FALMOUTH — Cole Anderson was looking for some comfort food after Wednesday’s second round of the Maine State Golf Association Amateur Championship.

“I need it. I just didn’t give myself much of a breather at all today,” said the 18-year-old from Camden.

But his grinding score of 1-under 69 at Portland Country Club did give him a comfy six-stroke lead over the field, effectively backing up his smooth opening round 65 to put him at 6 under for the tournament.

Anderson will be trying to complete his personal Maine Am progression. He was third in 2017 and second last year when he entered the final round one shot behind eventual winner Jack Wyman and finished the same way.

Wyman turned pro this spring.

Since that tournament, Anderson has won the 2018 MSGA Match Play tourney, graduated early from Camden Hills High, enrolled at Florida State University where he will play on scholarship next fall, and won an amateur tourney in Florida.

“The last year and a half I’ve been in quite a few final groups and held leads and I feel confident in my ability to get it home,” he said.

Williams College senior-to-be Will Kannegeiser of Minot, 10 shots back after his own 1-under 69, went a step further.

“It’s in the bag. Why? Because Cole’s the best golfer here and he plays like a professional and he’ll shoot even (par) or better tomorrow,” Kannegeiser said.

Three players are tied at even par: Reese McFarlane, 21, of Cape Elizabeth (Purpoodock Club); Jason Gall, 46, of Augusta (Portland Country Club); and Joe Alvarez, 39, of Biddeford (Webhannet Golf Club). McFarlane, the 2018 New England Amateur champion, is capable of going on a birdie binge. He had six on Wednesday but they were countered by five bogeys in a 1-under round of 69.

“I’ve gotta go low tomorrow. Just have to get rid of those bogeys,” McFarlane said.

Gall had the shot of the tournament when he made a hole-in-one on the short par-3 4th hole. That paved the way for a 2-under 68. Gall credited his son and caddy, Carson Gall, 14, for selecting the sand wedge.

“It bounced once and it dropped right in,” Gall said. It was the ninth career hole-in-one for Gall, his third at Portland CC, and his first in a competitive tournament. Gall’s best finish in the Maine Amateur is a tie for second in 2010.

Anderson, McFarlane and Gall will be in Thursday’s final group, with a 9:53 a.m. tee time.

Alvarez will be paired with Drew Powell of Holden (Penobscot Valley CC) who is 2 over and Brian Bilodeau of Auburn (Martindale CC) who is 3 over. Also 3 over are Joe Walp of Portland (Falmouth CC), Tim Desmarais of Saco (Riverside) and Zach Golojuch of Saco (Biddeford-Saco).

Alvarez, who shot an opening-round 68, cut Anderson’s lead to two shots when he birdied the fourth hole (his 13th of the day).

Meanwhile Anderson was approaching a fourth-shot chip on the difficult par-5 sixth hole.

Anderson was able to get up-and-down to save par, then birdied the par-3 seventh to go to 6 under for the tournament. Alvarez ended up 2 over after he took a double-bogey on the seventh when he hit his tee shot into the lake, and closed his round with a bogey.

Anderson kept grinding, especially on his penultimate hole when he had to roll in a lengthy par putt that elicited a hearty fist pump.

“I don’t get (emotional) like that normally but I really wanted to get it in under par,” Anderson said.

Forty-one golfers made the cut for Thursday’s final round by shooting 153 or better. Three-time winner Ricky Jones (151) is the only former champion to advance. Mark Plummer, the 67-year-old 13-time winner, finished at 154.


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