April 26, 2018
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Teen vying for lead after first round

Bangor Daily News | BDN
Bangor Daily News | BDN
Photo by Dave Barber

BAR HARBOR — At age 15, Seth Sweet of Madison tries to be both relaxed and focused on the golf course.
Both traits served him well in Tuesday’s opening round of the Maine Amateur Golf Championship at Kebo Valley Golf Club.
Sweet posted a 2-under-par 68 and trails leader Jason Gall of Augusta by a stroke.
Johnny Hayes IV of Cape Elizabeth is third at even-par 70 and six players, led by two-time Amateur winner Ricky Jones of Thomaston, are at 71. The others are Tom Chard and Matt Greenleaf of Portland, Chris Hamel of Waterville, Scott Stone of North Yarmouth and Brian Bilodeau of Minot.
Ryan Gay of Pittston, Maine Amateur titlist two years ago and runner-up last year, heads up another large contingent at 72.
Thirteen-time Maine Amateur champ Mark Plummer of Manchester had to withdraw, reportedly due to the effects of a bleeding ulcer.
The cut after today’s second round is to the low 40 and ties for Thursday’s 18-hole finale.
Sweet’s standing is quite an improvement for someone who first played in the Maine Amateur in 2007 as a 12-year-old.
“I was 22nd last year, 40th two years ago, and the year before that, I didn’t make the cut,” said Sweet.
The most noticeable element of Sweet’s game, even by him, is his focus — his ability to pay attention only to what’s in front of him.
“He’s like a horse with blinders on,” said Zack Sweet, his older brother.
Seth admits that it’s an accurate description.
“Pretty much. I stay by myself most of the time,” said Seth.
Sweet said he has been playing well lately, and there is one key factor, putting.
“It’s really taking off,” he said.
“I had four birdies and only one [of the putts] was close, the rest were 15 to 20 feet,” he added. “I felt like I was putting into a bushel basket.”
What makes putting easier is when a competitor is generally putting uphill, because downhill putts, and chips, tend to run long, very long in some cases. There were even some five-putts.
“The greens were running about 9½ on the stimpmeter,” said Nancy Storey, executive director of the Maine State Golf Association, which is conducting the tournament. “That’s on flat putts. The problem is there aren’t very many of those out here.”
And that makes position on the course important.
“You have to know where to hit, where to leave yourself,” said Sweet. “I think I did a pretty good job of that.”
He birdied No. 2 and No. 4 to get out of the chute fast. He bogeyed No. 6, a difficult par 3; birdied No. 7 and bogeyed No. 8 and then made the turn at 1 under.
“I birdied [No.] 12 and parred the rest, so I was solid,” said Sweet.
Gall birdied his first hole and added another on No. 5, but bogeyed No. 8 and then also made the turn at 1 under. He birdied 10 and 11, bogeyed 12, birdied 13 and parred out for 67.
 Hayes started slow with bogeys on the first two holes, but he birdied Nos. 3 and 5 to get back to even, then bogeyed 6 and 9 to turn 2 over. A bogey on 13 put him 3 over, then he finished with a flourish — birdies on three of the last five holes.
 Jones started OK, but he failed to capitalize on the back.
 “I was even on the front, and I was thinking I would make all kinds of birdies on the back, but it didn’t happen,” said Jones. “I just didn’t feel comfortable over the ball.”
 Gay was pretty blunt about his round.
 “I played poorly, I hit a lot [of approaches] on the wrong side [of the green] and I putted really badly,” he said. “I worked it out on the putting green, hopefully.”

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