OAKLAND — Mark Plummer made a run. Then John Hayes IV ran away.

His lead sliced to a single stroke after Plummer’s birdie on the first hole Thursday morning, Hayes answered with three consecutive birdies and led by as many as seven shots before winning the 96th Maine Amateur golf championship by five.

“I don’t know how many birdies I had on the front nine, but it was a lot,” Hayes said. “The back nine kind of slowed me down every day. I got off to a good start and tried to hold onto it.”

Twelve front-nine birdies was Hayes’ total for the tournament, to answer his question, including four of his five red numbers in the finale.

He mixed in two bogeys for a final-round 67 and a three-day total of 201. Plummer shot even-par 70, his highest round of the week, and finished at 206.

“I really put the fear of God into him, didn’t I?” Plummer quipped. “I birdied the first hole and then he rattled off those three birdies in a row and never really opened the door.”


It is the first Maine Amateur title for Hayes, 25, who makes his home in both Cape Elizabeth and Newport, R.I., and competes out of Nonesuch River Golf Club in Scarborough. Plummer, 63, was seeking his 14th win overall and first since 2002.

Hayes started the day with a two-shot cushion and didn’t have to be perfect, but he was startlingly close. His week-long strategy of 9-iron and pitching wedge approach shots and staying below every pin on Waterville’s sloping greens proved even more effective while nursing a lead.

Plummer rolled in his birdie from inside 10 feet at No. 1 to get to 5-under. Hayes returned the favor at the second hole.

“It was a really tough putt,” Hayes said. “I was surprised it went in, because there was a five-foot break. Fortunately it went in, and I started making birdies from there.”

On 3, Hayes stayed south of the target and drained a birdie from eight feet. Plummer missed a Hail Mary eagle bid from the right fringe, but more costly was the ensuing 3-footer, which drifted wide.

Plummer delivered a difficult two-putt at 4, but Hayes dunked another one from inside 10 feet, this one a downhiller with dangerous break.


“I didn’t make much happen,” Plummer said. “I didn’t play badly, but I wasn’t hitting any shots in close enough to make any birdies. He was just playing so good.”

The margin remained at four until Plummer capped the front nine with consecutive bogeys. He missed from four feet at 8 and left himself too much of a return trip from a downhill birdie bid at 9.

And after hitting his second shot to the par-5 ninth into the rough, short and right of the green, Hayes calmly chipped on and cashed in the resulting birdie to get to double digits.

“Obviously that was the end of it unless something drastic happened, and it didn’t look like it was going to, the way he was playing,” Plummer said. “He hit the ball good, putted good, played smart, did a nice job.”

Hayes’ 32 on the front nine was one shot better than his opening round Tuesday, when he shot 65 and put the field in catch-up mode for the duration.

He bogeyed 13 while Plummer two-putted from another Zip code to gain ground, but that was erased by Hayes’ signature shot of the tournament on 14. After his drive trickled into a right-side fairway bunker, Hayes coaxed maximum distance and a marksman’s accuracy with his pitching wedge.


The ball nearly rolled into the hole before Hayes settled for the formality of another birdie.

“I knew I just had to skull it out of the bunker, but it turned out way better,” Hayes said. “I couldn’t hit any of my high-lofted wedges at all today. All the birdies I had, it was 9-iron or pitching wedge.”

Hayes’ other bogey was a three-putt at 18, where his birdie try to break 200 for the tourney went screaming past the hole.

It was one of the few shots of the week that didn’t follow Hayes’ script to the letter.

“I turned at 4-under (for the day) and wasn’t thinking about the lead at all, and Alex (McFarlane), my caddy, said now let’s try to shoot 4-under on the back,” Hayes said “Obviously I didn’t do that, but that’s what I was trying to do.”

Three-time winner Ricky Jones of Thomaston and defending champion Andrew Slattery joined Hayes as the only players to break par in the final round.


Jones finished third at 211. Slattery of West Minot was eighth with 217.

Sam Grindle (212) of Deer Isle and Joe Walp (213) of Portland completed the top five.

Hayes is a past junior and match play champion in Maine and also won a Rhode Island state amateur in 2013. His older sister, Alyssa, captured the WMSGA women’s amateur state title at Sugarloaf in 2002.

He has competed in the Maine Amateur since he was 13 years old, with a best previous finish of fifth at Sunday River in 2012.

“It’s taken a while, but I’m glad I got it done,” he said.

Plummer last claimed runner-up honors seven years ago. It is the seventh time he has finished second in addition to his record number of titles.


“That’s probably as good I’m going to play in three days. You’ve got to give it all to Johnny, who played better,” Plummer said. “There’s not much you can do. It wasn’t like it was one shot or two shots. He was pretty well in control. He played well and deserved it.”

Beating the state’s living legend made the championship an even greater gem for Hayes.

“Last year at the Woodlands, Mark didn’t play, and it didn’t feel right,” Hayes said. “It was awesome playing with him for the first time. The way he gets the ball in the hole, especially for how old he is, it’s pretty impressive.”


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