YORK, Maine — Second-round leader Ricky Jones and first-round leader Joe Baker found themselves laughing together midway through the third and final round of the 97th Maine Amateur Golf Championship on Thursday.
They knew that there was nothing they could do — first-time event participant Matt Hutchins was on a roll and wasn’t going to stop.
Hutchins shot a final-round 5-under 65 to beat second-place Jones by six strokes to win at York Golf & Tennis Club.
“You can’t do nothing to change that. Me and Ricky, we both saw it coming,” said Baker, an Oxford resident and Martindale Country Club [of Auburn] member who finished in third at 1-over. “We were talking to each other going up, I think, the 10th hole, and we both looked at each other and just started laughing. That’s all you can do.”
Baker finished with a 1-over 211 for third, Sam Grindle of Island Country Club in Deer Isle was fourth at 212, and Judd Parsons of York GTC and Gavin Dugas of JW Parks in Pittsfield tied for fifth at 214.
Hutchins birdied the second hole after Jones bogeyed the first to take the lead. Jones then chipped in from the edge of a bunker on the fourth hole to take back the lead.
Hutchins, a 19-year-old from Falmouth who will be attending UCLA after playing for Division II national runner-up Chico State (California) last year, bogeyed No. 4, but then birdied the fifth hole and took the lead for good with a 50-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 eighth.
“I was just trying to lag that up close, and it was fortunate enough to catch one of the edges and bang in the back,” Hutchins said.
Hutchins also birdied the 10th, 15th and 17th holes, and he played without a bogey the rest of the day to win easily.
“It just felt good to hit some good shots and roll in a couple putts,” Hutchins said. “I putted well all week. I was able to make some par saves, and especially the past two days, which kind of kept my round going and kept me in it.”
“It was fun to watch him when he got going on the roll,” said Jones, the three-time Maine Amatuer champ from Thomaston.
“I asked my caddie on No. 10, I asked him what [Hutchins] even shot on the front, because I didn’t know,” added Jones. “I was still thinking about [the seventh hole].”
Jones hit his tee shot into a bunker on the par-3 seventh, couldn’t get out on his first try, then hit his second past the hole. He then needed two putts to finish, taking Jones from a two-shot lead to all-even with Hutchins and Baker.
Jones birdied No. 8, but then bogeyed the ninth to give Hutchins a two-shot lead.
That lead kept growing, and not even the dangerous 16th hole could faze the youngster, who finished second in the New England Open and third in the Massachusetts Open earlier this year. Hutchins played a safe second shot on the par-4 short of the green, but then chipped his third shot a foot away from the hole before tapping in for an easy par.
Even up five shots with two holes to go — and the 16th in the rear view mirror — Hutchins said it wasn’t until the 18th green when he felt like the title was in his grasp. He missed a chance at birdie, but a par putt hit the bottom of the hole.
“It’s always special, especially to win your own state am,” Hutchins said.
The Massachusetts transplant whose family returned to Maine in the fall after 12 years in the Bay State, made his way to the top of the leaderboard with a first-round 72 and a second-round 67 on the par-70 course. His two under-par rounds were part of just eight total for the tournament.
Defending champ John Hayes IV and 13-time champ Mark Plummer were tied with two other players for 22nd place at 12-over.