Golfers walk the course before the play was suspended due to rain on the opening day of the New England Amateur golf tournament Tuesday at Portland Country Club in Falmouth. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald Photo)

FALMOUTH — Eric Bleile was putting for birdie on the 17th green when he got the word.

Stop play.

“Pretty disruptive,” Bleile said, “but it’s Mother Nature. Not much you can do about it.”

The 89th New England Amateur Championship at the Portland Country Club got off to a stormy start Tuesday with the first round interrupted by thunderstorms.

Play was eventually suspended for the day, to be made up Wednesday. The second round will begin Wednesday and finish Thursday morning.

After the cut, the final round Thursday will be reduced from 36 to 18 holes – making it a 54-hole tournament instead of the planned 72.

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When play was halted at 12:38 p.m., only 12 golfers had finished. Ryan Pelletier of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and Drake Hull of Rutland, Vermont, were atop the leaderboard at 3-under-par. Pelletier had finished 16 holes, Hull 12 holes.

The leader in the clubhouse is Uttdom Sowinkong of Wallingford, Connecticut, at 2-under 68.

Brian Bilodeau of Auburn leads the Maine charge, at 1-under through 15 holes.

Jack Wyman, the two-time defending Maine Amateur champion from South Freeport, is even-par through 12 holes.

Bleile, a Wiscasset native now living in Weston, Connecticut, was at 3-over – with hopes for a birdie.

“Would have been nice to be done, but this is going to affect everyone,” he said.

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Half of the field never teed off, leaving them with plenty of golf to play on Wednesday.

“It means I’m going to be a tired puppy (Wednesday) night,” said Mark Plummer of Manchester. He was scheduled to tee off Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. but, instead, sat around the clubhouse, awaiting updates. He knows what’s ahead.

“We’ll start at 7:30 (a.m.) instead of 8 and just keep playing,” said Plummer, who won the New England Amateur in 1994 on this course.

And if he makes the cut, Plummer will keep playing.

“We’ll see if this 66-year-old body can handle it,” Plummer said. “I’ll worry about that if it comes.”

Plummer has won this tournament twice – taking the 1979 title in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Plummer and Sean Gorgone (1991) are the only Mainers to win the tournament since it went to stroke play in 1971.

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In the past six years, only nine men from Maine have made the cut.

Wyman is favored to be Maine’s best hope to be playing on Thursday afternoon. It was last Thursday that he completed a three-round, 6-under 207 at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club for his second Maine Amateur title.

On Tuesday, Wyman stayed close to the leaders.

“I’ve played really well but I can’t get the putter going,” he said. “Hopefully these last six holes (of the first round) I can find something.

“I’m even par, so I’m right in the thick of it. Hopefully, I can get a birdie or two coming in and I’ll be right there.”

Of course, Wyman must wait to finish his round, like most everyone else.

“It’s obviously different,” he said. “You just have to regroup and reset to stay focused.”

Jack Wyman tees off on the 3rd hole during the New England Amateur golf tournament Tuesday at Portland Country Club in Falmouth. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald Photo)Jack Wyman hits out of a bunker on the 2nd green during the New England Amateur golf tournament Tuesday at Portland Country Club in Falmouth. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald Photo)

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