AUBURN, Maine — Jesse Speirs of Bangor opened the final day of the 90th Maine Amateur Golf Championship at Martindale Country Club with a three-stroke edge and held the lead throughout Friday.
His footlong birdie putt on the final hole secured a four-stroke victory over defending champion Ryan Gay of Pittston and five over two-time Amateur titlist Ricky Jones of Thomaston.
“I didn’t really think I had won it until I made that putt,” said the 22-year-old Speirs. “I didn’t really know where we were at [for scores].”
Speirs finished with an even-par 71 for a three-day total of 3-under 210. Gay, 18, posted a 72 for 214 and Jones shot the day’s best round, a 69, for 215.
Marc Siewertsen of Westbrook was fourth with 70 for 219, and tied for fifth at 220 were 13-time Amateur champ Mark Plummer (71) of Manchester, David Gushee (71) of Gorham and Scott Sirois (72) of Portland.
Speirs was happy to pull out the victory.
“There’s a lot of pressure to win your state amateur,” said Speirs, who had tied for second in 2006. “It’s nice to have finally won it.”
Speirs, Gay and Jones — all playing in the final group — matched scores for the first three holes Friday, but bogeys by Speirs and Gay on the fourth hole kicked off a series of ups and downs that narrowed the margin to two strokes after seven holes.
It was a brief moment, though, as Gay bogeyed the eighth while Speirs was picking up a birdie out of the bunker that doubled the margin.
It was never closer than three strokes after that.
“On the front nine I had some good chances,” said Gay, who just wasn’t able to convert them.
“I never missed so many 3- and 4-footers in my life,” he said. “My head was moving all over the place.”
Then it got worse.
“On the back, my driver went away,” said Gay, including on the 603-yard, par-5 12th. His tee shot sailed to the right and into the water hazard, leading to a bogey.
Jones birdied three of the final four holes on the front — Nos. 6, 7 and 9 — and made the turn at 4-under-par 31, making him even par for the tournament and tied with Gay for second.
It didn’t last long, though.
“The 11th hole made me fall out of the zone again,” said Jones with a little laugh.
He lipped out about a 2½-foot putt and made bogey, this after four-putting the hole during Thursday’s second round for a double bogey, including a lip-out.
Then Jones missed a par-saving putt on 12 for a second straight bogey.
“I hit both putts where I wanted,” said Jones. “At that point I figured it wasn’t my day.”
Speirs made it three of a kind on 12 when he also bogeyed it.
“That was my worst mistake all week,” he said of his approach shot that looked good initially on the long par-5, but it ran off the back of the green. “I hit it a little thin.”
Speirs parred out from there until his birdie on the final hole, closing the door on any other opportunities for his competitors to catch him.
The three solid rounds could be a good sign for Speirs’ golf future.
“It has to do with a little bit of maturity,” he said. “I came up with a pretty good game plan, stuck with it and it helped keep me calm.”