BATH, Maine — It would’ve been easy for Kristin Kannegieser to become frustrated and wilt under the hot sun after bogeying five of her first seven holes Tuesday.
But the Auburn golfer heated up on the back nine at Bath Country Club, carding a 2-over-par 36 en route to a 7-over 77 and taking a two-shot lead in the 80th WMSGA Championship.
The X-factor on Kannegieser’s front-nine performance, in which she shot 41, was that she didn’t take any scores over bogey.
“I didn’t take any real high numbers, which was good,” said Kannegieser, whose two-day total of 151 leads first-round leader Mary Brandes of the Woodlands Club of Falmouth by two shots (153) entering today’s final round.
Brandes carded an 81, but was done in by a pair of double-bogeys and a triple, while Leslie Guenther of Norway CC also shot an 81. Debby Gardner of Belgrade Lakes GC shot a 78, and is tied with Guenther at 158.
Jennifer Weiland of Bangor Municipal GC was the other player to break 80 on the afternoon, shooting 79 for a two-day total of 161.
Kathi O’Gradi of Sable Oaks of South Portland shot 83 (167) while Bucksport’s Whitney Hand fired her second straight 84 (168).
Kannegieser got rolling on the short par-4 10th, when she knocked her approach within eight feet of the cup and drained the short birdie putt, and nailed her tee shot to the same distance on the par-3 11th, two-putting for a par, the first of five straight pars, some of which could’ve been birdies.
“I didn’t make the next three short birdie putts in a row, looking at the score I wish I had them,” Kannegieser said.
Kannegieser was very consistent off the tee, especially on the back nine, hitting fairways with the exception of the par-4 18th, where she drove it in the right rough.
That was a contrast to the front side, during which she couldn’t piece a solid hole together.
“Either I hit a good drive and not a good approach, and even when I did [hit greens], I missed putts,” Kannegieser said.
Brandes, who started the day up two shots over Kannegieser and five over Guenther, struggled when she sliced her approach to the par-4 second hole out of bounds and took a triple-bogey 7.
Brandes later hit her tee shot in the water on the par-5 eighth en route to a double-bogey while recording four bogeys and a double on the first six holes of the back nine, which she attributed to inconsistency off the tee.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t hitting my driver well today,” she said.
But she turned it around with pars on the final three holes, which Kannegieser bogeyed, putting herself in position to make a move in today’s finale.
“I can play well if I just keep my driver in the fairways,” Brandes said. “If I keep driving it into the rough, I will be taking a lot of bogeys.”
Guenther was a model of consistency for a while, playing the front nine in a solid 39 before an eight on the par-3 16th dropped her back a bit.
She hit two tee shots out of bounds over the back left side of the green, but she rebounded to par the final two holes.
Kannegieser feels its still anybody’s tournament to win.
“Two shots over Mary’s nothing, and Deb Gardner, she can play, and Leslie can, too,” she said. “I would not lose sight of [Leslie] tomorrow at all. She really could come back and get us.”
Compared to Monday’s opening round, the greens were a lot quicker while the winds remained somewhat gusty.
“I think the course played a little bit more harder today,” Brandes said. “I was sticking the pins [Monday], but the ball wasn’t moving. Today, the greens were rolling a little bit. I got a few up there that rolled pretty far away [from the hole].”
Kannegieser, Brandes and Gardner will tee off at 10:30 a.m. today while Guenther will be one group ahead, starting at 10:21.