Jul. 21—FALMOUTH — Ruby Haylock's first Maine Women's Amateur Championship couldn't have been decided in more dramatic circumstances.
Her second was much less suspenseful.
The 17-year-old Haylock wrapped up her second Women's Amateur title in three years, shooting a 7-over 77 Thursday at Portland Country Club to finish with a three-round total of 9-over 219 and a seven-stroke margin over last year's champion, Bailey Plourde.
In 2020, Haylock chipped in for birdie on the first playoff hole to win. This week, however, she led from wire to wire.
"I'm happy that my hard work has shown off throughout all my years of golf," said Haylock, a Turner Highlands Country Club player who will play at Bates College in the fall. "I've been really dedicated to the sport. ... This just shows how hard I've been working, and it shows people that hard work pays off."
Plourde, of Sheepscot Links Golf Club, closed with an 80 and finished second at 16 over, while Erin Holmes of Val Halla Golf Course carded a 77, including a 1-under 34 on the front nine, and was third at 18 over.
Jordan Laplume of Dunegrass Golf Club and Thea Davis of Hermon Meadow Golf Club tied for fourth at 29 over.
Tears rimmed Plourde's eyes at the end of the final round. Back surgery in early March cast doubt over her ability to defend her title, but the 22-year-old played well enough for a sixth-straight top-two finish. She won the tournament in 2018 in addition to 2021.
"It's been a long four months," said Plourde, who before Thursday hadn't played three days in a row since her surgery. "I didn't know if I was going to be able to play this summer. Just being able to see everybody (was nice). It's just a good feeling to be able to finish, and play well."
Plourde put herself in position to challenge Haylock with a 69 in the second round that left her four shots back. But Haylock, a former Leavitt Area High School standout, didn't give Plourde much of a chance to close the gap. Haylock birdied the first hole with a long drive and an approach to within two feet of the pin, and she hit all seven fairways in a steady front nine.
"I was trying to get my tempo back today, because yesterday was all over the place," Haylock said. "I was focused on trying to slow down my swing and focused on just hitting it straight."
Haylock led by six strokes going into the back nine. She double bogeyed the 10th and made four straight bogeys on 12 through 15, but Plourde and Holmes also struggled during that stretch.
"I completely lost my focus," Haylock said. "The heat and the competition and having people watching, it gets to be a lot. Trying to keep that focus through three days of golf and the heat, it's not easy."
Plourde still had an outside chance with four holes to play, trailing by five, but she pulled her drive out of bounds on the 15th and then tweaked her back on a subsequent shot en route to a 9.
She finished with a flourish, however, parring 16 and 17 before birdieing the 18th.
"That felt really good," Plourde said. "I didn't really know what to expect. It was really nice that I was able to finish and finish well."
Haylock also finished in style, bouncing back from a double bogey on 17 with a birdie on 18 in front of a full gallery.
"I said to (caddy) Eli (Lind), 'I need a birdie on this hole, because a 78, all (due to) a back nine, isn't acceptable. I don't find that OK,'" Haylock said. "I ended up pulling it together for this one moment."
Holmes's 77 meant the Greely High graduate was one of two players, along with Haylock, to break 80 all three days. Holmes, 23, didn't play last year, taking the season off from competitive golf.
"I'm really proud of how I played. This is the best I've played in this event," said Holmes. "I'm really excited for next year. Maybe I'll play a little more beforehand."