OAKLAND — After an attempted banana cut that proved fruitless, leading to a double bogey Tuesday morning, John Hayes IV didn’t panic.

Two-over par, merely three holes into the 96th Maine Amateur, might have looked like a dreadful start. The gamble fit into Hayes’ risk-versus-reward scheme, however.

“I was just trying to make eagle on that hole,” Hayes said. “You might as well be super aggressive, because you can make so many birdies. That was my thought process.”

True to that strategy, Hayes rebounded with five consecutive 3s — four of them for birdie — and set the foundation for a sizzling 65 that furnished him a four-shot lead at Waterville Country Club.

Hayes, 25, who splits his time between Cape Elizabeth, Newport, R.I., and Florida, also birdied Nos. 9, 15 and 18 to close out a nearly flawless journey around the century-old layout.

“My last four rounds I’ve made four to eight birdies every round,” Hayes said. “You have a wedge into pretty much every hole, so you can make a lot of birdies.”


It was the second 65 in as many days at Waterville for Hayes, who also registered seven birdies in a Monday practice round.

Hayes leads two players at opposite ends of the age spectrum.

Sam Grindle, 20, of Deer Isle, and 13-time Maine Amateur winner Mark Plummer, 63, of Manchester, each shot 1-under 69.

Grindle, who just completed his second year at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., drained birdie putts at 2, 3, 5 and 7 to launch his round with authority.

He sandwiched his only other birdie, at 11, between bogeys. Grindle also gave back shots at 14 and 17.

“The only shot I would take back is the tee shot on 9. I was in the trees and had to punch out. That would have been the last good opportunity,” Grindle, who took par on the hole, said.


Strong winds plagued many of the players with early morning tee times as they hit the home stretch.

“I got into some trouble,” Grindle, who recently won the Paul Bunyan amateur tournament for the second consecutive year, said. “I had a few shots that were into the wind. They didn’t hold the ball up as much as I thought they would.”

Plummer last won the state tournament in 2002. He parlayed a steady front nine and a strong finishing kick into a red number.

He was bogey-free with a lone birdie at 6 on the front nine, then rallied after a three-putt on 11 and a bogey out of a bunker at 13 with consecutive birdies on 14 and 15.

“Pretty steady,” Plummer said. “I was lucky to regroup and make a couple of birdies coming in to save my round. It could have been a little better, but it could have been worse, too. I’d have taken that (score) before I teed off.”

Jeff Cole of York notched 70. Kevin Byrne carded 1-over on his home course and is at 71 with Brent Barker of Bar Harbor and three-time Maine Amateur winner Ricky Jones of Thomaston.


Defending champion Andrew Slattery of West Minot and Martindale Country Club is in a five-way tie at 72 after a double bogey on the 398-yard, par-4 17th.

“It’s a goofy tee shot. They’ve got the tees back so the limbs are hanging from the right, and you’ve got to hit a low slice to hit a good tee shot, really,” Slattery said. “It doesn’t fit me. I hit the ball straight, had some tree problems, and six shots later … Other than that I was pretty solid.”

Slattery sank birdies at 1, 9, 14 and 15.

Waterville’s four par-3s were his nemesis. He made bogey on three of them.

“Birdied the first hole, bogeyed the second,” Slattery said. “Kept going up and down the whole way around. It was 1-under, 1-over, even, the whole way around until 17.”

Hayes’ graph was more of a diagonal line after his unplayable lie on No. 3, which plays 460 yards. He tried to eliminate the dogleg, didn’t get the favorable wind he anticipated, and ended up in the trees.


The University of Colorado graduate recovered quickly with a birdie at 4.

“I hit my hybrid about 300 yards, then hit it to five feet, made the birdie putt,” Hayes said. “And even though I was 1-over at the time, I’m like, there’s so many birdies out there that I can go pretty low.”

Hayes returned to level par on the fifth before sinking successive birdies at 7, 8 and 9.

His citizenship in two New England states also makes Hayes eligible for Rhode Island amateur tournaments. He won its stroke-play version of the state title in 2013.

Three summers ago, Hayes topped the field in Maine’s match play invitational. He has struggled in the stroke play format, however, most recently finishing 15 shots off the pace after an opening-round 81 at Woodlands a year ago.

“The last four years I’ve felt like my game has been good enough to win the Maine Am, but it hasn’t panned out,” Hayes said.


Hayes is aware that a blistering first round won’t be enough to win the tournament.

He was tied for third recently after the first day of the Northeast Amateur in East Providence, R.I., before tumbling to 30th. Hayes still finished ahead of Danny McCarthy, who was coming off a top-20 finish at the U.S. Open.

“It’s a weird game,” Hayes said. “I know I have to keep making as many birdies as I can.”

Michael McNaboe, Thomas Bean, Greg Martin and Joe Walp joined Slattery at 72.

Joe Baker of Oxford and Norway Country Club played the final 10 holes at even, thanks largely to an eagle on 9, and is nine shots off the pace at 4-over 74.

Caleb Manuel of Topsham, the youngest player in the field at 13, used a chip-in at 17 and a sand save on 18, both for par, to cap his 76.


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