Topsham’s Caleb Manuel has already had some success at the Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor this summer.
He would love to have even more this week.
The 19-year-old, who won the seventh annual Downeast Metro Golf Tournament at Kebo last month, is one of 132 golfers vying for the Maine Amateur Golf Tournament title beginning Tuesday at the Bar Harbor golf course.
The 102nd annual tournament, a 54-hole event, is being held at the state’s oldest golf course for the eighth time and the first since 2010.
“It helps to have played [Kebo] before and I played well there,” Manuel said. “I’m just going to stick to the game plan.”
The course will be in a little different shape than it was last month.
Peiter DeVos, the Kebo Valley golf pro, said the course has received 5 inches of rain over the past 10 days.
“The greens and the fairways are more receptive but the rough is thicker. You’re going to want to keep the ball in the fairway,” he said. “It’s going to be a good test.”
Several of the golfers were scheduled to play a practice round on Monday including Manuel, one of the tournament favorites.
As a freshman at the University of Connecticut this past spring, Manuel was selected the Big East Rookie of the Year and a member of the All-Big East first team as he led the Huskies to the Big East title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
This will be his fourth Maine Amateur and it is a tournament he always looks forward to.
“It’s definitely a treat every year to match up against the best golfers in the state,” he said. “I’ll have a little more confidence this year.”
The course will present some challenges in addition to the thick rough.
“Some of the greens are tricky. You have to stay focused for all 18 holes,” Manuel said.
He added that it is a course that you can be aggressive on, but there are times you also need to be conservative and make smart shots that are well-placed to avoid making a bogey.
He knows he is one of the favorites and admitted that he is capable of winning it. He said he isn’t going to let high expectations put extra pressure on him.
“I’m going to have fun,” said Manuel, who recently played in a tournament in New York that involved some of the best college players in the country.
Manuel will be in the lead group at 7 a.m. on Tuesday with John Hayes IV from the Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth, and Minot’s Will Kannegieser.
Hayes won the 2015 Maine Amateur. The other former winners in the field are three-time winners Ryan Gay from the Augusta Country Club (2008, ’10 and ’11), Ricky Jones from the Samoset Resort in Rockport (2003, ’04 and ’13) and Andrew Slattery from the Portland Country Club (2014).
Cole Anderson from Camden, who plays at Florida State, won’t defend last year’s title because he is playing in the Southern Amateur in Mississippi.