MANCHESTER, Maine — Michael Carbone of Brewster, Mass., will defend his Maine Open Golf Championship at a different venue this year than the one where he won a three-player playoff.
Carbone, who earned $9,000 for his victory, goes off in the first group at 7:30 a.m. on the first tee at Augusta Country Club as part of a threesome that includes one of the players he defeated on the first hole of the sudden-death playoff at Falmouth Country Club, Maine pro John Hickson of Topsham.
Hickson is one of the other seven past winners of the Maine Open who are playing in this year’s 36-hole tournament. Hickson won in 2008 at Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn.
The other competitor in the 2011 playoff, Shawn Warren of Windham, will be able to keep a close eye on the other two as he plays in the second group. Warren is also a former Maine Open winner, having taken the title in a three-hole playoff in 2004 as an amateur.
As of Thursday, the 156-player field is made up of 95 pros, including 19 from Maine, and 61 amateurs. This year’s event kicked off with a pro-am Monday that is the biggest fundraiser for the Maine State Golf Association Scholarship Fund.
The MSGA conducts the tournament, which is sponsored by Charlie’s Motor Mall in Augusta.
Other past Maine Open winners included in this year’s tourney are pros Dustin Cone (2010) of Jensen Beach, Fla.; Kyle Gallo (1999) of Kensington, Conn.; Jerry DiPhilippo (1995) of Gorham and Don Robertson (1981) of Irving, Texas, and amateur Ricky Jones (2006) of Thomaston.
The third member of Carbone’s group, Ryan Gay of Pittston, won’t be taking a backseat to his playing partners. He is the two-time defending champion of the Maine Amateur and he’s playing on his home course.
Other contenders include Beon Yeong Lee of Cote-St-Luc, Quebec, who was the the first-round co-leader with Warren last year, and top-10 finishers Andrew Broderick of Plymouth, Mass., and Abbie Valentine of Bayville, N.Y., plus Eric Egloff of Sandy Spring, Md., and Jeff Seavey of Homosassa, Fla., a teaching pro at Samoset Resort Golf Course in Rockport and the two-time defending champion of the State of Maine Championship.
Jason Gall of Augusta was the low amateur last year, edging Jones and Gay by a stroke. He is also an Augusta Country Club member, as is 13-time Maine Amateur winner Mark Plummer of Manchester.
Plummer struggled at Falmouth in 2011, but he is always a threat to shoot low at Augusta. He won the Amateur there twice, in 1994 and 2001.
The last time the Open was held at Augusta was 1960. It was won by Bill Ezinicki, a former NHL player with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers who became a golf pro after retiring from the NHL.