Bangor teenager shares lead after first round of Maine Amateur Golf Championship

Posted July 08, 2014, at 8:51 p.m.

FALMOUTH — Two young golfers — perhaps too young to overanalyze the accomplishment — subdued Goliath Woodlands Club on the opening day of the 95th Maine Amateur.

Well, not exactly subdued. Let’s say they made the monster break a sweat, at least.

Drew Powell, 16, of Bangor, and Joe Walp, 20, of Portland, each shot 2-under 70 to share the lead Tuesday.

Portland’s Matt Greenleaf is third at 1-under 71. Joe Baker of Norway, Andrew Slattery of West Minot and Keith Patterson II of Saco are knotted at 72.

Powell, who recently completed his sophomore year at Bangor High School, sank birdies at holes 6, 10, 13 and 14.

“I made one bomb. It was a 45-footer at six. It was cruising. The other ones were relatively close range,” Powell said. “I stayed patient. I hit it in the fairway, I hit it on the green and two-putted. If I had a birdie putt, I made it. I just put it in the middle of the green and went from there.”

Walp, on break from Division I Bryant University in Rhode Island, birdied three of the first four holes and then 11, 12 and 13 in succession. Bogey at 18 cost him the outright lead.

“A lot of birdies, a lot of bogeys — it was up and down,” Walp said. “On four I made a pretty long putt. I didn’t expect that. I thought it was going to go six feet by, and I banged it in. Nothing really turned it around, just kind of solid all day.”

Greenleaf, 32, defeated Walp in the final to win the 2013 Maine State Golf Association match play championship at Auburn’s Fox Ridge.

The Woodlands is a similarly long, demanding course that plays to Greenleaf’s strengths. A junior club champion here in the late 1990s, Greenleaf sank six birdies, all but one from beyond 15 feet.

His mantra, like the younger players with whom he shares the leader board, was don’t do anything stupid.

“Keeping it in play is important here. The golf course is playing long, but I didn’t hit driver once,” Greenleaf said. “Three-woods off the tee, and the longest iron into a green was a 6-iron into 4. If I can keep clubs 6-iron and in into these greens, it’s going to turn out well.”

Greenleaf birdied 3, 4, 9, 12, 16 and 18. His putt on the 380-yard, par-4 ninth salvaged even par on the front nine after a bogey at six and a double-bogey out of a bunker on eight.

“That kind of kept the momentum going a little bit,” Greenleaf said. “You just try to keep a decent score today. It’s the first day. Just try to keep it in play and not make anything big.”

Nobody else in the field of 132 shot a red number. The projected cut after Wednesday’s second round is expected to be around 160.

Other players within striking distance are Jack Wyman at 73 and Brian Angis, Jason Gall, Joe Alvarez, Sam Grindle, Jordan Jones and Greg Martin at 74.

Defending champion Ricky Jones and past winner Eric Crouse each crafted a 75. Jones bogeyed three of the final four holes on a hot, humid, partly sunny day.

Like the top three, Slattery, 25, endured a round of twists and turns with a healthy bottom line.

The Poland Regional High School graduate and Martindale Country Club member logged birdies at 6, 8, 12 and 15. Three of them immediately followed bogeys.

“It’s a good number. It was pretty blah, pretty boring. I like boring golf. That’s very, very fun for me,” Slattery said. “Keeping the ball in play and getting good iron shots is usually the key for me. I like the course, because you can hit a lot of irons.”

Patterson recovered from a double bogey on the fourth hole with birdies at five and seven — both par 3s. He chalked up three additional birdies on the back.

Baker’s adventurous card featured only one par on the back nine, at the par-3 17th.

He piggybacked consecutive bogeys at 10 and 11 with back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13, then strung together birdies again at 15 and 16 to counter bogeys at 14 and 18.

“Just keep it going, trying to hit greens in regulation,” Baker said of his strategy. “I’ve been playing streaky, so I’m happy with the round. You just don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot on the first day.”

Jones, 42, won his third state title in wire-to-wire fashion at Augusta Country Club in 2013.

He’ll have to wage a comeback against the kids to pull it off this time after a late collapse in the opening round.

“I struggled at the finish because I haven’t played those holes in probably 10 years,” Jones said. “I couldn’t remember anything about them. I couldn’t remember what side to miss it on.”

With tee boxes adjusted slightly to compensate for five inches of rain in the past week, the course still played at a stout 6,648 yards.

“The key today was being smart. Hit quality shots and don’t three-putt,” Slattery said. “If I could stay even par all three days, I’d take it right now and be done.”

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