The 1995 champion, who is now the head pro at Fox Ridge Golf Club, tees off Monday at the two-day tournament a different player with the same old mindset.

“I think right now just mainly just playing a nice, solid two rounds, hopefully. If I can get under par, that’s great,” DiPhilippo said of his goal for the Open. “I still think that way, even though I’m not physically 100 percent. Just been playing this game a long time, I’ve kind of always had that.

“I still think I can play, and play pretty well. So that’s kind of the mindset I’m going to Monday with.”

DiPhilippo said he’s dealing with a bad hip that he needs to get replaced this winter. The ailment was one reason why he finished tied for 73rd and 15 shots back of the winner at last year’s Maine Open, which, like this year, was held at Augusta Country Club in Manchester.

With the same injury, he’ll try for a different outcome this year.

“I’ve been trying to get some playing in the last few weeks, and hitting some balls, so I can at least give it a good shot and try to play my best,” DiPhilippo said. “But the last few years (my hip has) been kind of holding me back a little bit.”

He had no such problems in 1995, when he was on top of his game — and the golf world in the state.

Playing at what could be considered a home course at Riverside in Portland, DiPhilippo bested Doug Johnson for his lone Maine Open victory.

“I had gotten my Nike Tour card that year and was playing the Nike Tour. We had a off week that week, which kind of helped out,” DiPhilippo said of 1995.

“Just by playing (on the tour) really kind of prepared me to play well at the Maine Open. I had a lot of confidence going into it. I was hitting the ball pretty decent. That was a nice momentum change, I guess, to come home and sleep in my own bed and know the golf course.”

The win made amends for a second-place finish at the Maine Open on the same course five years earlier. But the runner-up finish did give him some confidence to win it the tournament in 1995.

Knowing the course, where the Maine Open was held consecutively from 1987-95, helped as well.

“They used to have the Greater Portland Open there, too, which I had a couple good finishes there. Riverside I played a lot, so I knew the golf course quite a bit,” DiPhilippo said. “(It’s) a course I kind of grew up caddying on a little bit, and family members played there a lot, so that was kind of neat.”

The Gorham native’s new home course is also the site of his second — and most recent — runner-up finish in the Maine Open. DiPhilippo tied for second with two other players when the Open made the second of three straight trips to Fox Ridge in 2007.

“Fox Ridge is a great golf course. It can play really hard, especially when you get wind, and the greens get fast and firm,” said DiPhilippo. “I think that year 4- or 5-under won, and I think I was 3-under. I think the first year up here an even par won. So it played tough.”

DiPhilippo said he was “excited” to become the club’s new head pro this year, “knowing how nice (the course is).”

Augusta Country Club has played host each of the last four years, this year’s tournament marking the fifth year in a row. DiPhilippo said the course offers some “nice challenges.”

“They have some great holes there, obviously,” he said. “Really, the defense of that golf course is growing the rough up around the greens and getting those greens fast.

“If they get that rough up, it can play pretty tough.”

The former champ also said it will be tough for a Maine native to win the tournament. Last year’s winner, Matt Campbell, hailed from New York. The highest-finishing Mainer was former champ Shawn Warren, who tied for 14th, six shots back.

“There’s obviously a lot of good players that play in it from other states. And really all over the country, guys will come and play,” DiPhilippo said. “You have guys that are coming from all over now that are basically just playing.”

And all those younger players, DiPhilippo said, “just absolutely bomb the ball, and they got wedge (shots) everywhere.”

“You got to shoot low nowadays,” he said. “For a two-day tournament, you got to be thinking double-digits.”

DiPhilippo said he’s heard good things about 19-year-old amateur Matt Hutchins, who won the Maine Amateur two weeks ago. The Falmouth native provides hope for a Mainer winning again, as well as an amateur. Ricky Jones won the Open as an amateur in 2006, and Warren did the same thing two years before that.

“It’s always nice to see Maine guys play well,” DiPhilippo said. “It’s our state Open, so you want to try to give your best showing. So you’re always pulling for Maine guys. I think that’s just natural.”

The 1995 champ said it’s “tough to say” who will win this year’s tournament, but he admitted his triumph was “a while ago.” His body is different now than it was back then, as is today’s equipment. But despite an ailing hip and ever-increasing odds to win, DiPhilippo wasn’t about to miss this year’s Maine Open.

“I want to say I’ve probably missed the Maine Open maybe twice, and I’ve been a pro almost 29 years. So I try to really make it a point to play in it,” he said. “It’s always been a good tournament, a fun tournament.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.