MANCHESTER — Local golf enthusiasts at work Monday morning and sneaking a peek at live scoring of the 95th Charlie’s Maine Open might have been surprised to see Jace Pearson’s name and red number atop the list for two, three, almost four hours.

Probably nobody was stunned as Martindale Country Club assistant professional Pearson himself.

“This is the first tournament I’ve played this year,” Pearson said. “Maybe it is (a surprise) to hold it together. I figured there would be a lot of pro shop rust coming out of things. There was a little bit out back, but I was able to keep it glued together and play it out.”

Pearson, 39, birdied four of the first nine holes and shot 3-under 67 at Augusta Country Club, leaving himself only two shots back of leader Mack Duke entering Tuesday’s championship round.

The native of Wrentham, Mass. — where he was a neighbor of former University of Maine hockey goaltender and current New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow — moved to Maine in 1991 to attend the University of Maine at Farmington.

He played in Maine State Golf Association summer events and in the Maine Open as an amateur for many years before making the transition to teaching pro.

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“The conditions were right and I needed kind of a career change,” Pearson said. “I really wanted to pursue this, and it’s been very good.”

There’s one drawback, of course. The days of Pearson playing competitively have all but vanished.

“The mantra is if you get in the business, do not get in the business to play golf,” he said. “My lessons have been up this year, which has been wonderful, and that’s pretty much my free time. Believe it or not, despite the weather, we’ve been really busy. It’s been awesome.”

Pearson hadn’t played Augusta since the 2012 Maine Open.

If there was ever a perfect fit for the part-time player — other than having home-course advantage, of course — it’s the half-hour drive up Route 202.

“What’s great about this course, (built in) 1916, playing out of Martindale, from a very similar time period, 1921, (you see) very similar things,” Pearson said. “There are a few more flat lies here than Martindale, but it feels very familiar.”

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As a teacher of the sport, Pearson finds that many of his lessons center around the short game.

That played into his hands, also, at Augusta, where the punitive rough and short (6,214-yard) length rewards players who stay in the middle of the fairway and hit 9-irons or wedges into the green.

“What’s great about teaching is it’s great to give examples of different shots and show them what to do,” Pearson said. “The wedge game has been there, because that’s what we work on a lot. That’s there, but the thing is to hold it together to the extent that I was able to today.”

Making early putts helped Pearson’s round gain momentum.

So did the efficiency of his playing partners. New York pro Abbie Valentine also shot 67, while Fox Ridge Golf Club amateur Andrew Slattery of Minot checked in at 68.

The trio got into its rhythm early and stayed there.

“It also helps to play with a good bunch of characters,” said Pearson, who lives in Auburn about a mile from his spring, summer and fall open-air office. “Very steady, easy to get along with, and when you have a conducive environment it’s easy to shoot way down.”

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