AUBURN — After the first round of the 2017 Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at Martindale Country Club, it’s a battle between the young and a seasoned veteran.

The two-time defending Maine Women’s Amateur champion Staci Creech out of Bangor Municipal and Bailey Plourde, the defending Maine Junior girls’ champion and girls’ high school state singles co-champion, are tied at the top after both shot an even-par 71 Monday morning.

The pair had the first tee time of the morning, but both said they didn’t pay attention to what the other was doing.

“I stayed focused. I can’t control what everybody else is doing so I controlled what I was doing,” Creech said. “I just concentrate on that and not worry about anybody else.”

“I played with her last year. We kept to ourselves; we didn’t talk much,” Plourde said. “We played our own games and focused on ourselves.”

Plourde, who plays out of Samoset Resort, finished second to Creech last year at the tournament but was eight shots back from Creech.

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Creech, the Husson University women’s golf coach, for the most part had a clean scorecard, as she had 14 pars, two birdies and two bogeys. The birdies came late on each nine, with a birdie on the eighth and another on the 18th. Both holes are par-5s.

“I putted well, my short game was good, I didn’t hit as well as I like to,” Creech said. “It’s important, always having birdies helps, but I didn’t feel like I always had putts for birdies.”

It was a little more up and down for Plourde. Her round got off a rocky start, as she bogeyed the opening uphill, 265-yard par-4. She matched Creech’s birdie on No. 8 with a birdie of her own as both made the turn at even par. On the backside for Plourde, it took more work to stay even. Like the first hole, she bogeyed the par-4 10th. She birdied the par-5 12th hole before giving back that shot at the 14th. She birdied the final par-3 on the course at 17 to get back to even par.

“I was confident this morning. I felt like when I needed to hit a good shot, I did,” Plourde said. “I was feeling confident in my swing. My short game was pretty good, I didn’t miss too many putts that I should have made; that was good. I think I only had one three-putt. Confidence was key today.”

The duo is three shots ahead of Elizabeth Lacognata, who shot a 74. She only had one birdie and she had to overcome a double bogey on the par-4 third hole. Lacognata, when she took out the driver, was the longest in her group. She was playing with Lewiston’s Stephanie Rodrigue and Minot’s Kristin Kannegieser.

After some of her long drives, it was her approach shots that let her down a bit.

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“Being long off the tee was a big help today,” Lacognata said. “My approach shots could have been a little better, of course, but they were where I needed to be to two-putt or one-putt.”

Lacognata, who plays out of The Woodlands in Falmouth, had bogeys on the 12th and 16th holes.

She sits three shots ahead of Jordan Laplume out of Dunegrass, who shot a 6-over 77.

“I hit a lot of good drives and driver is key on this (course),” Laplume said. “I used driver most of the day and I had a lot of putts that dropped, which is really nice.

There’s a trio one shot behind Laplume at 7-over, which includes Ruby Haylock out of Turner Highlands. Erin Holmes out of Val Halla, who was in the opening group with Creech and Plourde, and Kathi O’Gray of The Woodlands were also 7-over.

Kannegieser was the low Martindale member, as she was 8-over for the day and all alone in eighth place.

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Having course knowledge was sometimes a detriment for her.

“There were times I was trying not to hit places that were bad places to be,” Kannegieser said. “Same thing with putting. Like the 18th is a prime example: I left both of those (putts) short because usually 18 is speedy fast. I think sometimes I knew too much.”

Other Martindale members include Melissa Johnson, who is tied for 25th at plus-18, while Neila Nelke was one shot behind her. Janelle Bryant is plus-22 in 46th place and Danielle Rock is tied for 62nd at plus-34.

Leslie Guenther of Norway Country Club had the shot of the day at the 104-yard, par-3 11th hole. Her tee shot, which she took with a 9-iron, landed in front of the cup and rolled in for an ace.

“I have played here a number of times and it’s not necessarily an easy hole,” Guenther said. “The green is kind of tricky and you need to get it to the right level. I hit a very good shot and I felt very good about the shot. It was drawing in and landed, it rolled 4-6 feet; that was awesome. That was a pleasant surprise.”

The ace made the six she recorded on the par-3 9th a little more bearable. She’s in ninth, nine shots off the leaders.

Other local golfers taking part include Pudenciana Hornberger of Turner Highlands, who is in 12th after shooting an 81, with fellow Turner Highlands member Heidi Haylock shooting an 82. Rodrigue, who plays out of Fox Ridge, also shot an 82. Mia Hornberger is in 24th at 16-over. Debora Murphy out of Springbrook is in 26th at 17-over. Karen Richardson of Turner Highlands is in 45th after shooting a 92, while Rachel Newman of Springbrook is in 57th after carding a 100.

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