BAR HARBOR — Ryan Gay of Pittston acts like he never hits a good shot.
Despite displaying dissatisfaction with a number of shots, Gay made four birdies on the back nine and cruised into a one-stroke lead after Wednesday’s second round of the Maine Amateur Golf Championship at Kebo Valley Golf Club.
Gay tied the day’s best round, a 2-under-par 68, for a two-day total of even-par 140.
Tuesday’s opening-round leader, Jason Gall of Augusta, and Seth Sweet of Madison share second at 141 after rounds of 74 and 73, respectively.
Matt Greenleaf of Portland is fourth at 143 after shooting a 72 Wednesday, and Joe Alvarez (69) of Hampden, Ricky Jones (73) of Thomaston and David Gushee (68) of Gorham are tied for fifth at 144.
The field of 129 players was cut to the low 40 and ties (153) for today’s 18-hole finish.
Gay, the 2008 Maine Amateur champ, was a little surprised to be in the lead but he also knew why it was possible.
“I knew the course was playing a lot tougher today,” said Gay.
His goal hadn’t necessarily been to grab the lead.
“I just needed to be under par,” he said, “so I could be close to the lead.”
Instead, he leapfrogged nearly a dozen players in front of him.
The way it started, Gay’s round didn’t appear it would be anything special.
“I started with seven straight pars,” he said.
He finished his front nine with a flourish, but not in a good way.
“I was 20 right of the green on [No.] 8 and made bogey,” said Gay, “and I was left of the green on 9 and made bogey there.”
The second nine was where he shined.
After making par on 10, he birdied 11 and 12, just missed an eagle putt on 14 and tapped in for his third birdie. His birdie attempt from the left collar on 17 hung on the high-side lip but refused to fall. He finished by draining an 18-foot uphill putt for birdie on 18 and the outright lead.
“I hit it firm and played less break,” Gay said of the final putt.
Gay had practiced his putting after Tuesday’s round, and he saw improvement Wednesday.
“I hit the longer putts a lot better. I got them on line better,” he said.
He hopes he can do it one more time.
“I want to go out and play a good round, be patient and hopefully do as well as today,” Gay said.
Gall was relieved to still be in contention.
“I struggled big-time,” he said. “I’m happy with 74 with all the shenanigans [that happened]. I had a couple of shanks, a couple of hooks.”
One of the hooks led to a double-bogey 6 on No. 3 when he hit a shot out of bounds.
“After the third hole, I thought I was going to shoot 85,” he said with a smile.
He started fine, making birdie on the first hole, then he bogeyed No. 2, double-bogeyed 3 and bogeyed 4 before making his second birdie, on No. 5. He then posted bogey, birdie, bogey on the next three holes before making his first par on 9.
“We caught some serious wind out there on 8, 9 and 10,” said Gall. “And then it died back down.”
He bogeyed 10, made two pars, bogeyed 13, made two more pars, birdied 16 and parred the last two.
“I’m glad that’s over,” he said, smiling again.
He feels ready for today’s title run.
“I think I fixed my swing enough on the back nine to go out tomorrow [and play well],” Gall said.
Sweet admitted to feeling a little pressure Wednesday with media following him at the beginning.
“I got used to it after the first couple of holes,” said the 15-year-old.
His round started the same as Gay’s, seven pars. He bogeyed 8 and double-bogeyed 9. He parred the first five on the back nine, bogeyed 15, parred the next two and finally knocked in his first birdie putt on 18.
“I wasn’t putting as well as [Tuesday]. They were close, but they weren’t going in,” he said.