That’s understandable, in light of a 7 a.m. Tuesday tee time at Waterville Country Club. And it was a foregone conclusion, given his status as defending Maine Amateur champion.

Slattery hasn’t played himself out of a chance to go back-to-back. The 26-year-old from West Minot shot an all-over-the-charts, 2-over 72 and is seven shots back of leader John Hayes IV after the first round of the 54-hole showcase.

“I wasn’t as nervous on the first tee as I thought I would be,” Slattery said. “Maybe a little for the first four or five holes, but then I calmed down a little bit. It was a different feeling, though.”

Four birdies offset four bogeys in an eventful round.

Slattery double-bogeyed 17 for a score that matched last year’s opening-round 72, although that was even par at Woodlands Club in Falmouth. He backed it up with two 71s for the biggest individual title of his career.

Wednesday is a potential moving day on a Waterville course that is shorter and affords birdie opportunities to players who are accurate with approach shots.

“It’s short, but the greens are tricky. You’ve got to be in the right spots or it’s over. The greens are fast. They’re firm. It’s not easy out there, and with this wind picking up it’s going to be tough,” Slattery said. “Pretty much every hole you want to be below the pin. Hit it short. That’s the easiest way to make par.”

The eagle has landed

It wasn’t the round of Joe Baker’s life, but the Oxford golfer’s 74 did include one of the few eagles on opening day.

Baker needed the emotional lift after a double bogey at 8. He got it when he chipped in for three at the 505-yard, par-5 ninth.

“I chipped in from the back of the green,” Baker said. “It was a good up and down. I was just hoping to make four and get the heck out of there. That got me back on track for a little while.”

Baker immediately gave back a shot with a bogey at 10, then carded two more at 16 and 17 before finishing with a three-footer for birdie.

He finished sixth in the tournament a year ago.

“I think these greens are much quicker (than Woodlands),” Baker said. “There’s a lot more slope involved. You have to think about where to put your second shot, and 10 feet from the hole might not be good. The greens are speeding up. You pray for a two-putt and get out of there.”

Nine shots off the pace after Hayes’ scalding 65, Baker said he hopes to get back to par for the tournament and take his chances.

“I’d take two under tomorrow, two under the next day and see where it puts me,” Baker said. “It can happen if somebody’s rolling the putter good.”

Byrne notice

Waterville member Kevin Byrne served up some home cooking Tuesday, shooting 71 to stay within shouting distance of the lead.

Byrne birdied the par-4 No. 1, par-5 No. 9 and par-3 No. 13.

“The wind kind of picked up and messed it up a little bit, but I was pleased with it,” Byrne said. “I wanted to be around par for the first day and see where we can go from there.”

Local knowledge is a key to taming the sloping greens at Waterville.

“Conditions are awesome. The greens are firm and rolling quick. It’s a little different from when we play every day, obviously. It’s set up well, and I think it’s going to be a good week,” Byrne said. “I think it’s just going to depend where you miss. Any hole out here can be tough if you miss the wrong spot with the quick greens and the rough starting to get thicker around the greens.”

Almost shot his age

Whenever Mark Plummer is close to home on a course that fits his crafty game, look out.

One year after sitting out the Maine Amateur for family reasons, Plummer, whose 13 titles have made his name synonymous with the tournament, is a contender after an opening-round 69.

Subtract six from that and you get Plummer’s age.

“It’s good to get back in the groove, especially up here,” he said. “This is more my style of course. Woodlands is a little long, a little tough for me. That was probably a good year to sit out.”

Plummer won the Maine Amateur in 1973, 1976, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1989, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2002. He also was runner-up in 1975, 1979, 1990, 1998 and 2008.

Will can’t find his way

Suffice it to say that Will Kannegieser of Minot was less enamored with his opening-round 78 than the 79 that got him started a year ago.

“Nothing was working. I didn’t make any birdies,” Kannegieser said. “Well, I made one on 17, but that’s a little too late.”

Kannegeiser, Maine’s junior amateur champion in 2013 and 2014, bogeyed four of the first five holes and carded nine in all.

“I’m kind of surprised I played this poorly,” Kannegieser said, “because I like the course and its sets up pretty well for my game. It’s disappointing.”

If there is a silver lining, it’s that the teenager still is within striking distance of the cut.

“I can be really aggressive (Wednesday) and not have to worry about what I shoot, because it’s do or die,” Kannegieser said. “Definitely if you give yourself good chances for birdie, you can make birdies, but if you’re far away the greens are fast here. Putting from long range is difficult with the slope.”

Youth is served

Caleb Manuel of Topsham, the youngest player in the field at 13, used a terrific sand save for par on the final hole to punctuate his opening-round 76.

“I was a little nervous,” Manuel said. “I’m pretty happy. I chipped in on for par on 17, too.”

Tri-county rundown

Other local players and their scores: Zack DeBlois (former Saint Dominic Academy standout, now out of Nonesuch River) 74; Mike Brennan (Norway CC) 75; Chris Cloutier (Fox Ridge) 75; Truman Libby (Springbrook) 77; Matt Ouellette (Fox Ridge) 77; Tim Doyle Jr (Turner Highlands) 78; Mike Bouchard (Fox Ridge) 78; Craig Chapman (Fox Ridge) 78; Brian Bilodeau (Martindale) 79; Bob Langlois (Poland Spring) 80; Chris Burns (Norway) 82; Daniel Bouttenot (Poland Spring) 85; and Harry Haylock (Turner Highlands) 85.

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