Maine Junior Championship Round 1 Recap
CUMBERLAND – On a day where thermometers at Val Halla Golf Course were going as high as they ever do here in Maine, the players in the 2019 Maine Junior Championship were going low in today’s first round. Leading the way was Natanis GC member Conner Paine of South China, who shot a scorching 68 (-4) to lead after day one.
Paine, 18, and a recent graduate of Erskine Academy, holds the first round lead in the 16-18-year old boy’s division. He holds a one stroke lead over Thomas Higgins of South Portland, who also took it low today with a round of 69 (-3). Higgins, 17, has been close before in this championship before, having lost in a playoff to eventual champion Lucas Roop in 2017. He’ll look to break through tomorrow in what’s forecast to be another hot, muggy day.
Paine and Higgins will be joined in the final pairing tomorrow by Caleb Manuel of Topsham, who is coming off a great summer of golf. The rising senior at Mt. Ararat finished T-5 at the recent Maine Amateur Championship at Portland CC and a T-10 finish at the New England Amateur Championship in Vermont last week. He also qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur and competed at Inverness Club in Ohio last month. Manuel opened with an even-par 72 on day one.
On the girls’ side in the 16-18 flight, defending champion Rachel Smith from the host club sits tied with Ruby Haylock of Hartford and Turner Highlands CC. Both players shot 81 and will sleep on the overnight lead in a tie. Smith had the lead after nine holes, but Haylock made par on all nine holes on the back to make things interesting going into tomorrow.
In the boys’ 13-15 flight, last year’s winner of this flight Bennett Berg leads by 7 over Alden Griffiths going into tomorrow’s final round. Berg was +5 through his first 11 holes, but rallied with five birdies over his last seven holes to shoot an impressive even-par 72.
In the girls’ 13-15 flight, Mia Hornberger shot 79 to take a 10 shot lead over fellow Turner Highlands CC member Morhan Duthil who shot 89.
Lastly, the Junior Championship also features a division for golfers aged 12 and under that only play nine holes each day. Playing on Val Halla’s second nine, home club member Sebastien Martinez raced out to an opening 40 to open a two-shot lead over Jack Quinn, who carded 42.
Tomorrow’s second round will commence at 7:00 am.