AUBURN — Jesse Speirs has been knocking on the door of a Maine Amateur golf title for a number of years, but the Bangor native would only come close. And, in golf, close isn’t good enough.

“A couple of years, I didn’t play in it,” said Speirs, who finished second at the Portland Country Club in 2006. “A couple of years, I didn’t play so well. It’s nice to win this because I always wanted to win this.”

With Speirs likely to go pro sometime in the next year, Friday’s final round of the Maine Amateur very well could be his last. The senior at Ole Miss made sure it was a memorable one by shooting an even-par 71 to beat out defending champion, Ryan Gay, by four strokes.

“It feels good,” Speirs said. “I’ve been preparing pretty well for this tournament. I’m taking it easy this summer to focus on a few tournaments. This is one of the tournaments I wanted to focus on. The results ended up in my favor. It was a tough 54 holes with all the wet conditions.”

Speirs, who’ll turn 23 in November, played three rounds at Martindale last week in preparation.He devoted all his attention to maximizing his opportunity this week and watched it pay off.

He not only learned how to manage the golf course effectively, but also found a mental approach that served him well.

“This week I really learned some patience,” he said. “You learn something with every tournament. I really learned how to be patient and accept par. I was in position to make some good birdies, and I was making pars, but you have to be patient.”

Speirs has had four top-five finishes at Ole Miss and seven top-10s. His best finish was second at the Memphis Intercollegiate during the 2007-2008 season. The Maine Amateur title will certainly be a nice addition to his growing resume.

“I’ve been close to winning in a number of collegiate tournaments, but wasn’t quite able to pull it off,” Speirs said. “It feels good to be in the final group and playing against great players and be able to pull it off. It should give me a lot of confidence the rest of the summer and into next year.”

Speirs will graduate next May and then expects a pro career to start soon thereafter.

“Depending on how things are going, I’ll either turn pro right after that or wait until fall and go to (PGA) qualifying school,” Speirs said.

He still had some unfinished business as an amateur this week. He entered Friday’s final round with a three-shot lead on Gay. Speirs simply wanted to play steady and continue the kind of play he had produced all week.

“I wasn’t really trying to protect the lead,” Speirs said. “I was just trying to stick to what I’d been doing all week. I was just trying to keep it in the fairway and not miss on any bad sides on the greens. I think the biggest key was that I kept my mistakes to a minimum. I didn’t make any doubles. I had a few bogeys.”

Speirs was 1-under on the front Friday, scoring birdies on the second and eighth holes, but offsetting that with a bogey on the fourth. He had back-to-back bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes, but maintained his lead. He finished with a birdie on 18.

“I made a couple of bad iron shots, but for the most part, I kept it in play,” he said.


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