Saco’s Emily Bouchard aiming to keep Women’s Amateur golf title

Posted July 22, 2012, at 9:05 p.m.

MANCHESTER, Maine — Emily Bouchard of Saco is determined to win the first Maine Women’s Amateur golf title starting Monday at Augusta Country Club despite playing a limited number of rounds this year.

“I feel confident,” Bouchard said. “I didn’t play well at the New England [Women’s Golf Association] Championship [two weeks ago], and my confidence level went down, but I’ve built it back up over the last week.”

Bouchard won last year’s WMSGA Championship at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono by eight strokes.

She is focused on winning again, despite having played only about a dozen rounds at her home club of Biddeford-Saco Country Club in Saco and a handful or so of tournament rounds.

“I’ve been playing well the last few days,” she said, “and I plan on trying to win. I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you otherwise.”

This year’s tournament field will be slightly different than in years past as the Women’s Maine State Golf Association and the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association have combined their top tournaments into one all-encompassing event composed of three 18-hole rounds of medal play. The Maine State Golf Association is helping conduct the tournament.

A few more of the top women’s amateurs will be participating this year.

The field is made up of the top 96 entries based on handicap index, although one of the competitors, Whitney Hand of Bucksport, has withdrawn.

Starting times are generally based on the handicap index with the lowest handicaps playing together. Hand would have played in Monday’s first group off the first tee, but Bouchard — who has the lowest index of 2.5 — said she and Leslie Guenther of Norway Country Club will be playing as a twosome.

Groups are scheduled to go off the first and 10th tees Monday and Tuesday, with a re-pairing of players based on score for Wednesday’s final round.

Bouchard played a practice round at Augusta on Sunday.

“The course is in great shape, which is to be expected,” she said, since the Maine Open was held there a month ago.

“I expected thick rough,” Bouchard said. “It was thick in some places, but in most places you can get any iron on the ball. The course looks like it will play very fair.”

Bouchard likes Augusta Country Club, which plays to a par of 72 for the women.

“I think it fits my game well. It’s a Donald Ross design, like my home club of Biddeford-Saco,” she said. “It’s open, generally, and not long.”

She said the players will have to focus on the greens.

“All the strokes most affected will be on the green,” she said. “There are undulations, slopes and crowns.”

Bouchard’s biggest challengers most likely will be close by during the first two days.

Six-time WMSGA champ Pennie Cummings of Wayne, Kristin Kannegieser of Martindale Country Club in Auburn and Mary Brann of Brunswick Golf Club are all in the second group. All three plus Guenther have handicap indexes better than 6.

And Alice Hwang of PVCC, the NEWGA Championship junior winner, and Laurie Hyndman and Kathi O’Grady, both of the Woodlands Club in Falmouth, are in the third group.

Liz Coffin of Bangor Municipal and Micki Meggison of Sable Oaks Golf Club in South Portland are in the fourth group, and they account for all of the players with indexes better than 8.0.

Cummings tied for second last year, and Coffin was ninth, another of the eight who finished in the top 10 last year who are playing in this year’s event.

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