BAR HARBOR – Ricky Jones saved his best for last and the talented 49-year-old golfer from Thomaston — a three-time winner of the event — made a strong push up the leaderboard in the final round of the 102nd Maine Amateur Championship on Thursday, July 15 at Kebo Valley Golf Club.

Jones, who plays out of the Samoset Resort Golf Club in Rockport, finished with an impressive 69 over the final 18 holes of the three-day, 54-hole event, which tied three others as the second-best score of the day.

Jones finished the prestigious event at 75-75-69—219 (+9) to tie for eighth — eight shots behind the winner.

Caleb Manuel of the Brunswick Golf Club finished first by a stroke, as he finished 68-75-68—211 (+1), while Will Kannegieser of Portland Country Club was second at 73-70-69—212 (+2). It was Manuel’s first Maine Am title.

The five Midcoast golfers in the Maine Am realized varying degrees of success among the 132 participants of the event played Tuesday through Thursday, July 13-15 at the fabled, historic Kebo Valley.

Jones was the only golfer among the five area participants to make the cut and earn a spot for the final 18 holes on Thursday, July 15.

“For the majority, I played reasonably well,” Jones said. “The first day I hit one really bad shot on No. 8 from 70 yards that cost me a couple shots (bladed it over the green into the hazard). I didn’t have any success on that hole as I was +9 for the tournament and played that hole +5 for the three days. I’ve been struggling a little with my swing and getting it to produce consistent results for whatever reason. I joke on my age and that I will be a considered a senior shortly, but my mind doesn’t feel that way. I hit it slightly shorter than I used to, but the bigger factors I feel are really trying to focus for that long, as well as not putting in the practice and effort I used to. Just like any sport, I feel the majority of how I play is decided before the event based on training and practice.”

Jones added, “Conditions were definitely difficult the second day as it was windy, but I definitely did not get the worst of it, as I had an early time.”

The talented golf said he is happy and proud to have made the cut in 21 consecutive amateurs since returning to Maine from Arizona in 2001, “so the last few years I have been focused on trying to see how long I can keep that streak going.”

After 36 holes, the field was cut to the low 40 players and ties, who advanced to Thursday’s final round.

The cut was exactly 40 players this year, as players who scored 153 or better advanced to the final round. Golfers who advanced from the cut received an exemption into next year’s Maine Am championship at Webhannet Golf Club in Kennebunk.

In addition to the final results, the top 16 players and ties from the Amateur earned a berth in the 2021 Match Play Invitational Tuesday through Thursday, Aug. 3-5 at Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn.

Among the local contingent in this year’s Maine Am event, Jon Hardy (+18, 78-80), Parker Hilchey (+19, 80-79) and Adam Wilcox (+29, 84-85) missed the cut. Hardy and Hilchey also play out of the Samoset and Wilcox Goose River Golf Club in Rockport.

Additionally, Chris King of Rockland, who plays out of The Woodlands in Falmouth, shot 83-80 (+23) missed the cut, while Kellen Adickes of Wawenock Golf Club in Walpole, who also has played out of the Samoset, made the cut and finished 39th at +22 (74-79-79—232).

A trio of players entered the final round of the Maine Am tied for the lead, but at the end of the day, 19-year old Manuel claimed the title with a 68 to win the tournament by one stroke over Kannegieser.

Mike Doran, director of communications of the Maine State Golf Association, said Manuel had the first round lead after an opening 68, but faltered in round two with 75 to come back to the field. After two days, Manuel was tied with Kannegieser and Joe Alvarez of Webhannet GC at 143 (+3).

The winner looked like it would come from the final pairing, as the three players held the lead or share of the lead through the final round. But despite a birdie on 18 from the chasing Kannegieser, Manuel’s bogey-free round of 68 was enough to win the title by one stroke.

Manuel, a rising sophomore at the University of Connecticut, shot rounds of 68-75-68—211 (+1) over three days at Kebo Valley. The Bar Harbor golf course held its own over the week, as it tested players with difficult weather conditions on top of the always difficult greens that have challenged players for more than a century, Doran said.

Kannegieser finished in solo second, as he improved each day with rounds of 73-70-69—212 (+2). He twice defeated Manuel over the last two seasons in the Match Play Invitational, but on this Thursday in July on MDI, Manuel finally got his revenge. Kannegieser bogeyed the 17th hole while within one shot of the lead, so despite a birdie on the closing hole of the event, he came up one shot short.

Alvarez finished tied for third after a round of 73. He was in contention early, but a double-bogey on the ninth hole set him back and chasing the leaders the rest of the day. Tied for third with Alvarez was Alex McGonagle of Val Halla Golf Club in Cumberland, who tied for the low round of the championship with a closing 68.

In all, seven players broke par on the final day, when the wind finally laid down and the sun came out, allowing players to get after the golf course after difficult conditions on the first two days.

Closing the top of the leaderboard were Mike Arsenault, Jr. of Val Halla at 217, followed by former champions Andrew Slattery of Portland CC and John Hayes of Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth at 218.

MaineStay Media/VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com.