OAKLAND, Maine — Leslie Guenther wasn’t the least bit interested in being the center of attention on Tuesday.
After shooting a 2-over-par 75 that put her in the lead, the veteran golfer quietly snuck away to her car after at the 3rd annual Maine Women’s Amateur golf championship at Waterville Country Club.
“She’s very consistent,” said Monica Austin of the Woodlands Club in Falmouth, who played in a threesome with Guenther and Kathy Crawford of Dunegrass Golf Club in Old Orchard Beach.
“She hits the ball straight and she doesn’t put herself in trouble, always leaves herself a good shot,” added Austin, who was among several competitors at 88.
There were still a handful of higher-handicap golfers on the course late Tuesday afternoon, but Guenther will be in front to begin Wednesday’s round.
Guenther, who plays out of Norway Country Club, surged to the front of the 83-player field on a gorgeous mid-summer day that presented golfers with drastically different course conditions than on Monday.
The first round of the tournament was canceled because of wet, unplayable grounds on some of the greens. Only 24 players completed the first round and the scores did not count.
On Tuesday, golfers were greeted by warm temperatures, abundant sunshine and some wind, which helped dry out the already testy Waterville Country Club greens.
“Of course as the wind came up, the greens dried out and got faster and faster and then I said, ‘oh, welcome to Waterville Country Club,’” said club member Debby Gardner, who shot an 83.
Guenther, the runner-up in the inaugural Maine Women’s Amateur in 2012, will headline the last group for Wednesday’s second and final round. She will be playing with Mary Brandes of The Woodlands, who had a 78, and two-time defending champion Emily Bouchard of Saco, who shot an 80.
Prudence Hornberger of Turner Highlands also shot an 80 and will play with Micki Meggison of Sable Oaks in South Portland and Ruth Colucci of Biddeford-Saco Country Club, both of whom came in at 81.
Cecily Whiting of The Woodlands and 14-year-old Bailey Plourde of Newcastle are seven shots back at 82, while Sarah Hansen of Val Halla in Cumberland and Marla LeBlanc of The Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth joined Gardner at 83.
Bouchard was unable to rediscover the same touch that enabled her to fire an even-par 73 on Monday. She admitted disappointment at having the round wiped out.
“It’s just unfortunate,” said the 24-year-old. “You come out, you play great and it gets taken away from you a little bit. But everybody’s in the same boat (starting over).”
Bouchard played in the lead group that also included Gardner and Kris Kannegieser out of Martindale Country Club in Auburn. The greens, on which there are very few flat putts, were considerably quicker on Tuesday.
“Our whole group didn’t make too many putts out here,” Bouchard said. “It’s a Donald Ross (designed) course.
“There’s just a lot of deception our here. You look at a putt and it goes the opposite way. It’s just tough,” she added.
Guenther is a perennial championship contender in Maine women’s amateur golf. She tied for ninth in last year’s Maine Women’s Amateur.
From 2003-2011, at the now-defunct Women’s Maine State Golf Association Championship, Guenther finished no lower than sixth (2011) and registered three consecutive runner-up performances (2005-2007).
She opened Tuesday’s round with a birdie on No. 1, then rattled off six pars before encountering some trouble on the eighth hole. She four-putted and settled for a double-bogey 6.
However, Guenther then sandwiched pars around a birdie on No. 10, before dropping a stroke on three of the next four holes. She birdied the 17th to get back to 2 over.
Guenther finished the round, verified her scorecard and skedaddled.
“I think she plays the game for fun. She loves the game,” Austin said. “She just wants to play well [Wednesday] and doesn’t want to think about it.”