June 19, 2018
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Jones fires 71 at PVCC, wins Bunyan golf tourney by seven strokes

By Dave Barber, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — Ricky Jones of Thomaston won his fifth Paul Bunyan Amateur Golf Tournament after firing a 1-under-par 71 on Sunday at Penobscot Valley Country Club.

His two-day total of 4-under-par 138 following an opening-round 67 at Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor on Saturday gave Jones a seven-stroke victory over runner-up Ryan Gay of Pittston.

It was Jones’ first major tournament victory since his last Bunyan title in 2007. He also won in 2001, 2004 and 2005. His Maine Amateur wins were in 2003 and 2004, and he won the Maine Open in 2006.

“Anytime you can win, it feels good,” Jones said. “I don’t think I broke par in any tournament rounds last year, so to start off with two right off the bat, hopefully it’s a good sign.”

He gave a lot of credit to a strength training program that he began in November called CrossFit, which he said is “constantly varied functional movements.”

He has lost some weight and has more energy.

“I don’t feel tired at all,” said Jones. “Last year, I was kind of huffing and puffing when I got up to 18.”

He credits it, too, with relieving the stress on his lower back.

“As many times as you swing the golf club, and as fast as we turn our back, I used to have a lot of back problems, so it’s getting a lot better as well,” Jones said.

Jason Harvey of Bangor finished third at 146 following a second straight 73.

Jack Wyman of South Freeport was fourth with 75-148, followed by John Hayes with 76-149, Bill Hutchins with 79-151 and 2012 co-champion Casey Catell of Bangor at 76-152.

KC Kinney of Bangor won the B flight with a 78 at PVCC for 158, Butch Kennedy took C honors with an 82 at Kebo for 159 and Stan Commeau of Glenburn topped D flight with an 88 at Kebo for 175.

Stephanie Babin of Biddeford-Saco Country Club earned the women’s title with a 90 at PVCC for a 183 total.

Jones started the day with a two-stroke lead over two-time champion Gay and five over Hutchins.

“The last couple times I played with Ryan, he started off making three or four birdies in a row and you’re lead’s gone and you’re like, ‘what just happened?’” said Jones, laughing.

“Plus, he made it a little bit easier by hitting it out of bounds on the first hole,” he added.

“I’ve been working with Paul Piveronas down at The Woodlands [in Falmouth],” said Gay, “and we’re working on something with my swing. We’re trying to swing the club a little more to the right and hit a draw. And I tried aiming that one down the left side, for whatever reason, and hit a cut. I just hit a double-cross dead left.”

Jones made an eagle 3 on No. 3, suffered his first bogey of the tournament on No. 5, then added birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to turn in 3-under 33, six strokes better than Gay and seven better than Hutchins.

Jones struggled more on the back nine with four straight bogeys from 11 through 14, but birdies on 15 and 16 secured the title.

“I missed a couple [putts], and it’s ‘Oh no, you let him back in.’ You’d like to have as many shots as you can [for a lead],” said Jones.

Gay felt he struck the ball except for his first tee shot, but he struggled with his putting.

“Putting was always the strongest part of my game,” said Gay, who won the 2010 and 2011 Bunyans. “I wouldn’t say I’ve neglected it, because I haven’t, but it hasn’t been my main focus.”

Hutchins took a triple-bogey 7 on No. 5 and never was able to get back in the hunt.

Harvey made five birdies against one bogey in the first 10 holes, then he bogeyed three in a row followed by a double bogey.

Gay gave Jones all the credit for winning.

“Ricky played great today,” he said. “Seventy-one out there with that wind and as firm as those greens were, that would have been tough to beat even if you played well. He’s a great player.”

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