After being runner-up twice and four-time junior champion in the prestigious Maine Women's Amateur, Bailey Plourde was not about to let a little wind, mist, damp conditions or fog keep her from her appointed quest to be deemed, at least for 2018, the best female golfer in the Pine Tree State.

After strong, consistent work on the course Wednesday, July 25, the three-time Maine schoolgirl titlist earned another piece of special hardware for her trophy case — this time, one made of beautiful crystal.

That is because Plourde won the amateur championship at the Rockland Golf Club just a few miles from her home course at the Samoset Resort.

"It feels great," Plourde said. "I grew up on this course [playing in Midcoast Junior Golf Association tournaments]. It's definitely a special one for me."

Plourde was tied for the lead after the first 18 holes and trailed by one stroke after two rounds of the three-day, 54-hole stroke-play tournament, held Monday through Wednesday, July 23-25.

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Then the graduate of Lincoln Academy in Newcastle and soon-to-be junior at Centre College in Danville, Ky., used impressive play on the front nine holes to build a five-shot lead before she held on for the title.

Plourde finished at 76-78-78—232 (+13) to win by three strokes over Jordan Laplume of Dunegrass Golf Club at 76-77-82–235 (+16). Laplume led by a stroke over Plourde before the final round.

Plourde finished with six birdies, 32 pars, 13 bogeys and three double-bogeys during the tourney. In the final round, she shot even-par 37 on the front nine, with a birdie on the fourth hole and bogey on the third, and finished at 41 on the back.

Plourde said there was a bit of pressure on her playing close to home and being one of the favorites to win the tourney, due to her golf pedigree and previous success in the event.

"I'm always the one that puts pressure on myself," she said. "I wanted this one really bad."

The stroke-play event started with 64 players on a course that played as a par-73 and measured around 5,500 yards for the championship.

There were golfers from many clubs around the state, including a handful from Midcoast courses: Plourde of Samoset Resort in Rockport; Nancy Carlson, Susan Wootton, Donni Witham and Madolin Fogarty of Rockland Golf Club; Birdie Pearse of Goose River Golf Club in Rockport; and Elaine Bielenberg of Northport Golf Club.

Wootton finished 93-94-92—279 (29th, second in third flight); Carlson, 94-97-91—282 (33rd); Fogarty, 98-96-97—291 (44th); Pearse, 109-100-110—319 (56th); Bielenberg, 104-108-107—319 (57th); and Witham, 106-103-110-—319 (58th).

Plourde played well early in the final round, but admitted she struggled a bit down the stretch.

"My confidence was really good on the front [nine]," she said. "[I] just had to keep calm and play my own game. On the back [nine] the last few holes were a little tough because I've never been in that position before. I've always been behind going into the last couple of holes [of this tourney]. It was tough, and I just had to keep calm and keep my confidence where it was."

With the championship in her sights, Plourde said she was a bit nervous on the back nine hole.

"It was tough," she said. "I just had to try to stay confident in my own game. I was swinging really well on the front, and it got away from me on the back a little bit, but I had to forget about the bad shots that I had."

On the final hole, she hit an errant tee shot that finished near a bush next to the practice putting green to right of the 18th green.

"On the range yesterday I hit a couple of those same shots that shanked to the right. Not that it was in my head, I was just not getting through the ball and there were definitely nerves there."

Plourde said she was surprised she was able to build what appeared a comfortable lead over the first nine hole.

"I honestly didn't know I was up five [strokes]," she said. "I knew I was up, but I didn't know I was up five shots. I knew I had to keep calm and try to keep the lead and try not to lose it. Hole 15 was where I said, 'If I can just play steady, play my game, I should be good.' Obviously 15 wasn't great, and 16 I saved par and 17 I bogeyed and 18 is when I doubled. I thought 15 was the turning point for sure."

Plourde said the windy, overcast, misty, gloomy conditions — with some sun — for the three days affected most golfers. But she is used to dealing with all types of conditions at her course up the road.

"I play at the Samoset so I'm used to the wind and the rain and whatnot," she siad. "Conditions were pretty tough today with the wind. I'm glad I had my caddy to put some trust into [my play]."

Earlier play

After two rounds Plourde (76-78—154) was one-stroke off the pace. She finished second in the same event the previous two years.

According to a release by Mike Doran, director of communications for the Maine State Golf Association, Laplume (76-74—153) and Plourde finished stroke apart and again were paired in the final group to see if either one — or some one from a bit back in the pack — would win the coveted crown.

Laplume and Plourde were tied after opening rounds of 76 and played Tuesday's second round together. Laplume carded 77 to finish with a two-day total of 153 to hold a one-stroke lead over Plourde heading into the final round.

