ORONO – Scott Dewitt of Biddeford faced a daunting task Thursday in the quarterfinal round of the 84th Maine Amateur Golf Championship at Penobscot Valley Country Club.
Dewitt was relieved, however, “to be able to come out ahead over the best player to ever come out of the state.”
Dewitt dethroned three-time defending champion Mark Plummer of Manchester 1 up in their quarterfinal match and advanced to this morning’s semifinal round against former PVCC club champion Jay Livingston, who is in the process of moving from Hermon to Kennebunkport.
Livingston rolled over John Bauman of Kennebunk 4 and 3 (four holes up with three to play).
Also advancing to the semifinals were Ricky Jones of Thomaston and Corey Pion of Bangor.
Jones held off Mike Norris of Newburgh 2 up in their quarterfinal contest, and Pion ousted 16-year-old golf phenom Jesse Speirs of Bangor 4 and 2.
Dewitt and Livingston will tee off in a semifinal match today at 8 a.m. followed by the Jones-Pion matchup 15 minutes later. The two winners square off at noon.
Pion, who led Husson College of Bangor to the NAIA golf national championships, traded the lead with Speirs early on, but took it for good after Speirs pulled his tee shot on the fifth hole into the left trees. Speirs ended up conceding the hole.
They halved the next four holes, but Pion posted back-to-back wins on 10 and 11 to push the margin to three holes.
“It’s nice to take a couple [holes] lead in a match,” said Pion. “It’s hard to come back.”
He matched Speirs on each of the next four holes before wrapping up the win on 16.
“It’s … good to keep momentum on your side and force them to keep hitting good shots,” said Pion.
Jones, the 2001 Paul Bunyan Amateur Golf Tournament champion, was three holes up on Norris, the 1999 Bunyan winner, after the first nine holes.
Jones missed an opportunity to stretch it to four on the 10th hole, and Norris cut it to two by winning 11.
“I missed a short [putt] on 11,” said Jones. “I made a real bad stroke at the putt.
“You don’t want to admit the pressure is getting to you, but when you miss a short one, the next time you have one the same length, the hole seems to get smaller and smaller.”
Norris cut the lead to win with a birdie on 14, but he couldn’t get back to even.
“I thought I had a chance [on the par-5 15th],” said Norris. “When he hit his approach shot to the right [rough], I just tried to hit mine to the center of the green.”
Instead, his also went into the right rough, and they both made pars.
“I thought that’s where I blew it,” said Norris.
“It’s just a different mindset to play match play,” he added. “Some guys love it, some don’t, and I’m one of those guys that don’t.”
Livingston, runner-up to Jones in the 2001 Bunyan, took a three-hole lead after nine holes, also, and held onto his lead until winning the 15th hole to end the match.
Dewitt felt fortunate to defeat Plummer, who has won this event 13 times overall.
“The key,” said Dewitt of his match with Plummer, “[was] not giving up.”
Plummer also won the first two holes to jump out to a quick lead.
“When you bogey the first two holes, against anybody, not just Mark,” it’s tough to come back, said Dewitt.
Dewitt birdied the fourth hole to cut the lead to one hole and kept it that way until Plummer won the ninth hole to go two ahead again.
Dewitt birdied 10 to cut the lead in half again, and Plummer bogeyed 13 and 14, allowing Dewitt to take the lead for the first time.
“Then as is his style, he came right back with a perfect drive on 15 [a par 5],” said Dewitt. “I knew he would.”
Plummer won both 15 and 16 to retake the lead.
“It was definitely a rollercoaster on the back nine,” said Dewitt, who evened the match on the next hole.
“I feel as though I was fortunate to birdie 17 for the third time in a row,” said Dewitt.
Plummer ran into trouble on the last hole when he hit his tee shot into the rough behind a small tree.
“I tried to hit over it, but I hit it thin,” said Plummer. The ball hit the tree and ricocheted left into the 10th fairway.
Plummer made bogey, and Dewitt won when he parred the hole.
“It’s almost a relief [to have his string of Maine Amateur wins broken],” said Plummer. “I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I can enjoy the summer.”