May 28, 2018
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Bouchard retains lead as drier conditions affect play in state women’s championship

By Joel Neill, Special to the BDN

ORONO — Players in the 81st annual WMSGA Championship at Penobscot Valley Country Club faced the course’s thick rough and, after a rainy morning, relatively slow greens in Monday’s opening round.

But in Tuesday’s second round, it was quite the opposite. With a hot sun and temperatures hovering around 80, PVCC’s greens dried up and became faster, resulting in higher scoring.

“The greens, compared to yesterday, were like night and day, and I didn’t putt as well,” Monday’s opening-round leader Emily Bouchard of Saco said. “It’s obviously much drier today with the sun beating down, and that was definitely a challenge.”

Although the greens and a few tee shots gave her some difficulty, Bouchard was able to hold her opening-round lead with a 78 in the second round for a two-day total of 2-under par 144, five shots ahead of 17-year-old Karli Soracco of Turner, who also shot a second-round 78 for a two-day total of 149.

Ann Probert of Waterville, who was paired up with Bouchard and Soracco on Tuesday, matched her opening-score of 75 for a total of 150, and is in third. Pennie Cummings of Wayne is fourth with a 157, last year’s winner Kristin Kannegieser of Martindale Country Club in Auburn is fifth with 159, Leslie Guenther of Norway Country Club and Susan Gilpatrick-Smart of Webhannet Golf Club in Kennebunk are tied in sixth with 160 each, and Bucksport’s Whitney Hand is eighth with 164.

Tuesday proved to be a tougher day for Bouchard, who posted an outstanding 7-under 66 on Monday. She struggled off the tee at times and was robbed of some crucial putts, but she made key pars when she needed them.

After shooting a 3-over 39 on the front, Bouchard birdied the 10th hole, starting the back nine the same way she did on Monday. She then bogeyed 11 and 12, and parred 13 before bogeying again on 14. On the par-5 15th hole — a sharp dogleg-right — Bouchard was able to cut the corner with her drive and make par after a scuffed second shot out of the thick rough.

She finished off her second round with three pars to get to 3-over for the day and 2-under for the tournament.

“Today I pulled it, pushed it, left it short, hit it long and I just didn’t hit the ball as well as I did yesterday,” said the 22-year-old Bouchard. “I doubled eight, and I don’t want to say it took me out of the day but my mindset changed a little, so I just needed to get one back here and there to rebound.”

Soracco also hit the turn with a 3-over 39, but came into her own at points on the back nine and shot 37 to tie Bouchard’s second-round 78. On the short par-4 17th hole Soracco’s drive scooted up the middle of the approach and onto the green, and she sunk a 12-foot putt for eagle.

“Today was definitely a battle with the greens for everyone I think. I missed a few short putts that I could’ve got a couple strokes back with,” Soracco said. “I just need to stay calm and focused to prepare for tomorrow.”

Probert turned in the low score on the day with a 75. After bogeying the first hole, she made three straight pars and a birdie, and ended the front nine with another birdie for a front-nine 37.

Probert then parred holes 10 through 17, and bogeyed 18 to head into the clubhouse with her two-day total of 150.

Probert also said that the speedy greens played a factor in her game.

Bouchard, who acknowledged that her round on Monday was a career-round and that she didn’t expect to repeat her score, said she’d like to forget about Tuesday’s round and focus on Wednesday.

“My father and I discussed that we’d like to grind into the high 60s or low 70s today if we had a chance at it. It wasn’t completely disappointing, but at the same time I’d wish I played better, so I’d like to put this behind me and get some rest and re-energize for tomorrow,” she said.

With the three lowest totals, Bouchard, Soracco and Probert will be paired up again in the final round and will tee off at 11 a.m.

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