BANGOR, Maine — Stephen Saleeby said his University of North Carolina Wilmington golf teammate Reese McFarlane from Cape Elizabeth has been “nagging me for a long time to come up here and play and I finally said, ‘You know what, let’s do it. Let’s have a fun weekend.’
“And we did,” said Saleeby, a Raleigh, North Carolina, native who shot a 2-under par 69 on Sunday and sank a 2-foot birdie putt to edge John Hayes IV of Cape Elizabeth by one shot to win the fifth annual Downeast Metro Amateur Golf Tournament at Bangor Municipal Golf Course.
Saleeby, who just graduated from UNC Wilmington and is soon headed to Life University in Georgia to become a chiropractor, shot a 3-over par 73 at the wind-swept Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor on Saturday to finish with a two-day total of one-over-par 142.
Hayes, who plays out of the Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth, was the leader by two strokes over Saleeby after firing a 71 at Kebo on Saturday. He shot a 72 on Sunday to finish at 143.
Hampden native Joe Alvarez shot a 1-under par 70 to finish with a two-day total of 145 and earn third-place honors. Holden native and Duke University golfer Drew Powell, who won the Class A state championship while playing for Bangor High in 2014, was the third member of the last group and shot a 73 to go with Saturday’s 74 for fourth place at 147.
Caleb Manuel, who won the Class A state title and led Mount Ararat High School of Topsham to the team championship last fall, shot 76-74-150 to share fifth place with Mike O’Brien (74-76-150). O’Brien, like Hayes, used to play out of the Sable Oaks Golf Club in South Portland. But Sable Oaks closed for good earlier this year and is being turned into a senior living community.
Lance Bernier was sixth (79-72-151) and rounding out the top 10 at 152 were Patrick Bucklin Sr. (79-73), Eric Dugas (79-73), Logan Thompson (84-68) and Peter Wright (81-71).
Saleeby gained one stroke on Hayes on the front nine by shooting an even-par 35 while Hayes shot a 36.
He then gained a share of the lead on the par-3 11th with a par while Hayes lipped out his 3-foot par putt.
Saleeby took the lead for good with a birdie on the par-4 318-yard 13th hole while Hayes bogeyed the hole.
Saleeby’s tee shot on the 13th landed just 5 feet in front of the green and he chipped to within 4 feet and made the birdie putt.
“That was a real good drive. It set me up for the birdie,” said Saleeby, who used a driver off the tee.
Hayes three-putted from 12 feet to fall two shots back.
“That was a bad three-putt. It was a mental error,” said Hayes, the 2017 Downeast Metro winner and 2015 Maine Amateur Tournament titlist.
Saleeby picked up another shot on the par-4 14th when Hayes chunked his chip shot in the deep grass just off the green and it went only 4 feet. He wound up with a bogey while Saleeby parred the hole by two-putting from 15 feet.
But Hayes wasn’t done yet.
After both Saleeby and Hayes birdied the par-5 15th, Hayes pulled within two with a par on the par-3 16th. Saleeby bogeyed the hole as he missed a 3-foot par putt.
Hayes climbed within one on the par-4 17th with a beautiful drive and approach shot which set him up for a 5-foot birdie putt.
Saleeby’s drive landed behind a big tree but he nicely negotiated the tree with his approach shot which wound up 6 inches off the green. His lag putt left him with a challenging 5-foot, downhill putt that he sank for a par to preserve the lead.
“That was big,” Saleeby said. “It was a downhill slider. That tested my nerves a little bit.”
With just one shot separating them, both hit good drives on the 18th. Saleeby’s drive was 15 yards longer than Hayes’.
Saleeby stuck his approach shot on the green, 25 feet from the hole, while Hayes’ approach sailed over the green.
Hayes’ chip shot carried 15 feet past the hole but he holed his 15-foot birdie putt which required Saleeby to sink a 2 1/2-foot birdie putt after his 25-foot eagle putt rolled by the hole.
Saleeby converted the birdie putt to claim the win.
The 22-year-old Saleeby said he was glad he finally caved in to McFarlane’s plea to play in the tournament.
”I had a great time. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a golf tournament. There is a lot of history at both courses,” Saleeby said. “Winning it adds to it. But, either way, I had fun.”
McFarlane, who will be a senior at UNC Wilmington, shot a 77 his natural left-handed way at Kebo on Saturday and turned around and carded an 80 right-handed on Sunday in Bangor
“I wanted to challenge myself,” McFarlane explained. “It was a lot of fun.”
Defending champ Len Cole shot a 79-76-155 to tie for 15th.
The B flight winner was Cash Wiseman (78-76-154), Bourke O’Brien won the C Flight (81-78-159) and the D flight champ was Carl Poirier (88-87-175).
Mike O’Brien (74-76-150) was the Senior A Flight winner, Wiseman (78-76-154) had the low gross score among Seniors in the B flight, Artie Hinton (87-87-174) and Charles Woolsey (80-94-174) shared Seniors C Flight honors and Poirier (88-87-175) was the D Flight Seniors winner.