AUBURN – One putt followed another, and two more came after that. It was a span of a few moments on the 11th green that Ricky Jones thought his round slipped away in a hurry.

“I blew it,” Jones said of his thoughts following a four-putt double-bogey on the 11th hole Thursday during the second round of the Maine Amateur at Martindale.

Jones, a two-time Maine Amateur champ, was hoping to keep pace with leaders Jesse Speirs and Ryan Gay. After a 3-over 74 Tuesday, Jones was hoping to make up ground on the leaders.Trying to keep pace with Speirs or Gay proved to be a steep challenge.

“When I started on 10, I saw what Jesse shot,” said Jones, who was even after nine and heard that Speirs had finished with a three-under 68 in the second round. “I told myself that I wanted to shoot at least 3-under on the back. I birdied 10. I knew if I got past 11, I’d have a good chance to do it because I know 18 doesn’t play a very difficult par 5.”

Instead of gaining momentum, Jones nearly watched his round derail completely on the 11th green as he struggled to sink putt after putt.

“I knocked it about three feet past,” said Jones. “I played break on the next putt, and I jammed it and missed the break. Then I missed the next one.”

Jones bogeyed 15 and birdied the final hole, just missing an eagle,  to finish at 72. It was still good enough to put him in the final group, even though he’s seven shots behind the leader.

“I’d have to go really low tomorrow,” said Jones. “I’ve shot 60 before. So you never know what can happen.”

Jones already has a full day ahead of him Friday. He’s flying out at 5:30 p.m. to compete in Oklahoma in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Jones didn’t have high expectations for his round there after struggling recently, but he did find some positives in Thursday’s round.

“Today I felt good,” he said. “I felt like I hit my driver good. I hit a couple iron shots in the wrong places. Before today, my (outlook) wasn’t very good. I wasn’t hitting my driver good at all.”

Though Jones managed to salvage a decent score to stay within reach of Speirs and Gay, many of the others who were atop the leader board after the first round dropped significantly.

Tim Poulin, Jason Gall, Joe Alvarez and Scott Sirois were all at 73 after Tuesday’s play. Sirois managed a 75 Thursday but Poulin, Alvarez and Gall all struggled. Alvarez shot a 77. Poulin finished with a  78 while Gall settled for a 79.

“It was poor ball striking,” said Poulin of Lakewood. “I made a lot of putts for par, but not a lot for birdie. I missed a lot of greens. I hit some fairways but was off on iron shots.”

After shooting his 73 in the sloppy wind and rain Tuesday, Poulin couldn’t match that in the sunshine two days later. He said the conditions didn’t play a factor at all.

“I knew I had to make more putts,” he said. “I hit the ball pretty well (Tuesday). I hit a lot of fat shots today. It was nothing to do with the weather. I was just mechanics.”

Gall watched his round unravel on 12. One bad shot led to disastrous results that his round couldn’t overcome.

“It was the only hook I hit all week,” said the Augusta golfer. “It went in the trees, and I didn’t find it. I made an 8. I wasn’t able to recover.”

Gall had been even on the front nine but after his 8 on the 12th hole, he struggled and scored four straight bogeys before a birdie on 18.

“I think I just lost focus and lost concentration after 12,” he said. “This is a tricky golf course. You have to know when to be aggressive and when not to be.”


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