FALMOUTH, Maine – The last time the New England Amateur Championship was held in Maine, one the state's own Reese McFarlane took home the title.
Five years later, Mike Arsenault Jr. is hoping he can follow suit. Arsenault (Val Halla GC), of Scarborough, shot a 4-under 68 on Tuesday at The Woodlands Club, giving him a one-stroke lead over tightly-contested leaderboard.
Thomas Harrison (Old Sandwich GC-MA) is the closest at the moment after shooting a 3-under 68, while Maine Amateur champion Caleb Manuel (Brunswick GC) and Joey Lenane (George Wright Golf Course-MA) finished 2-under in the opening round.
Round 2 will begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday. At the conclusion of the second round, the field of 144 will be reduced to the 60 low players and ties for the final round Thursday.
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Arsenault made birdie on five of his first seven-holes on the tree-lined course to settle into the rhythm Tuesday. After finishing in the top 10 in the past two Maine Amateurs, he is hoping that this is finally the week for a breakthrough. Despite finishing his opening nine with a pair of bogeys, Arsenault shot 1-under on the front nine to keep the lead for the day.
"I putted really well, and that’s how golf goes. You putt well, you play well," said Arsenault, who knocked down seven birdies total.
Lenane, playing on softened greens from rains from the previous days, made birdie on four of his first 11 holes. He got up-and-down for birdie early in the round (par-5 11th), but his best came on the sixth (his 15th of the day) when he made a 30-footer.
On the tree-lined course, Lenane was focused on being in the fairway, and his putter got going at the right time.
"There are not many holes I hit driver, it’s pretty tight,” Lenane said. “I took the aggressive route and hit driver, which is one of the rare times to get aggressive on this course. It paid off.”
Thomas Harrison (Old Sandwich GC-MA) got himself in the conversation again with a 3-under 69, featuring a bogey-free start on the back nine to start the day and finishing even-par on the front.
Manuel managed three birdies and one bogey, but he had the chance to be even higher, as many of his 15 to 20 footers burned the edge. Still, the University of Georgia standout who won the Maine title with a dominating 11-stroke victory, should be a factor over the next couple days.
Woodlands member Michael Madden, 15, is among a large pack of eight golfers who finished even-par and are well within contention through the first third of the competition. With five birdies and five bogeys Tuesday, Madden is hoping for more of the former going forward
“I aimed for the big part of the fairway," Madden said. "You just have to avoid those really big numbers that ruin your entire round.”
1 - Mike Arsenault, Jr, Val Halla GC (ME); -4; 68
2 - Thomas Harrison; Old Sandwich GC (MA); -3; 69
T3 - Joey Lenane; George Wright GC (MA); -2; 70
T3 - Caleb Manuel; Brunswick GC (ME); -2; 70
5 - Nick McLaughlin; Far Corner GC (MA); -1; 71
T6 - Matt Williams; Boston GC (MA); E; 72
T6 - Michael Madden, Woodlands Club (ME); E; 72
T6 - Michael Walsh, Burlington CC (VT); E; 72
T6 - John Broderick; Dedham C&P Club (MA); E; 72
T6 - Connor Goode,; Glastonbury Hills CC (CT); E; 72
T6 - Garren Poirier; Rutland CC (VT); E; 72
T6 - Taylor Bellemare; Ekwanok CC (VT); E; 72
T6 - Mathew Smith; Manchester CC (VT); E; 72
Top Scores From Each State
Connecticut – T6 (E) Connor Goode; Glastonbury Hills CC
New Hampshire – T14 (+1) Ryan Scollins; Bald Peak CC & Jack Pepin (Atkinson Resort & CC
Maine – 1 (-4) Michael Arsenault; Val Halla GC
Massachusetts – 2 (-2) Thomas Harrison; Old Sandwich GC
Rhode Island – T26 (+2) Kevin Silva; Montaup CC
Vermont – T6 (E) Michael Walsh; Burlington CC; Garren Poirier; Rutland CC; Taylor Bellemare; Ekwanok CC; Mathew Smith, Manchester CC
About The Woodlands Club
Located just minutes outside of Portland, The Woodlands features an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Jim and George Fazio that has hosted everything from state amateur events to Korn Ferry Tour events (formerly the Hogan Tour & Nike Tour).
The course debuted in 1988, with the project involving breaking and moving more than 35,000 cubic yards of rock.
This is the second time the New England Amateur is being held at Woodlands, the first being 2006 when Rhode Island's Brad Valois won by two strokes, shooting 1-under 287 over the 72-hole tournament. The championship is now contested over 54 holes.
The New England Golf Association will continue to provide content and updates from the New England Amateur Championship on Instagram and Twitter.