BAR HARBOR — Even at 19, Ryan Gay knows it’s OK to shed a few tears.

Gay, of Pittston, clutched the winner’s crystal bowl in his hands as he rattled off a list of thank-yous — to the staff at Kebo Valley, to the Maine State Golf Association, and to his parents.

When he got to his grandfather, he paused. Tears welled in his eyes and he began to wipe them away one by one.

“My grandfather is the one who really got me into the game,” Gay said. “He passed away last summer, and while he got to see me win one … I know he’d really be proud of me right now, and I know he was watching.”

Gay was less than perfect on a golf course that begged golfers to be less than perfect. The sea breeze kicked up early, the holes were cut in tough positions, and the putts weren’t falling.

But despite those obstacles, when it mattered, Gay hit the putts.

After a poor approach to the 17th green and a mediocre effort to get to 12 feet in three, Gay drained that 12-footer for par while counterpart Jason Gall three-putted for double bogey.

That two-shot swing, and Gall’s missed birdie that lipped out at 18, allowed Gay to claim his second Maine Amateur title in three years with a three-day total of 212 at Kebo Valley Golf Club.

“I was missing putts all day long,” Gay said. “But I made one on 17 when it came down to it, and I made a good lag on 18 to get it close to make par.”

Gay began the day one shot better than Gall, from Augusta Country Club, and Seth Sweet of Lakewood. For the better part of the day, he remained one clear of Gall and Ricky Jones, playing in the group ahead of him.

“I knew I was one-up for a while, then it was even, then I was down one,” Gay said. “But I kept missing putts and missing putts and missing putts. I knew they had to fall eventually.”

It probably didn’t feel that way for a while. Gay bogeyed the fourth and ninth holes to make the turn two-over for the day and for the tournament.

Gall turned in one-over, and tied Gay for the lead. Jones, one hole ahead, birdied the tough-as-nails par-3 ninth and he, too, was tied for the lead.

Then, Jones’ putter caught the same case of the misses that plagued Gay’s flat blade.

“Tee to green I was fine,” Jones said. “I asked after nine, and I knew I was one back. I knew I was just that one shot away, but I just couldn’t make one. I probably shouldn’t have asked where I was when I did.”

Jones’ best chances came at 14 and 17. At 14, he missed a putt of less than five feet for birdie, and at 17 he had a chance for a rare birdie from 10 feet.

“I just hit those through the breaks,” Jones said.

His 69 was still the lone round of the day to be under par.

Gall, meanwhile, kept pace with and eventually passed Gay. After a bogey on the ninth, Gall also bogeyed 10 before settling in with a birdie on the long par-4 11th. He and Gay remained knotted at two-over until the 15th. There, Gall hit it stiff from the tee and drained the putt for a birdie two. Gay saved par from off the green, but was then one back.

“I had a hard time with the greens all week,” Gay said. “Fortunately, I’ve been in this position a few times now, and I am used to it.”

Gall opened the door on the 17th. After a fair drive, Gall hit what he thought was a perfect shot into the green. Instead, the ball skipped up to the back edge.

“It took four to get down,” Gall said. “(The 17th hole) had been good to me the first couple of days, but it got me (Thursday).”

Gall’s double combined with Gay’s 12-foot par save moved Gay from one shot back to one ahead with one to play. It seemed even more secure after Gall hit the ball onto a mound in the right rough off the 18th tee. Gay played safe, two shots to the middle of the green.

Gall’s shot came in high, dropped in close and left him with less than 10 feet for a tying birdie. That, too, lipped out.

“I thought I hit a good putt there, too,” Gall said. “It just caught the edge and didn’t drop.”

Gay stroked his putt to two feet and hit that for a par, a third-day 72 and a three-day winning total of 212, one better than both Gall and Jones.

Sweet, the 15-year-old who began the day one back of Gay, finished with a 76 for a 217, tied for fourth with Matt Greenleaf of Portland. Chris Hamel finished in sixth at 218.

Brian Bilodeau of Minot, out of Martindale Country Club, was the top area finished with 222, good for 11th place by himself. Joe Manganaro out of Martindale finished at 225, Andrew Slattery of Fox Ridge came in at 226, Curtis Jordan at 227, Jace Person of Fox Ridge at 229 and Bob Langlois of Fox Ridge at 235.


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