DOVER, N.H. — Following a summer of near-daily golfing - for fun, practice and competition - 15-year-old Cole Anderson, of Camden, Wednesday afternoon finished the two-day 2016 New England Junior Amateur Invitational as the low individual scorer after shooting an even par 70 in the final round, earning first-place silver.
In rounds one and two, Anderson tallied matching scores of 5-under 65, and finished the tournament at 10-under 200. The Invitational was held at Cochecho Country Club in Dover, N.H. The event features the top seven junior golfers from each of the six New England states.
The Maine team also did well, finishing fourth overall under Anderson's lead, according to Maine State Golf Association Executive Director Nancy Storey.
In addition to Anderson (home course, Samoset Resort), the Maine team included Ryan Collins (Purpoodock Club), Eric Dugas (JW Parks Golf Course), Austin Legge (Purpoodock Club), Caleb Manuel (Brunswick Golf Course), Lucas Roop (Sable Oaks Golf Course) and Logan Thompson (Barnes Brook Golf Course).
"This is a tournament that Maine has only won once before, in 2002, and the last time a Maine individual won - Seth Sweet of Madison - was about five years ago," said Storey. "Cole has represented the state so well, and we are very excited to see what he does as he continues playing."
Storey said that Anderson is not the youngest player golfing at this level for the state, but at 15, he has been impressive.
"Shooting 10 under is fabulous. You usually don't see a player shoot a 65, and then followup with another 65. You don't even see that in adults," said Storey. "He had a great Maine State Championship and now followed up so well. We want to see him keep playing with those good players at the Samoset."
Anderson's coach is Jeff Seavey, assistant golf professional and teaching professional at Samoset Resort. Seavey has been working with Anderson since he was 12 years old.
Seavey called Anderson "extremely driven, knowledgeable and intelligent about what he's doing on the golf course."
"He is also driven about his goals. He wants a Division 1 scholarship and he wants to play on tour. Those are big goals, not easy to do. But he is driven to do what it takes to get there, he is willing to work hard and put in the effort, and he is not afraid to go outside the box and try things he is not sure about," said Seavey.
Seavey said he has coached others, juniors and adults, who are unwilling to try new things. Often, he said, it's because they don't want to change where they are now, how they play today.
Seavey said it's an unwillingness or inability to look beyond today.
"Cole is willing to struggle right now, if he knows it will make him better in the long," said Seavey. "That's one of the things that impressed me from the beginning."
In addition to other club members, two of the recognizable "good players" that Anderson has been able to play against at the Samoset have been three-time Maine Amateur champion Ricky Jones of Thomaston, and professional Mack Duke of Alabama, who plays the Samoset in the summer.
Seavey said every time Anderson can play with other who are good, and better than him, those with strengths he lacks, he can learn from them.
"If he can watch and analyze and recognize what they do, not copy them, but watch how they deal with certain situations, like not getting rattled over a bad shot, if he can take it in and learn, it's a good thing," he said. "Cole wants to learn, he wants to absorb any bit of knowledge he can, and he is not afraid to apply what he learns to his own game."
Seavey said he has encouraged Anderson to play in other tournaments, including those that they know will help him achieve his goals. That includes not just teeing up against other juniors, but against other amateurs and professionals too.
All that experience, Seavey said, will help him in the long run, make him better able to recognize his own strengths and weaknesses and improve his game.
"Cole is very competitive, very driven. It is not a bad thing to be competitive. You have to understand you won't be great all the time. And I tell him, if you can accept some days you will have a bad day, and a bad day this year isn't as bad as a bad day last year, or a bad day in the past, then you're winning," said Seavey.
Anderson said Wednesday he was very excited and pleased to play well enough to win the tournament. He said the course Wednesday was a lot windier than Tuesday, with gusts up to 35 mph that made it a challenge. Tuesday's play was 36 holes, followed by 18 holes Wednesday.
He said that going into the second day, he had a six shot lead, and so was trying to "come in solid, not do anything special."
"I just needed to keep doing what I needed to do," said Anderson.
During each round, he said he was grouped with players from two different states. His final round on Tuesday saw him play with golfers from Team Vermont and Team New Hampshire.
One memorable shot from the tournament was an eagle he made on the last hole of the first round Tuesday. He said he was about 130 yards out, chipped the ball and it rolled right in.
"That was pretty cool," said Anderson.
Asked at what point he knew, or felt, he had a good shot at winning, Anderson said it was just at the start of the 16th hole today.
"Somebody came up to me and they said nobody in the field is better than one under and I was even, so I knew I at least had a five, maybe six-shot lead with two holes to go. At that point, I knew I had a pretty good shot at it," said Anderson.
When prodded, he said it would be take a pretty disaster on his part to flub up his lead at that point. "I would have had to be seven over the next three holes to give it up," he said.
Overall, Anderson said he is really excited to have won, that's it's been a long time coming.
"All summer, I have been putting myself in spots with realistic chances of winning, but I never really did it. But this time I went in with a good position today, and I didn't have to push too far. It is a good tournament to win for sure, a cool one to win, especially representing the state this way."
The Invitational features the top seven junior golfers from each of the six New England states.
The tournament rotates between those six states annually, and this year the New Hampshire Golf Association hosted the event. The event features both an individual champion at the end of 54 holes, and a team title. One of the six New England states will take home the team title, which counts the best five of seven scores from each round.
Team Massachusetts won the silver and were named Team Champions at 3-under 1,047, followed by Team Connecticut (32-over 1,082), Team Rhode Island (34-over 1,084), Team Maine (56-over 1,106), Team New Hampshire (58-over 1,108) and Team Vermont (68-over 1,118).
Maine team members finished as follows:
- (T28) Logan Thompson (18-over 228)
- (T40) Ryan Collins (33-over 243)
- (38) Eric Dugas (27-over 237)
- (31) Austin Legge (20-over 230)
- (T32) Lucas Roop (22-over 232)
- (T16) Caleb Manuel (10-over 220)
Anderson begins his sophomore year at Camden Hills Regional High School this fall. His home golf course is the Samoset Resort in Rockport.
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