Amateur golf

Anderson swings to second American Junior Golf Association’s Coca-Cola Junior Championship

Camden Hills senior notches another impressive win on his golf belt
By Mark Haskell | Aug 09, 2018
Courtesy of: Anderson family With the Sugarloaf course as a backdrop, Cole Anderson holds his American Junior Golf Association’s Coca-Cola Junior Championships award.

Carrabassett Valley — What can one state about golfer Cole Anderson of Camden — with regards to his play on the links — that has not been said or written?

Anderson, about to begin his senior year at Camden Hills Regional High School, has a list of accolades so long at the age of 17 that golfers who have played as long as he has been alive would be as green with envy as the greens he aims to hit.

And now, Anderson can put another feather in his cap after he shook off a tough first day at the American Junior Golf Association’s Coca-Cola Junior Championships, held Tuesday through Thursday, Aug. 7-9 at the Sugarloaf Golf Club.

Anderson fired a 3-under par over the final two days of the event and held on over the final few holes to shoot an even-par 216 (75-70-71) to win the coveted crown for the second straight year.

Last year, Anderson finished at 218 (70-73-75) to also win the event.

Stephen Campbell Jr. of Richmond, Texas finished second at 218 (71-70-77), while Kiko Francisco Coelho of Lisbon, Portugal finished third at 223 (77-72-74).

On day one, Anderson shot 3-over par 75. He was two-under on the front nine before, ultimately, he gave back five shots on the back, including three straight bogeys followed by a triple-bogey on the 370-yard, par-4 14th hole.

“The first round I just had some mental mistakes,” Anderson said. “I just kind of let my focus dwindle, and you can’t really do that at Sugarloaf. I was kind of lucky to get it in with what I did. Three-over was a small miracle given my lack of focus on the back nine. But I kind of regrouped and played very nicely basically from then on in.”

“I just was trying to focus on the mental side of things, and that was my priority for the second two days. Just getting my mind right.”

While he bogeyed four holes, along with the triple-bogey, on the back nine on day one, Anderson carded only five more bogeys over the final 36 holes of the tournament — along with eight birdies (and 12 overall) — as he battled toward the top spot.

On day two, Anderson carded a 2-under par 70 (4 birdies, 2 bogeys, 12 pars) and ended his run on day three with a 1-under par 71 (4 birdies, 3 bogeys, 11 pars) to close out the tournament.

Anderson birdied the 381-yard, par-4 18th hole, to pad his narrow lead over Campbell.

Anderson said, despite his rocky start, he confidence did not waver.

“I knew at Sugarloaf it’s really hard to string together three very good, under-par rounds in a row,” he said. “So I figured if I could get something under par [the last two days], I’d have a good shot at it. Luckily it was enough to do it.”

Ninety-six golfers participated in the event, as 52 made the cut at the end of day two to qualify for the final round.

Anderson said he enjoys Sugarloaf, one of the more beautiful, albeit challenging, courses in the state.

And a layout not for the faint of heart.

“It’s on the side of a mountain, which is sort of rare for golf courses,” he said. “You don’t see that a lot. And it’s pretty exposed. Normally when you have courses in the woods like that they’re kind of sheltered, but the wind just whips around there. The wind just does circles around there. It could be going downwind on two holes that run opposite directions. It’s not consistent, so it’s really tough to read. It’s narrow off the tee, the greens are slopey and if you miss a fairway you’re basically in the woods. There’s not a lot of rough.”

“You just have to be patient. You’re not going to get a ton of birdies, and you just have to minimize your mistakes.”

Campbell was second after the first day of the tournament with a 71 — trailing at that point only Caleb Manuel of Topsham — who fired 70. Anderson was in a four-way tie for 13th after day one.

But Campbell took the lead after day two when he carded 70 to stand at 3-under par (141) for the tournament.

By the end of day two, Anderson overtook Manuel and was only four shots off the lead (145).

The 52 remaining players were repaired for the final round, which Anderson played with Campbell Jr. and Manuel — the top three players after two rounds.

And while Anderson was cool, calm and collect on the final day of the competition, Campbell faltered down the stretch as he, in essence, replicated Anderson’s forgettable day one by collecting four bogeys and a triple-bogey on the 387-yard par-4 fifth hole.

Anderson said, "Some people would tell you you’re not supposed to pay attention to the other people in your group, but in my opinion, if you’re in the final group, you’re sort of basing your strategy off what those guys are doing."

“We got caught on [hole] 5 right in the middle of a borderline monsoon,” he said. “The wind was blowing and it was pouring rain. He had a bad second shot, and then his bunker shot flew over the green and kicked into the hazard. Those were kind of tough circumstances.”

Anderson played conservatively and parred the hole and saw his four-stroke deficit become a one-stroke lead. He added that Campbell's bad hole was not quite like Anderson's on day one and that "I was really impressed by his mental game."

“He could have folded easily [after that]," Anderson said of Campbell. "He stayed very in the moment and he gave me a serious run on the back [nine]. He stayed right there and played really solid, it was just the exception of those few holes he made bogey on.”

Anderson, who is committed to play college golf at Florida State University in the fall of 2019, is the three-time Maine Principals’ Association state Class A schoolboy golf champion and last year qualified for the U.S. Amateur Golf Tournament, only a few of dozens of impressive golf accolades.

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