even shared a laugh at the scorer’s table when checking each other’s cards.

“It’s fun watching him progress,” said Plummer, who says watching Gay play sometimes put him in his “way-back machine” to when he was a young golfer. “He’s been a good player for a while, but he’s still getting better. He’s a good kid. We enjoy each other and enjoy playing with each other. We root for each other.”

Plummer has been an icon in Maine golf throughout his career, and Gay admits he’s learned a lot from him. Having the chance to play together so often has been a great opportunity to learn from one of the best. Gay says he admires Plummer’s ability to do what he has to do to get the ball in the hole and score when needed.

Despite their familiarity, the golfers were also all business. Playing with Gay made it feel like another other round, but it was still a significant tournament both were playing to win.

“It’s still the Maine Amateur,” Plummer said. “It’s a little more comfortable playing with guys that you’re used to playing with, but it was tough out there. I didn’t play well, but it could have been worse.”

The three play together again Wednesday with a later tee time. With such a talented trio of players competing together, it is sure to pressure all three to bring out their best game.

“Any competitive person will see something else going on in front of him and try to do the best to keep pace,” Gay said. “It was definitely a lot of fun playing with these guys. You definitely kind of know where you stand after you play with them.”

Gay was still in the hunt despite his disappointing finish. His hope is to find some of the shots he left out there on the course.

“I let a good round go away,” he said. “I kind of thought I threw it away. I played well enough on the front to shoot 4- or 5-under. I just did it. I was like a few more birdies on the back, and it won’t be so bad. Then I just threw that round away. I definitely felt I should have shot lower today.”


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