PORTLAND — Dustin Cone of Bennington, Vt., held a two-stroke lead entering Wednesday’s final round of the Charlie’s Portland Maine Open, but he still had the jitters.
“I had them all morning,” said Cone, who teed off in the last group shortly after noon.
Cone plugged along, though, and the 1-under-par 71 he posted Wednesday for a two-day total of 134 was good enough to pull out a one-stroke victory over Rob Roylance of Orlando, Fla., and Mark Stevens of Concord, N.H.
Roylance shot a 66 Wednesday for 135, and Stevens, who was playing in the last threesome with Cone and Peter Kampmann of Riverside, Conn., birdied the last two holes for 70 and 135.
Eric Egloff (66) of Sandy Spring, Md., and Michael Welch (68) of North Quincy, Mass., tied for fourth at 136.
Tim Desmarais of Cape Elizabeth was the low Maine club pro by shooting a 70 for 137, Ricky Jones of Thomaston earned the low amateur honor with 72 for 142, and Mark Plummer (74) of Manchester and Gary Manoogian (78) of Westbrook tied for low senior amateur at 149. Greg Sandell, the Director of Golf at Boothbay Country Club, shot a 73 after a first-round 66 to finish with a 139.
Roylance, playing four groups in front of Cone, posted his score more than half an hour before Cone finished.
“I thought I might have a chance [to win],” said Roylance, who also admitted that it was a long shot.
“He shot 63 yesterday, so I thought he’d shoot 68 today and seal the deal,” said Roylance.
Roylance also chalked up Cone’s score to jitters.
“I figured he’d be nervous,” said Roylance. “I know I was, and I was nowhere near the lead.”
Cone wasn’t apologetic about it.
“If you don’t have the jitters, if you’re not nervous before a round, then you probably shouldn’t be playing,” said Cone, whose jitteriness continued right to the last putt.
Desmarais had taken the lead after making an eagle on the short, par-5 10th and draining a long birdie putt on 11 to get to 10 under. That put him a stroke up on Cone, who had birdied 10 to get back to even for the day and 9 under for the tourney.
Desmarais continued to lead until he made three bogeys in a row starting with 14.
Cone sank a 10-foot birdie putt on 15 to get to 10 under, but he had to watch as it caught the left edge of the cup and rolled around the rim to the right before falling.
Cone saved par on 16, then he watched his par putt on 17 roll all the way around the hole before dropping in.
“I wasn’t thinking anything [about his tournament hopes]. I was too busy sucking in my breath on that one,” admitted Cone.
His thoughts on playing well center around his big clubs: the driver and fairway woods.
“If you’re driving the ball well, you’ll play well,” he said.
He was doing just the opposite to start the round. He was quick with his first swing, then hit his driver thin on No. 2, hitting a low liner that didn’t go 200 yards.
He hit a hybrid club on No. 3 that left him about 180 yards from the green on a 420-yard hole.
Fortunately for Cone, he saved par on the first three holes until his driving improved.
He parred the next four holes as well before making his first, and only, bogey of the tournament, trimming his lead to one over Desmarais and Stevens.
At the turn, Desmarais decided it was time to make his move.
“When we changed sides, I said, ‘It’s time to go,”’ said Desmarais, an assistant pro at Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth who was playing in his first tournament as a pro.
After making eagle on 10 and birdie on 11, he recalled saying, “Here we go.”
“I knew I was playing good, but I didn’t know I was in the lead,” said Desmarais.
He held the lead outright for two more holes, then was tied for another, but the string of three bogeys halted his run.
He wasn’t upset, though.
“It was my first tournament as a pro,” he said. “I’m happy. I’m pleased.”
Cone, who’ll see many of these players again in three weeks at the Hollywood Slots Greater Bangor Open (where he finished second last year), was as much relieved as he was happy.
“It means a lot to me to play well against this competition,” said Cone.
And the $10,000 first-place check didn’t hurt either.