KENNEBUNK – The reigning champion of the Maine Amateur may not have had the first round he had envisioned entering the week at Webhannet GC, but Caleb Manuel made a statement on day two, carding a bogey-free 63 in the second round to take the lead with 18 holes to play.

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The 20-year old Topsham resident and member at Brunswick GC made eight birdies against no bogeys on his second round to grab a two stroke lead after Wednesday’s round. He will look to become the third back-to-back champion in recent Maine Amateur history with a win tomorrow.

Starting on Webhannet’s 10th hole on the day, Manuel made birdies on 13, 14, 16, and 18 to make the turn at -4 on the day. The birdies didn’t stop there, as he went on a run in the middle of his second nine with four straight birdies from 5 to 8 to get to -8 on the day. Despite an opening 72, his second round was the lowest in recent Maine Am history and moved him to the top of the leaderboard.

Not to be forgotten is the leader from the first round, Mike Arsenault (Val Halla GC), who followed up his opening 68 with a score of 69. His two round total of 137 (-5) has him only two back of the lead entering tomorrow’s final round. Arsenault made four birdies on the day against just two bogeys to position himself only two back and in the same group as Manuel in Thursday’s final group.

Manuel and Arsenault will be joined in the final pairing by Ron Kelton, who won the Maine Mid-Amateur Championship last month at Waterville CC. Kelton fired 71 on his second round, and paired with his 70 on day one, he sits as the only other player under par after 36 holes of competition at one-under par.

On a warm and sunny day in Kennebunk, some players in the field took advantage of some fine scoring conditions. In all, nine players broke par on Wednesday, including Anthony Burnham (Purpoodock Club), who fired a bogey-free 66 to get back to even par. He will be joined by last year’s runner-up Will Kannegieser (Martindale CC) and Jeff Cole (Brunswick GC) in the penultimate pairing after both players shot 69 to get back to even par for the championship.

The field was cut to the low 40 players and ties after two days of competition, with the cut falling at 150 (+8). In all, 41 players advanced to the final round, and with the made cut will earn a berth in the 2023 Maine Amateur Championship at Samoset Resort next July.

Play for the final round on Thursday will commence at 7:30 a.m., with the leaders scheduled to tee off at 9:53 a.m.

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