June 21, 2018
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Aroostook County golfer, Bangor teen share thrill of making Maine Amateur cut

By Pete Warner, BDN Staff

MANCHESTER, Maine — Ralph Michaud was in a bit of a quandary on Wednesday.

Having earned a spot in the final round of the Maine Amateur Championship for the first time, the Presque Isle golfer needed to make an unscheduled purchase.

“I had to go buy new socks and stuff. I didn’t pack enough for making the cut,” joked Michaud, who shot a 3-over 73 for the second straight day to come in at 146 and qualify for the field of 46 players in the final round.

“It’s just a great feeling,” said Michaud, who plays at both Aroostook Valley Country Club in Fort Fairfield/Four Falls, New Brunswick, and at Presque Isle Country Club.

“This is my first time making the cut. That’s pretty cool. That takes away the qualifying next year,” he said of the exemption earned by players in the final round.

Michaud, who posted two birdies and five bogeys in Wednesday’s round, had never played Augusta Country Club before a practice round on Monday. However, it seems to suit his game just fine, as it is comparable to Aroostook Valley.

“It’s not long, you have a lot of elevation changes and the greens are fast,” Michaud said. “Maybe that’s why I played well, it reminds me a lot of home.”

He made the trip to the Maine Amateur with one of his friends from Aroostook Valley, Steve Clark, although the two did not play together in this tournament.

He said making the Maine Amateur cut ranks second only to his previous participation in national championship tournaments featuring club pros from across Canada, since Aroostook Valley is affiliated with the Canadian Professional Golfers’ Association and not the USGA.

Michaud is gearing up for his 30th year as a physical education teacher. He is also a longtime assistant basketball coach and girls soccer coach at Presque Isle High School.

However, he says that in golf, there is no one to share the pressure of competition.

“It’s so different being a team-sport person and coach,” Michaud said. “There’s no one to help you. You’re out there on your own.”

Michaud also is proud to have made some sort of a statement for the over-50 crowd (he is 52).

Powell, 15, makes cut

On the other end of the spectrum at the Maine Amateur is Drew Powell.

The Bangor golfer, who recently turned 15, has showed off his considerable skills while advancing to Thursday’s final round at Augusta Country Club in his first appearance at the event.

Powell, who will be a sophomore at Bangor High School, tied for 34th place in the 132-man field by shooting a two-day total of 150. He matched Tuesday’s 75 with another on Wednesday, a round that included three birdies, four bogeys and two double bogeys.

“My goal was to contend and to win. That’s always my goal,” said Powell, whose home course is Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono.

He has enjoyed the experience thus far, but has enough competitive golf experience that he was by no means overwhelmed.

“It’s not nerve-wracking at all, it’s fun,” Powell said after Wednesday’s round. “It’s an honor to play with the best amateurs in the state.”

Despite his small frame, Powell seems to pack plenty of punch with the golf clubs, especially off the tee. His play and demeanor caught the attention of Michaud, who played in a threesome with Powell and Chris Cloutier each of the first two days.

“I think he’s going to be the next star in Maine golf, no question,” Michaud said. “I play with a lot of young kids, but his swing, I could watch it all day.”

Powell, who as a freshman finished 11th at the Maine high school individual state championships held at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro, wasn’t overly thrilled with Wednesday’s effort.

“The whole day the short clubs were giving me some trouble, the short irons and the wedges, but I hit the drives pretty well, much better than [Tuesday],” he said.

Last month, Powell narrowly missed qualifying for the USGA Junior Amateur Championship during a qualifier in Massachusetts.

On Tuesday, Powell had his drive on the fourth hole plug in the wet ground. It could not be found and he was forced to go back and hit another ball off the tee.

Powell eventually three-putted and scored an 8 on the hole.

“I was kind of in shock and I wasn’t in sync, but after that I put it behind me and made some birdies,” Powell said.

Michaud said Powell demonstrated that he already has learned some key mental aspects of the game.

“He was 1 under when he made that 8 and it’s very easy to have the wheels come off,” Michaud said. “He seemed to get his focus back and didn’t get too upset.

“I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in the future,” Michaud added.

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