Recognize this guy, without the mustache? It’s Mark Plummer in 1976, three years after he won the first of his 13 Maine Amateur titles. Kennebec Journal file photo

Tuesday will mark the start of the 100th Maine State Golf Association Amateur Championship, being held this year at Portland Country Club for the 14th time. So it seems appropriate to look back at some of the memorable moments of Maine’s premier golfing event.

1918: Not much is known about the first Maine Amateur, according to Mike Doran of the MSGA. What is known is that the tournament used the match play format, which would continue until 1973 (and then return briefly from 2001-05). It was played at Augusta Country Club, and William F. Clapp defeated Ernest A. Randall in the final match.

1940: Ray Lebel, 17, beats Carl Bradbury at Augusta C.C. in the final match. Lebel, a Lewiston native, also won that year’s Maine Junior and high school championships. He will go on to win the 1942 Maine Amateur (the event wasn’t held in 1943 and 1944),  serve as a World War II naval fighter pilot, become a dentist, and then win three more Maine Amateurs (1958, 1961, 1965) and a total of 47 club championships in Maine before his death in 2009 at the age of 86.

1953-57: Dick Diversi of Waterville Country Club rules the tournament, winning five straight titles. In the next six years, he loses in the final match three times (twice to Lebel), before winning his sixth and final title in 1963.

1960 and 1962: High school phenom Jim Veno breaks up the Diversi-Lebel dominance, beating Lebel in the 1960 final and Diversi in 1962. In 1962, Veno also wins the Maine Open and the high school championship. He is still the only person to win all three titles in the same year.

1973: Enter Mark Plummer. Now known for his bushy strawberry-blond (now mostly white) mustache, his 13 Maine Amateur titles and his epic battle with Tiger Woods in the 1995 U.S. Amateur semifinals (Woods won 2-up), Plummer was 21 and a member of the University of Maine golf team when he won his first state amateur, beating Bruce Carter in the final match at Riverside Golf Course.

1983: Plummer has a big lead after the front nine in the final round at Rockland Golf Course. At the turn, he quaffs a beer and a shot, then promptly aces the par-3 10th hole. “I can’t deny it,” Plummer says now. He rolls to his fourth title.

1989: On paper, Plummer’s seventh win is significant because he beat Sean Gorgone, who had won in 1987 and 1988 and would also win in 1990 and 1991. For Plummer, it’s his most meaningful win for a different reason. “It was the first one I played in since I quit drinking (in 1988). That meant a lot to me. I proved to myself I could still do it.”

1998: Plummer enters the tournament as the two-time defending and 10-time champion. In the first round, he calls two penalties on himself because he believes his ball moved during a putting stroke. Neither playing partner sees an infraction. At the end of the final round, Plummer ends up tied with Eric Crouse. Crouse wins in a playoff.

1999: Ron Brown had won the first Maine Amateur he entered in 1975. At the age of 50, Brown cruises to his second title at his home course, The Woodlands Club. The second win gives Brown a lifetime exemption. This week, he will play in his 45th consecutive Maine Am – and he says his last – at the age of 70.

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At age 63, Jim Veno tied for the first-round lead in 2006 at what would be his final Maine Amateur. As a high schooler, Veno won the Maine Amateur in 1960 and 1962. Gordon Chibroski/Staff file photo

2006: Three lightning delays cause the first round to last more than 13 hours. But it rewards with a sweet bit of nostalgia. Veno, 63, who had spent most of the previous four decades as a professional, shoots a 71 for a share of the lead, reminding why he was considered by many the best golfer to ever come out of Maine. Shawn Warren, 21, a Marshall University player from Windham, goes on to win the tournament by six strokes. Less than a year later, Veno dies from a heart attack and Warren turns pro.

2006-18: Since Warren’s win in 2006, the Maine Amateur has been ruled by young men. Twelve of the 13 titles have gone to players 27 or under, including teenagers Ryan Gay (2008, 2010), Seth Sweet (2012) and Matt Hutchins (2016). Gay won a third title in 2011 at age 20. Only Ricky Jones has interrupted the trend, in 2013 at Augusta C.C. Jones, 41, holds off 20-year-old Tommy Stirling to win his third championship.


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