MANCHESTER – Corey Poulin of Jackman had Mark Plummer of Manchester right where anyone would want him Friday afternoon, ahead by three holes with three to play in the 82nd Maine Amateur Golf Championship.
Plummer was the defending champion, though, and he was playing on his home course, Augusta Country Club.
Plummer won the next three holes to send the championship match to a sudden-death playoff, and finally pulled out his 12th Maine Amateur title when Poulin conceded the match on the second playoff hole.
The end came when Plummer stuck a 9-iron on the 170-yard downhill par-3 second hole 4 feet from the cup and pin-high right.
Poulin, who had missed the green long left the first time around, drilled his tee shot left again and even longer into the rough, under a big pine tree.
“I was a little jacked up,” said the 23-year-old Poulin, playing in his fifth Maine Amateur. “I wanted to make the shot, not wish the shot.
“I swung a little too hard, I think.”
Poulin had to try to hit a low liner under the tree, bounce it off a mound, pop it in the air, and have it settle somewhere near the pin.
He couldn’t hit the ball cleanly enough, though, and it stopped in the rough. He popped a high flop wedge near the pin, but it rolled 15 feet past. That’s when he conceded the hole, the match, and the tournament.
“I got farther than I thought I would,” said Poulin, adding, “My goal was to finish in the top 10.”
He almost took it all.
“Probably nerves kicked in,” said Poulin of his play on 16, 17, and 18. “This is the biggest tournament of my life.”
Plummer wasn’t too keen on his chances of coming back.
“I didn’t think I had enough left in the tank,” said Plummer, 49.
His thinking changed “when I made the putt on 17,” Plummer said.
Plummer, two down with two to go, had hit his tee shot in the back right bunker, and Poulin followed by hitting his over the green. Plummer, hitting first, blasted out and the ball stopped 5 feet past the hole. Poulin chipped his 20 feet past.
Poulin hit his par putt 4 feet past the hole, and Plummer won the hole when his putt rolled around the cup before finally dropping in.
“I thought maybe he was starting to feel [the pressure] a bit,” Plummer said. “And I got a little adrenaline going.”
Poulin tried for a little too much on 18, but drained a 9-foot putt for par and forced Plummer to sink his 6-foot birdie putt.
“I thought I had missed it to the right,” said Plummer. “It had enough speed that it ducked in the [right] side.”
Plummer was pumped up then.
“I had a new lease on life,” he said.
Plummer was as excited about winning this one as he was any of his others.
“This one was special,” he said. “It’s my last one before I turn 50. I say it kiddingly, but I probably don’t have a lot [of these] left.”
He still likes playing, though.
“Playing against these fresh new batches of kids each year is fun,” he said.
It may have been fun Friday, but it wasn’t necessarily pretty for either finalist.
“It was almost embarrassing this afternoon,” said Plummer.
Par was good enough to win most holes, and Poulin actually won the second hole the first time around with a double-bogey 5 when Plummer double-hit a chip shot en route to a 6.
Plummer won the par-5 fifth hole by three-putting for bogey after Poulin had tried to cut a fairway wood around some willows and pulled it across the fairway and into a water hazard instead.
Neither player made birdie until Plummer’s on 18. His second birdie, on No. 2, sealed the win.
“He makes the birdies when he needs to, he makes the shots when he needs to,” said Poulin.
It was the second long-distance match of the day for Plummer. He had to go 20 holes to beat Ricky Jones of Rockland Friday morning.
Jones was two down to Plummer after 14, then won three straight to go 1 up heading down 18.
In a preview of the final, Plummer birdied 18 in that one, too, to extend the match. They both birdied the first extra hole before Plummer won with a par on No. 2.
Poulin had it a little easier, beating Les Fleisher, playing out of The Woodlands in Falmouth, 5-and-4 in his semifinal match.
That put Poulin right where he wanted to be, he said.
“He’s actually who I wanted to play,” said Poulin. “I wanted to play the best, and he’s the best.”
Friday, he found out why.