BAR HARBOR — A week of rest and relaxation with his family at one of the top vacation destinations on the East coast would have been more than enough to make Jason Gall a happy guy this week.

A sub-par round of golf in sweltering heat at one of the country’s oldest golf courses and a spot atop the leaderboard was icing on the cake.

Gall, playing in the third group of the day, knocked in five birdies and made just two bogeys to card a 3-under-par 67 at Kebo Valley Golf Club on Tuesday, giving him the lead after one day at the 91st Maine Amateur Golf Championship.

“We’ve got to make it quick,” Gall said after his round. “I want to go enjoy the afternoon with my kids.”

Gall, who plays out of Augusta Country Club in Manchester, tied last week for low amateur at the Charlie’s Portland Maine Open with Ricky Jones.

“I love this golf course, which helps,” Gall said, “and I think you need a little luck out there. Good shots are rewarded, and if you get into trouble, you have to take your medicine and get back into it. But I’ve been playing surprisingly well, and I don’t know what the reason is. But it’s nice to see.”

Right on his heels is another golfer who played early in the day, before the heat and humidity bared their teeth.

And he can’t even legally drive on his own yet.

Seth Sweet, a standout golfer at Madison High School and on the Maine State Golf Association’s junior circuit who’s still two weeks shy of his 16th birthday, carded four birdies and a pair of bogeys to finish at 2-under 68, one off of Gall’s pace.

“Putting today, definitely putting was the key,” Sweet said. “Yesterday my caddy and I were out here, and we saw all the dots where the holes were going to be, so we marked that down, and today he was able to tell me where to hit it, or where I could miss. I listened to him every time and was able to hit those spots.”

Kebo Valley’s greens were the talk of the day. Smallish in size, the greens are well-protected by several subtle undulations, and depending on the pin placements, they can be downright nasty.

“If you are on the high side of these pins, you’re playing with fire here,” Curtis Jordan, now of Portland, said.

Jordan, from Minot originally and still a frequent player at Fox Ridge in Auburn, hasn’t played as much as he’d like to recently, but he still managed a solid 2-over-par 72.

“My game’s just been so inconsistent,” Jordan said. “I’ve been hitting a lot of balls, and the practice seems to be finally paying off.”

Though Kebo Valley has its tempting holes, Jordan found that playing to a target distance worked better than hitting the ball hard off the tee every time.

“I carried five wedges today,” he said. “Yeah, some of the par-3s are a bit longer, but to leave yourself that 100-yard shot in, and to able to take a full, comfortable swing into the greens no matter how far out you are, that was more important.”

Johnny Hayes IV out of Purpoodock finished at even-par 70 later in the afternoon to earn a spot in the top three.

One of the most familiar faces in Maine golf, Mark Plummer, missed the Maine Amateur for just the second time since 1973 this week after medication he was taking for a pinched nerve caused a bleeding ulcer. The 13-time champion stayed home this week to rest.

Meanwhile, Ron Brown Jr., another former champion, played in his 36th consecutive Maine Amateur. MSGA officials believe that streak to be the longest in their history.

Brian Bilodeau out of Martindale Country Club was the low area golfer Tuesday with a 1-over-par 71. Other area finishers Tuesday included Andrew Slattery of Fox Ridge (74), Joe Manganaro of Martindale (75), Bob Langlois of Fox Ridge (75), Craig Chapman of Fox Ridge (76), Ted Stratman of Fox Ridge (77), Mark Stasium of Martindale (78), Joe Baker of Norway Country Club (79), Seth Fournier of Oakdale (81), Perry Goodspeed of Fox Ridge (82) and Andy Stonehouse of Martindale (85).


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