Shannon Johnson of Massachusetts is the course leader with a score of 72 on Monday in the New England Women’s Golf Association Championship at The Woodlands Club in Falmouth. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald Photo)

FALMOUTH — Shannon Johnson came to her first New England Women’s Amateur golf championship with one intention: winning.

“Absolutely,” she said. “That’s the only reason why I entered.”

After shooting even-par 72 on Monday on the tight, tricky layout at The Woodlands Club, the 35-year-old Norton, Massachusetts, resident has the rest of the field chasing her.

Johnson’s playing partner, Hannah Ghelfi, 21, of Falmouth, Massachusetts (1-over 73), and Chelsea Sedlar of Merrimack, New Hampshire (4-over 76), are the only players within five strokes. The 54-hole tournament continues through Wednesday.

Johnson, a South Dakota native and 12-time champion in that state, is a distinguished amateur player. She made the semifinals the past two years (finalist in 2016) at the U.S. Mid-Amateur — the top tournament for players 25 and older. But The Woodlands course was basically an unknown, except for a charity event she played four years ago.

“As I was pulling in this morning I thought, ‘Hey, this does look familiar.’ But that was a scramble so it’s not the same,” said Johnson, a Boston-area sales rep for Ping golf. “It’s critical to be in the fairway. I only hit my driver twice. The course is playing short compared to what I’m used to playing.”

Erin Holmes, 19, of Gray (her family recently moved from Cumberland, where she attended Greely High), was the low scorer with a 79 among Maine golfers and is tied for sixth with two others. “Honestly, I’m really happy with my score,” said Holmes, coming off a freshman season at Bucknell where she played mostly at No. 3 or 4 in the varsity lineup. “I was hitting the ball well. There were three or four holes that killed me when I tried to do too much. I had some shots where I could have played safe and been fine, and I tried to do too much.”

The second-lowest score among Maine’s 26-player contingent came from 13-year-old Mia Hornberger of Turner at 84, two strokes behind the low junior (18 and under), Alessandra Lapple of Connecticut.

Other young Maine players had a harder time navigating the 5,676-yard course.

Rachel Smith, who will be a junior at Greely, and Mara Tiger, 20, of Brunswick, shot 13-over 85s. Elizabeth Lacognata, 18, of Scarborough was at 86. Two-time Maine women’s amateur runner-up Bailey Plourde, 18, of Newcastle, shot 87.

Plourde had a strong freshman season at Centre College in Kentucky, where she was named Newcomer of the Year in the Southern Athletic Association.

“I just have to forget about what happened today and move on. And get a couple of birdies,” Plourde said.

Tiger also plays in the SAA, at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. She entered as the low handicap from Maine, a tenth of a stroke better than Plourde. Two triple bogeys led to a 47 on the front nine. A former resident of Ocala, Florida, Tiger moved to Maine with her mother, Lea Tiger, and soon-to-be stepdad, James Bird, last summer. This is her first year competing in Maine amateur events.

“I want to finish in the top five. I’m going to have to get on that (Tuesday) and Wednesday,” Tiger said.

Lacognata, the 2017 Maine high school champion, recently committed to play at Rollins College, a Division II program in Florida. She helped herself with a birdie on the 18th.

“I was pulling some shots off the tee to start,” Lacognata said. “(The birdie) is a good way to end it for sure. It’s leaving me in a good mental state.”

Eight players broke 80. Alison Eleey and Sophie DiPetrillo, both of Massachusetts, are tied for fourth at 78. Holmes is joined at 79 by Nancy Diemoz of Rhode Island and Megan Buck of Massachusetts.

On Tuesday, groups will go off the first and 10th tees simultaneously, starting at 8:30 a.m. The leaders will go out last at approximately 11 a.m.

Ghelfi, the runner-up in 2017, said it’s possible to go under par on the layout that puts a premium on shot placement.

“There are a lot of short irons into the green. You just have to make some putts,” Ghelfi said.

Erin Holmes watches a putt on the green of the 11th hole while competing in the New England Women’s Golf Association Championship at The Woodlands Club in Falmouth on Monday. Holmes shot a 79, the best score of Maine women competing on Monday. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald Photo)


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