BRUNSWICK, Maine — There were many things that Jack Wyman was thinking about on Thursday in the final round of the Maine Amateur Golf Championship at Brunswick Golf Club.
He wanted to make clean hits as the rain came pouring down on the back nine, especially with Deer Isle’s Sam Grindle using a birdie barrage over a five-hole stretch to turn an eight-stroke deficit into two. Wyman was looking to hit fairways, something he struggled with in the final round after driving consistently through the opening two rounds, a skill that had given him a three-stroke advantage.
Things he didn’t think about much … being the first left-hander to win the Maine Amateur title.
Wyman did just that, holding off Grindle’s charge for a two-stroke win, giving the South Freeport native the title.
“I have played in a lot of (Amateurs) now and it is a great feeling to win one,” said Wyman, who reacted to the news of being the first lefty winner. “Go lefties! There are a lot of good ones out here.”
Grindle’s 1-under 71 was the low round on this cool, rainy day. Cole Anderson of Camden, a 16-year-old, finished at 214 for third, with Joe Baker and Ricky Jones tied for fourth at 215. Joe Alvarez faltered on the back nine, closing with a 43.
Wyman rode a hot start on Thursday, picking up birdies on the first three holes and extending his three-shot overnight lead to six over Alvarez. With that advantage, Wyman lost his feel for the driver, consistently missing fairways. Wyman felt that he became a little bit conservative after claiming the big lead.
“That is just how it goes, you get off to a hot start and you just want to protect that lead,” said Wyman. “I wanted to stay aggressive all day today, but it was more difficult than what I expected. I had to grind it out.”
Anderson, playing one group in front of the final three, drew within four shots with a birdie on No. 7. But, a double bogey on the par-4 eighth ended his hopes.
Alvarez, who began the day in second after a solid 4-under 68 on Wednesday, made the turn five strokes back after going out in 1 over par, while Wyman shook off two bogeys on the front to shoot a 1-under 34.
But it was Grindle who made the charge up the leaderboard. Trailing by eight strokes through the first three holes on Thursday, he steadied himself with four consecutive pars before going on a birdie run. He birdied eight, then nine, followed by two more on the par-5 11th and 12th holes. Wyman birdied 11, but after making par on 12, his lead was just two shots.
“There is nothing you can do but play your own game. Sam is a great player, someone I have played with multiple times. I just stuck to my game plan and kept going,” said Wyman.
“I knew that I had to grind it out, make some birdies to put some pressure on Jack, and I think I did that,” added Grindle. “I didn’t get caught up about how far he was ahead, and I wanted to take a cut at it.”
The turning point on the back nine came at the par-3 14th. Grindle sent his drive into the hazard to the right of the green.
“I had a hybrid and a 4-iron, and it was quite easy to switch to the 4-iron, get up there, chip it on and make par,” said Wyman.
Grindle battled back for a solid bogey on the hole to stay three back, but two more miscues on 16 and 17 stretched Wyman’s lead back out to four.
“I wasn’t quite as sharp as I was in the middle of the round,” said Grindle, who discussed his bogey on 14. “After I hit it in the water and took a drop, I put it on the green, watched him make a good three and I was able to make a bogey to stay in it.”
The 601-yard, par-5 18th caused havoc throughout the week. It did the same to Wyman on Thursday. After a solid drive, he chunked his chip, failing to clear the dogleg. Up by four strokes, he laid up from there before finding the green on his fourth shot. A three-putt followed for a double bogey.
“I stumbled there at the finish,” said Wyman, who shot 74 in the final round for a three-day total of 5-under-par 211. “I never want to play 18 again. I have never played that hole well. The tee box sets you up to hit it out of bounds, and the other side has the hazard. It is just a tough hole. I am glad to get that behind me.”
Wyman praised the Maine State Golf Association and his fellow competitors, including 13-time Amateur champion Mark Plummer.
“The Maine Golf Association has a cool fraternity of guys, and everyone supports each other. It is cool to follow in Mark Plummer’s footsteps, but he has won 13, so I have a long way to go,” said Wyman.