Alvarez blisters Bangor Golf Classic field by 6 shots for victory

Posted Aug. 21, 2011, at 6:20 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 21, 2011, at 9:14 p.m.
Joe Alvarez of Hampden watches his putt on the 13th hole Sunday during the final round of the Bangor Golf Classic at Bangor Municipal Golf Course. Alvarez shot a 1-over 72 Sunday to win by six strokes. Alvarez’s round followed a course record-tying 61 Saturday for a two-day total of 9-under-par 133.
Michael C. York/BDN
Joe Alvarez of Hampden watches his putt on the 13th hole Sunday during the final round of the Bangor Golf Classic at Bangor Municipal Golf Course. Alvarez shot a 1-over 72 Sunday to win by six strokes. Alvarez’s round followed a course record-tying 61 Saturday for a two-day total of 9-under-par 133.

BANGOR — It’s understandable that Joe Alvarez of Hampden didn’t expect to play the same way Sunday as he had Saturday in the second annual Bangor Golf Classic.

His 1-over-par 72 at Bangor Municipal Golf Course on Sunday was solid enough, but it was overshadowed by Saturday’s course record-tying 10-under-par 61 at Bangor Municipal Golf Course.

The two rounds gave him a 9-under-par 133 total, six strokes better than runner-up Kent Johnson of Carmel.

“I knew it would be very, very difficult to duplicate (the 61),” said Alvarez of his career-best round. “I was just trying to play steady and minimize my mistakes.”

Johnson posted two rounds below par, 70 on Saturday and 69 Sunday, to finish at 139.

Nate Davis of Palmyra and Todd Lee of Bangor tied for third at 144. Davis had rounds of 70 and 74, and Lee recorded a 72 each day for his 144.

John Johnson of Bangor won the B flight (handicaps 9-16) with a 149 after putting up rounds of 73 and 76.

Thomas Beal of Jonesport earned the title in the C flight (handicaps 17-up) with rounds of 78 Saturday and 80 Sunday for a 158 total.

Liz Coffin of Hampden defended her women’s crown when she followed her opening-round 74 with an 82 for 156.

Alvarez’s round Saturday tied the record set by Michael Welch of North Quincy, Mass., in the opening round of the 2007 Greater Bangor Open golf tournament.

“It was just one of those days where you put everything together,” said Alvarez, who previously won the 2008 Paul Bunyan Amateur Golf Tournament.

Alvarez said Saturday’s early-morning start also helped.

“The wind was the big difference. Saturday, there was no wind and the greens were soft,” stated Alvarez. “(Sunday) it was windy and a little firmer on the greens.”

For the late-morning tee time, it was also warmer and more humid.

He was hitting the greens Sunday, but he wasn’t leaving himself as many short putts as he did Saturday.

“The greens are one of this course’s biggest defenses,” he said. “You can have a lot of long putts, and it’s tough to get down in two.”

He birdied the first hole Sunday, starting the same way he did Saturday, but he bogeyed Nos. 3, 7 and 8 and made the turn at 2-over 37. He parred every hole on the back except No. 17, which he birdied with a 2-foot putt.

That was more like what he had been doing Saturday when he knocked a lot of approach shots to 12 feet or closer.

He started slowly Saturday after making a 15-foot putt for birdie on the first hole.

He parred the next two, missed a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 4 and then had to get up and down for par from a bunker on No. 5.

Then the good times, and the putts, started to roll.

Alvarez made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 6, knocked it close on 7 and made his third birdie, then dropped an 8-foot putt on No. 8 for his fourth birdie and third in a row.

After he said he “just missed a 12-foot birdie putt on 9,” he did make a 3-footer on 10 and an 11-footer on 11.

He narrowly missed birdie putts on 12 and 13, he said, and lipped one out on 14.

He did have a two-putt birdie on the par-5 15th, and that brought him to 16.

“I almost made ace there,” said Alvarez. “It ended up 3 feet behind the hole, and I birdied that one.”

He two-putted from 25 feet for par on 17, then arrived at the 18th hole at 8 under par. Another par would allow him to match the 9-under-par 63s he shot at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono and the Samoset Resort in Rockport within two weeks of each other in 2004.

But 18 is a short enough par-5 that birdies are often a possibility. It’s also possible to ruin a round by hitting out of bounds on the left.

“I hit driver right down the middle,” said Alvarez, who then hit his 7-iron approach shot up against the left-front collar 30 feet from the cup.

“And I made that for eagle,” said Alvarez, smiling.

“It was unbelievable,” said Len Cole, who played varsity golf at the University of Tennessee and who has played with and against a number of pros. “(The round) was just so smooth. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Alvarez hasn’t been reliving his round, wondering is he had should have done something differently.

“I got plenty out of my round,” he said, smiling again. “I don’t go back and say ‘what if.’”

He has been playing sporadically lately, with two young children — Jasmine, 2 1/2, and Joey, 8 months — at home.

“My wife (Wendy) gave me the OK (to play),” said the 31-year-old, and he made the most of it.

“Any time you can shoot a course record, it’s fun,” said Alvarez, “especially considering all the good players who have gone through here.”

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