KENNEBUNK – Five Midcoast golfers, including a former three-time champion, competed in the first two rounds of the 103rd Maine Amateur Championship Tuesday and Wednesday, July 12-13 at Webhannet Golf Club. When the final swings had been made and putts holed, only two had played well enough to qualify for the final 18 holes on Thursday, July 14.

While none of the area golfers was able to finish at the top of the prestigious 54-hole stroke-play event, two put themselves in strong position to content, and made the cut, after two rounds on a course that plays as a par 71 and measures about 6,100 yards for the championship.

In the end, after three days and three rounds in the summer heat, Daulton Wickenden, 25, of Rockport experienced tremendous success as he finished tied for seventh at +4 (75-69-73—217).

Additionally, three-time event champion Ricky Jones, 50, of Thomaston finished at 36th +16 (75-73-81—229).

By making the cut, Wickenden and Jones earned spots in next year’s Maine Am, which will be played close to home, namely, at the Samoset Resort Golf Club in Rockport, Jones’ home track. Jones also is exempt as a former tourney champion.

Jones and Wickenden were tied for 36th among 132 players after the opening round, while Wickenden moved into the top 15 after round two.

When the 132 golfers completed the first two days of play, the low 40 players and ties advanced to Thursday’s final round.

Caleb Manuel defended his 2021 title and grabbed back-to-back championships as he finished at 72-63-72—207 (-6).

Failing to make the cut among the local competitors were Jon Hardy, 47, of West Rockport, +17 (79-80—159); Parker Hilchey, 18, St. George, +18 (80-80—160); and Austin Souza, 31, Owls Head at +27 (83-86—169).

Jones, Hardy, Hilchey and Souza play out of the Samoset Resort and Wickenden at Goose River Golf Club, also in Rockport.

Additionally, among those known to have local ties, Adam Lynch, 28, of Brunswick missed the cut at +12 (80-74—154).

Defending a title in any sport is a difficult task, and Thursday’s final round of the Maine Am was no exception for reigning champion Manuel. Coming off a blistering 63 in Wednesday’s second round, Manuel came out slow on Thursday’s final round to make things interesting for the last day at Webhannet. The 20-year old from Topsham was able to rally on the back nine to make five birdies and shoot 72 to win the event by four strokes and defend his title from last year.

Manuel opened the tournament with a round of 72, which was high by the standards of the Brunswick Golf Club member, who recently qualified for and competed in the prestigious U.S. Open, a PGA Tour event, in Brookline, Mass. as an amateur. He got hot on day two of the Maine Am and regained the lead after a 63 that proved why he was the defending champion. His rounds of 72-63-72—207 (-6) were good enough to capture the title, as he edged Mike Arsenault of Val Halla Golf Club by four strokes.

Manuel was even par through four holes on the final round, but bogeys on five and six, followed by a double on seven, made the tournament interesting as the final groups headed to the second nine on the venerable Kennebunk golf course. Arsenault briefly had the lead, but Manuel stormed back with five birdies on the second nine to claim the title. Even though he did not need it for the win, he finished the tournament with a 25-foot birdie on the final hole before an appreciative crowd to win the championship.

Manuel becomes the third straight Mainer to win back-to-back Amateurs, following Jack Wyman and Anderson.

Anderson was not in the field this year.

Arsenault, who opened the tournament with a 68 for the early lead, finished in solo second with a three-round total of 211 (-2). After making the turn at +1 on his round, he was unable to make birdies on the second nine to put enough pressure on Manuel. However, it marked his best finish in the Amateur as he continues to make a name for himself in Maine golf championship events.

The reigning champion of the tourney may not have had the first round he had envisioned entering the week, but Manuel made a statement on day two, as he carded a bogey-free 63 in the second round to take the lead with 18 holes to play.

He made eight birdies against no bogeys on his second round to grab a two stroke lead after Wednesday’s round.

