MANCHESTER, Maine — After falling 11 strokes behind on opening day of the first Maine Women’s Amateur golf championship, Emily Bouchard of Saco wouldn’t have been faulted too much for thinking that she was out of it.
“If somebody had told me after Monday’s round that I was going to win by four, five, six shots, whatever it turned out to be, I don’t know if I’d believe it,” she said.
It took three days, but Bouchard finally did just that, firing a 1-under-par 71 at Augusta Country Club for a three-day total of 233 and an eight-stroke victory that left a pair of champions in her wake.
Second-round leader Leslie Guenther of Norway Country Club and first-round leader Pennie Cummings of Wayne each shot 83 to come in second and third, respectively. Guenther, the winner of the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association title last year, totaled 241 and Cummings, a six-time victor in WMSGA championships, finished at 242.
Mary Brandes of The Woodlands Club in Falmouth shot an 82 and moved into fourth at 249, followed by Micki Meggison of Sable Oaks in South Portland, who shot an 89 for 251.
Alice Hwang of Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono earned the Maine Women’s Amateur junior crown after shooting a 94 for a 265 total.
“It’s not a long course, but it’s demanding, and the greens are fast,” said Cummings. “And the pins were very challenging.”
It was that backdrop that Bouchard faced in her bid for a second straight championship win.
“I don’t want to say I counted myself out of it,” said Bouchard, who started four strokes behind Guenther and three behind Cummings, “but it was a tall test and I had a big hole to climb out of, a tough hill to climb and I did, so it’s really exciting.”
The Maine Women’s Amateur came about when the Women’s Maine State Golf Association and the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association combined their individual championships into one all-encompassing title.
Bouchard, who won the Women’s Maine State Golf Association Championship last year, rolled in a short eagle putt on the fourth hole Wednesday at Augusta Country Club to take the lead for the first time, then ran away to the lopsided victory.
Bouchard was gunning to be in red numbers (signifying being under par) in Wednesday’s round.
“I know I can shoot under par, and I know that’s a tall statement to say I wanted to be red today, but I wanted to be red today,” said Bouchard.
“My father and I talked about this. I need to be red. If I want to have any chance of winning this, I have to go red.”
So she pushed herself hard.
“I showed up and I was ready,” said Bouchard, who was playing in the group in front of the leaders. “I knew what I had to do and I knew I could do it. It was just a matter of making it happen.”
Guenther struggled right from her opening drive, which she pulled into the trees to the left of the fairway. She ended up making bogey, double bogeyed No. 2 and bogeyed No. 3. After she dropped two more strokes to Bouchard by making a par on No. 4 compared to Bouchard’s eagle, the handwriting was on the wall.
“I would never have been able to keep up,” said Guenther, who opened with a pair of 79s. “Even if I shot another 79, it still wouldn’t have been enough. Seventy-one deserves to win.”
Cummings, who shot a 74 the first day, could feel Wednesday that she didn’t have the game, first, to hold off Bouchard and, second, to catch her after Bouchard pulled ahead.
“The front side, I didn’t feel like I hit the ball well or putted well,” said Cummings, who was giving away more than 40 years to the big-hitting Bouchard, who is 22. “Overall, I was not particularly pleased, but that’s the game of golf.”
Bouchard birdied the first hole and made up two strokes right away on Guenther, who bogeyed it.
Cummings also made birdie there, but then she struggled, going 8 over par over the next six holes.
Meggison was scoring the best of the final threesome — which included Guenther and Cummings — over the first nine holes with five pars and four bogeys, but even that paled in comparison with Bouchard’s even-par 36.
After Bouchard’s eagle, she bogeyed Nos. 5 and 8 and parred the other three. That gave Bouchard a four-stroke lead at the turn, and she kept up her strong play on the back.
“When I got to the back nine, they relayed the [others’] scores to me,” said Bouchard. “I felt really confident. The only way I was going to lose it was if I lost it myself.”
She parred 10 and 11, and birdied 12 to get back under par for the day.
A double bogey on 14 put her over par for Wednesday, but only temporarily. Bouchard birdied the next two holes and parred the last two to close out the field.
“I don’t want to say it was one of the greatest comebacks, but in my life it is,” said the future air traffic controller.