MANCHESTER, Maine — Dustin Cone of Jensen Beach, Fla., wasn’t sure what to expect when he arrived Monday for the Maine Open Golf Championship pro-am.
“I’ve never been to Augusta before,” said the Bennington, Vt., native. “I’ve never been this far north before [in Maine].”
What he discovered was an old-style golf course that he said was in excellent shape.
“Whoever said it was right. If this course was 1,000 yards longer, they could hold [PGA] Tour events on it.”
The Maine Open, sponsored by Charlie’s Motor Mall, was enough for Cone. He tapped in a 2-foot par putt on the first playoff hole Wednesday to win his second Maine Open title in three years.
Cone bested Jim Lytle of West Palm Beach, Fla., after they finished tied at 3-under-par 137 for two rounds at Augusta Country Club.
Lytle shot the day’s best round Wednesday after he birdied the final three holes of regulation to post a 6-under-par 64 on the deceptively challenging 6,214-yard course.
“There are so many different ways to play this course,” said Cone. “I betcha a lot of guys left here thinking how much better they could have been if they had played it differently.”
Cone, playing later in the day after his opening-round 71 Tuesday, finished with a 66 for his 137.
In the playoff, Lytle had a downhill 25-foot putt for birdie after they both reached the green on the 353-yard, par-4 first hole in two, while Cone had a 10-footer on a similar line.
Lytle’s first putt missed on the right side of the cup and ran 4 feet past.
Cone saw what Lytle’s putt did and tried to play his putt a little more to the left. It still slid by on the right, but it only went 2 feet by.
Lytle’s par attempt rolled past the cup on the same side he had just missed, and he tapped in for bogey.
Then Cone, who won in 2010 at Riverside Municipal Golf Course in Portland, collected his second trophy by dropping the 2-footer. He also earned a check for $9,000.
“You don’t expect guys to miss like that, but it happens,” said the 29-year-old Cone. “You just take advantage and leave.”
John Elliott of Westerly, R.I., Jason Parajeckas of Woburn, Mass., and Kevin Roy of Syracuse, N.Y., tied for third at 138. Elliott also shot a 66, Parajeckas recorded a second straight 69 and Roy, one of the three co-leaders after the first round, shot a 70.
Beon Yeong Lee of Cote St. Luc, Quebec, was the only other player to finish under par as he shot a 69 for 139.
Cone thought a lot of the big hitters probably were drooling over what looked like driveable par-4s based on the scorecard yardages.
What they discovered was that keeping the ball in the fairway was going to be more important and a strong short-game and good putting on the quick and often tiered greens would be the keys.
That fit right into Cone’s game. He said he hit driver only once and that was on the long, downhill par-5 18th Wednesday.
“You can hit 4-iron up to driver [off the tee],” he said. “It’s whatever you’re comfortable hitting [next] into the green.”
Cone was more comfortable staying out of trouble.
“It’s better for me to lay back 20 yards and hit a safe shot in than hit driver and be in the rough ‘cause the rough was really penal this week,” he said.
“For me to hit it in the fairway and knock it on the green, that’s where I make up my strokes,” he added.
Cone started the day three strokes behind the leaders — Roy, Jesse Larson of Mendon, Vt., and Jeremiah Shields of Ottawa, Ontario. He played the front even, but racked up birdies on 11, 12, 14 and 15 to get to 4 under for the day, 3 under for the tourney.
“I had an 8-footer on 17 and a 10-footer on 18 [for birdies] and missed them both,” said Cone. “I thought I would have to get lucky to get into a playoff and, fortunately, I did.”
Roy still had a chance to also get into the playoff. All he needed was a birdie on any one of the last three holes.
“I had an opportunity on all three, but I couldn’t convert any of them,” said the 22-year-old Roy, who has been a pro for all of two weeks now.
Roy did get to 3 under briefly when he birdied the 458-yard par-4 13th, but he bogeyed the next hole after being in front of the green in two. His approach shot had been on the green, but it spun back from the top tier to the bottom and rolled right off the green. His putt didn’t get quite back to the pin and rolled back down to the lower tier. Two more putts gave him a bogey. He parred out from there.
“It would be great to be going down that fairway, too, [in the playoff] but I can’t complain with a third-place finish,” Roy said.
Jeff Seavey of Homosassa, Fla., and a teaching pro at Samoset Resort in Rockport, was the low Maine pro with 71 for a 144 total.
Among the amateurs, Jack Wyman of Freeport and Colin Brennan of North Andover, Mass., tied for low honors at 143. Brennan shot a 69 Wednesday, while Wyman had a 74.