It didn’t take 19-year-old Caleb Manuel long to make it known something special was going to happen at the seventh annual Downeast Metro Amateur Golf Tournament on Sunday at the Bangor Municipal Golf Course.
The Topsham native, who entered Sunday’s second round with a four-shot lead after he shot a 66 at the Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor on Saturday, drove the green on the 334-yard first hole at Bangor Muni.
He birdied the hole and capped a round of 8-under-par 63 with a six-foot eagle putt on 18 to shatter the tournament record by shooting a 129. Gavin Dugas held the previous record at 138.
“I definitely wanted to start out with a birdie because I knew there were easier holes coming in,” said Manuel who noted that his former Mount Ararat High School teammate Cade Charron, who plays golf at Bangor’s Husson University, had given him a scouting report on the first hole.
“And to finish with an eagle was special. My goal was to get to 129,” he said.
Manuel, who goes to the University of Connecticut and was the Big East Freshman of the Year this past spring and an All-Big East first team and All-Northeast Region selection, had seven birdies to go with his eagle and just one bogey on his round.
Thirty-three-year-old Jake Willis of Bar Harbor shot his second straight 72 to finish second at 144.
Michael Vanadestine and Charron tied for third at 145 and Mike O’Brien was fifth at 146.
Jason Clifford won the B flight with a 149; Justin Tapley captured the C flight with a 156 and the D flight winner was Ken Belcher with a 162. O’Brien won the seniors division.
A tournament record 175 golfers entered the Downeast-Metro.
Manuel displayed an exceptional short game highlighted by his pitch to within one foot to earn a birdie on the ninth hole. And he also putted extremely well. Even though he didn’t make a lot of long putts, his lag putts were impressive as he would leave himself two to four-foot putts for pars or birdies. And he made virtually all of them.
“I hit my (iron) shots reasonably close and I made putts when I needed to,” said Manuel, who won two state individual Class A championships at Mount Ararat and led his team to two state team titles.
He also said that it was an eight-foot putt on the 18th hole at Kebo Valley on Saturday that set the stage for Sunday’s performance.
“It was a slippery putt. It was on a ridge. I’d seen people three-putt (from there). It gave me a lot of momentum going into today,” Manuel said.
“It’s nice to get a win,” added the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Manuel.
He also said having his father, Patrick, serve as his caddy on Sunday “really helped.”
Fifty-six-year-old Chris Swan from Bar Harbor, who shot a 70 on Saturday but shot an 89 on Sunday, said Manuel’s game is “impeccable” and that he was a nice playing partner.
“He doesn’t make mistakes. He makes it too easy,” Swan said. “He’s very composed,”
Willis pointed out that he played the first three holes one shot better than Manuel on Sunday “but then he took me to school.”
“I was proud of the way I played. I was happy that I was able to put two good rounds together,” Willis said.
On Saturday, Manuel built his four-shot lead by posting birdies on three of the last four holes on the back nine.
He birdied the par-three 15th hole, par-four 16th and par-four 18th hole.
He had also birdied the 12th hole after registering his only bogey of the round on the 11th hole.
He shot a 3-under-par 33 on the back nine after a 1-under par 33 on the front nine courtesy of a birdie on the second hole.
Swan shot an even-par 34 on the front nine with a birdie and a bogey and was also even par on the back nine with a 36 with two birdies and two bogeys for a 70.