FALMOUTH, Maine — After two days of staying on the fairway and out of trouble, Andrew Slattery was preparing Wednesday evening to go off the grid after taking the lead through two rounds of the 95th Maine Amateur golf championship.
“That is a very new experience,” Slattery said of being in Thursday’s final group. “I almost don’t want to look at the tee times until the morning so I can sleep.”
After shooting 71 — the lone subpar round on the second day of the 54-hole showcase at Woodlands Club — Slattery stands alone at 1-under 143.
The 25-year-old from West Minot shouldn’t worry much about his lack of experience. Thursday playing partners Matt Greenleaf (144) and Joe Walp (145) haven’t been this close to winning the tournament, either, although the Portland players did meet in the final when Greenleaf won the 2013 match play championship at Auburn’s Fox Ridge.
“I was shaking today coming down. I’m not going to lie,” Greenleaf said. “But I can’t wait. That’s why we play.”
Defending champion Ricky Jones of Thomaston is five strokes back at 148, even after bogeys on the final two holes relegated him to a second-round 73. Jones is tied with 16-year-old Drew Powell of Bangor, who stumbled slightly to a 78 after sharing the opening-day lead with Walp.
Even the elite players in the field have endured the requisite ups-and-downs on this narrow, hazard-laden, 6,581-yard monster.
Slattery has minimized those sharp turns best, with the Martindale Country Club member cashing in 13 pars.
He birdied the 500-yard, par-5 sixth hole for the second consecutive day, and also registered birdies on 11 and 16.
His Wednesday playing partners took more adventurous routes.
Walp swerved into danger with his initial drive at 7:20 a.m.
“I hit a rope right into the water. That was a good start. I made bogey,” he said. “I putted pretty well. A three-putt on 4 (for double bogey) kind of killed me. I missed a short one. But I made quite a few putts on the front, at least.”
Walp birdied 2, 6 and 14.
Greenleaf’s only red numbers came back-to-back on 11 and 12. He recalled at least six up-and-downs for par, including a chip from just under 90 yards on the third hole.
“I didn’t hit as many greens today, but I scrambled like none other,” Greenleaf said. “The course played tougher. It’s drying out. It’s windy. The pace of play was a little slower.”
The biggest roar Greenleaf heard all day was when Jones, playing two groups ahead, holed out from 82 yards for eagle on 11.
That moved him to 1-under on the day, but again the back nine was his kryptonite. After a run of five consecutive pars, Jones said he “hit a bad shot” en route to bogey at 17 before three-putting 18 from the back fringe.
“I can’t get it up and down. That one I tried to hook it in, and it just stayed straight,” Jones said. “I hit a lot of putts that just missed today. Some good shots. The driver I hit well today. I got a little bit more aggressive than I was yesterday.”
Joe Baker of Norway shot 77 for a two-day total of 149 and will be in the next-to-last group with Jones and Powell.
Both Baker and Powell had a morning tee time and were flummoxed by a swirling wind that abated slightly as the day progressed.
“It was completely different. (Tuesday) we didn’t get much wind at all,” Powell said. “There were some gusts on the back nine that really got me thinking. It was more affecting my swing than it was whether it went left or right.”