Ruby Haylock tees off on the 15th hole during the 2nd round of Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship Tuesday afternoon at Martindale Country Club in Auburn.

Ruby Haylock tees off on the 15th hole during the 2nd round of Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship Tuesday afternoon at Martindale Country Club in Auburn.

AUBURN — The pressure began to mount in the second round of the Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship on Tuesday. It just didn’t seem to affect two-time defending champion Staci Creech.

It’s not to say Creech had an easy round. Just the opposite.

But Creech kept her cool when things didn’t go her way, and put herself in position for another title heading into Wednesday’s final round at Martindale Country Club.

“It was kind of a struggle. It wasn’t easy,” Creech said. “I didn’t feel like I hit the ball very solid. I didn’t give myself many birdie opportunities. I was in between clubs a bunch, and didn’t want to get too aggressive because if you get long then that’s not good. But left myself a lot of longer putts.”

Yet a 1-over 72, good enough to take the outright lead after a two-round 141, was enough for Creech to be “pleased” with where she sits.

Creech broke a first-round tie with Bailey Plourde, who shot a 4-over 75 that was still good enough to keep her comfortably in second place.

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“I shot a good enough round, kind of kept myself under control,” Plourde said. “I got a little sketchy at times. I was thinking about the past too much, but I had to move on. I feel like I shot an okay number, so I’m still in the range. So I got to to come back tomorrow and do well.”

Plourde said she hopes Creech has the pressure on her in the final round.

“Obviously she has a few stroke lead. Hopefully the pressure’s more on her to keep that lead,” Plourde said. “We’re all chasing her.”

An emphatic “nope” was what Creech had for an answer when asked if she feels any pressure as the leader.

“I really don’t pay attention. I know that sounds funny, but I really don’t pay attention to what they’re doing,” Creech said. “I’m just more concerned about what I’m doing. They’re young, strong girls and I play a completely different game than they do. I’m not very concerned about what they’re doing.”

Creech and Plourde — who recently graduated from Lincoln Academy — played in the final group, alongside Scarborough High School student Elizabeth Lacognata, who had an up and down day that ended with a 10-over 81 that put her fourth at 13-over for the tournament.

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“I tried to keep my mental game pretty straight as long as I could,” Lacognata said. “I think for me it was more — after all the reporters and cameras on the first nine, it was a new learning experience for me — so on the back I was in my head a little bit with some anger. But overall I think I played best in the new conditions. I’m young, so it can only get better.

“I had way too many three-putts. Also, playing with Staci was my first (time) too. Birdies were nice, but if only I could stop those three-putts so that the birdies counted more than they did.”

Lacognata birdied twice on the back nine, compared to one for Creech and none for Plourde, but five bogeys negated the under-par holes.

She lost her spot in the final grouping Wednesday when Jordan Laplume finished her second round strong. Birdies on the 15th and 16th holes were followed by lip-outs for near misses at birdie on the 17th and 18th.

“That gives me a lot of confidence for sure,” Laplume, from Old Orchard Beach, said. “I’ve never played in a final group before, so I am a little nervous for that, but if I play my own game then I should just be okay.”

Laplume said her caddie, twin brother Jacob, helped her turn around her putting. After multiple three-putts early, Laplume two-putted for her late birdies.

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“He gave me the perfect line, and I did the perfect speed, and it just dropped finally,” Laplume said.

Creech had her husband, University of Maine athletic director Karlton Creech, as her caddy through 15 holes Tuesday. In what was merely a coincidence, Creech bogeyed the last hole her husband caddied, then birdied the next. Karlton Creech’s day job then forced him to leave.

“I had him longer than I though I was going to. He was only going to caddie nine holes,” Creech said. “I’m ecstatic that I had him for that many holes. I didn’t even think he was going to be able to make it today.”

While the final group will again be a veteran in Creech and two junior players in Plourde and Laplume, the next-to-last group will look different Wednesday than it did Tuesday. Junior players Ruby Haylock and Erin Holmes were grouped with Laplume in that flight in the second round. For the final round, Lacognata will be matched up with veterans Kristin Kannegieser and Leslie Guenther.

Kannegieser shot a second-round 80 to grab hold of fifth place at 17-over 159. Guenther is two shots back after carding an 81, and she’s tied with Holmes (12-over 83) for sixth.

Haylock, from Turner Highlands, finished with an 88 and is alone in 10th at 24-over. Fox Ridge’s Stephanie Rodrigue is one shot back tied for 11th with a two-day 167. Turner Highlands members Heidi Haylock (second-round 86) and Prudence Hornberger (87) are tied for 13th at 26-over.

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Ruby Haylock chips onto the 14th green during the 2nd round of Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship Tuesday afternoon at Martindale Country Club in Auburn.

Ruby Haylock chips onto the 14th green during the 2nd round of Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship Tuesday afternoon at Martindale Country Club in Auburn.

Kristin Kannegieser chips onto the 14th green at her home course during the 2nd round of Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship Tuesday afternoon at Martindale Country Club in Auburn.

Kristin Kannegieser chips onto the 14th green at her home course during the 2nd round of Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship Tuesday afternoon at Martindale Country Club in Auburn.

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