Starting on the 10th hole, Manuel made birdies on 13, 14, 16, and 18 to make the turn at -4. The birdies did not stop there, as he went on a run in the middle of his second nine with four straight birdies from five to eight to get to -8 on the day. Despite an opening 72, his second round was the lowest in recent Maine Am history and moved him to the top of the leaderboard.

On a warm and sunny day, some players took advantage of fine scoring conditions. In all, nine players broke par on Wednesday.

After the first day of play, the course showed its teeth to the field. Despite the short yardage the scorecard shows, the course played difficult in the opening round as gusty winds and tricky greens tested the field on day one.

On the first day, Arsenault led scorers, as he fired an opening 68 (-3) to take a two-shot lead into the second round.

Only six players broke par in Tuesday’s opening round.

The weather got more windy as the day went on, and as the course got more difficult, so did the scoring. Of the players in the top 10 after day one, eight went out in the morning wave to take advantage of the more benign conditions. Toward the end of the day some thunderstorms were near the course, but play was able to conclude for the entire field before severe weather forced a stoppage.

Webhannet, which sits a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean, opened for play in 1901. It has hosted numerous Maine golf championship events over the years, yet this marked the first time the Amateur had been contested there in the club’s long history.

Jones, Manuel, Ryan Gay, John Hayes, Mark Plummer and Andrew Slattery were the only former champions in the field this year.

This year saw a record 352 players attempt to qualify for a chance to compete in Maine golf’s longest running and most prestigious men’s amateur event. Competing at five sites in June across the state, 80 of those 352 players advanced to the championship proper via qualifying, joining 52 players who were otherwise exempt. The final field of 132 players come from all corners of the state, representing 12 of Maine’s 16 counties.

Any golfer who made the cut will be exempt from qualifying for the 2023 Maine Amateur Championship at Samoset Resort.

Additionally, the top 16 and ties will earn a berth in the 2022 Match Play Invitational Monday through Wednesday, Aug. 1-3 at Falmouth Country Club.

Fun Facts:

• The field is comprised of 132 players who represent 44 different golf clubs across Maine.

• Brunswick GC has the most players in the field with 13, followed by Biddeford-Saco CC (10), Val Halla GC (8) and Portland CC (7). Host club Webhannet GC has six players competing, tied with Falmouth CC and Martindale CC.

• Twelve of Maine’s 16 counties have at least one player in the field.

• There are two father/son duos in the field: Andy Spaulding and son, Elliot, and Jon Nicholson and son, Kyle. There is one set of brothers in the championship: Joe and Mike Walp, who coincidentally advanced via their qualifiers in a sudden-death playoff.

• The oldest player in the field is 13-time Maine Amateur Championship winner Mark Plummer at 70. He will compete the first two days paired with Jack Quinn, the youngest player in the field at 14. The average age for the field is 35.2.

• There are 30 players in the field with a handicap index of zero or better. The average handicap index for the field is 1.7.

• The field is made up of 132 players from the following 44 golf clubs, with the number of players from that club in parentheses: Augusta (5), Bangor Municipal (1), Barnes Brook (5), Barren View (2), Biddeford-Saco (10), Blue Hill (1), Bridgton Highlands (1), Brunswick (13), Cape Arundel (1), Deep Brook (2), Dunegrass (1), Dutch Elm (2), Falmouth (6), Fox Ridge (4), Goose River (1), Hermon Meadow (1), Hidden Meadows (1), Houlton (1), Kebo Valley (4), Maine Golf Center Freeport (1), Mars Hill (1), Martindale (6), The Meadows (1), Natanis (2), Nonesuch River (1), Norway (1), Penobscot Valley (3), Poland Spring (1), Portland (7), Presque Isle (1), Prouts Neck (2), Purpoodock (5), Riverside (1), Samoset (4), Sanford (1), Spring Meadows (2), Springbrook (1),Val Halla (8), Waterville (4), Wawenock (1), Webhannet (6), Willowdale (2), The Woodlands (4) and York (4).

Mike Doran of Maine State Golf Association contributed information to this story.