“I kind of kept a match between Bailey and me today, which helped,” said Laplume, who graduated from Thornton Academy in Saco last month and will head to Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. in the fall. “She’s a great player and she’s always been so talented,” said Laplume of her friend, Plourde.

Plourde admitted she focused a little too much on her playing partners and not enough on her own game in round two.

Regardless, she sat one stroke back with 18 holes to play in the championship.

“I just gotta keep my head down and play my own game,” said Plourde. Her second round 78 had her at 154 through two rounds.

Joining those two in Wednesday’s final pairing was 13-year-old Ruby Haylock of Turner Highlands Country Club, who is young even by the standards of the already youthful talented golfers atop the leaderboard.

“I’m really pleased with how I played today and I’m looking forward to playing with Jordan and Bailey tomorrow,” Ruby Haylock said. Her rounds of 80-78—158 left her five shots back and tied for third with Elizabeth Lacognata of Falmouth Country Club, who matched her scores through both rounds.

Erin Holmes of Val Halla Golf Course had the round of the day with a 2-over par 75. After an opening round of 84, the sophomore at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. sat eight back of the leaders, before making two birdies against four bogeys in round two for the low round of the championship.

“I went to the range last night to practice my wedge play,” she said, “and just worked on those shots from 100 yards and in that I didn’t hit well yesterday.”

Holmes laid up on some holes to wedge range in round two instead of “just hitting driver off every tee,” which left her with more comfortable yardages into the greens. As a result, the reigning Maine Junior Champion worked her way into contention to win the MWA with 18 holes to play.

She joined Lacognata and Ruth Collucci of Biddeford-Saco Count Club in Wednesday's penultimate pairing.

Plourde and Laplume were in the final pairing at last year’s amateur at Martindale Country Club and saw first-hand what it takes to win a state title.

Playing with Staci Creech, the eventual winner, they observed up-close the poise and skill that led Creech to her third straight MWA title.

Creech has since moved out of state and was not in the field to defend her title, opening the door for Laplume and Plourde, along with a bevy of other talented golfers looking to claim the women’s amateur title.

Laplume and Plourde put their best feet — and swings — forward in their opening rounds as they shot 3-over par 76s to share the first-round lead.

Both players have had success in the past as juniors competing in MSGA events. Laplume won the girls 13-14 flight at the Maine Junior Championship in 2015, while Plourde won the same flight in 2013 before winning the overall girls title in 2016.

Ruby Haylock was the second youngest competitor in the field, with her 11-year-old sister, Jade, the only younger competitor at Rockland.

Doran said the MSGA merged with the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association (SMWGA) and Women’s Maine State Golf Association (WMSGA) to form one governing body that represents all golfers in the Pine Tree State.

Last year’s championship was at Martindale Country Club and won by Creech with a score of 217 (+4). It was the third consecutive win for the golfer from Bangor Municipal Golf Course.

The Maine Women’s Amateur — as it is called today — was first played in 2012 when the SMWGA and WMSGA decided to run one tournament that combined their two memberships to crown one state champion. The event has a lot of history from before its name change though, as prior to 2012 both associations conducted their own championships and crowned their respective champions.

According to the MSGA website, eligibility for the tourney is restricted to Maine resident amateurs. Non-residents who have been members of MSGA affiliated clubs for 10 years and who reside in Maine for at least three months annually also are eligible. Active duty service members who are stationed in Maine, live here, and hold membership with an MSGA affiliated club also are eligible. The handicap index must be equal to or less than 36.0.

Fun facts

• The field was comprised of 64 players who represented 31 golf clubs in Maine.

• Turner Highlands Country Club had the most players in the field with seven, followed by Natanis with five, and Martindale, Rockland, Val Halla and The Woodlands with four.

• Eleven of Maine’s 16 counties had at least one player in the field.

• There was one set of sisters who competed in the championship: Jade and Ruby Haylock from Turner Highlands. There was one mother and daughter duo in the field: Prudence Hornberger and her daughter, Mia. A visual and audio story on this group of golfers appears with this story.

The field was made up of players from the following golf clubs, with the number of players from that club in parentheses: Augusta (1), Bangor Municipal (2), Bath (1), Biddeford-Saco (3), Brunswick (3), Dunegrass (1), Falmouth (1), Fox Ridge (1), Goose River (1), Hermon Meadows (2), Lake Kezar (1), The Links at Outlook (1), Martindale (4), Natanis (5), Northport (1), Old Marsh (1), Point Sebago (1), Portland (1), Purpoodock (1), Riverside (1), Rockland (4), Sable Oaks (1), Samoset (1), Sheepscot Links (2), Springbrook (2), St. Croix (1), Turner Highlands (7), Val Halla (4), Wawenock (1), Webhannet (2) and Woodlands (4).

Mike Doran, director of communications for the MSGA, contributed portions of information to this story.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.