LeFante, Pastore Headline Field for MGA/MetLife Public Links
ELMSFORD, N.Y. (July 6, 2012) – On Thursday, July 12, 62 of the Met Area’s top public links players will arrive at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y. to compete in the 65th MGA/MetLife Public Links Championship on the famed Black Course. It is the eighth time that the Met Area’s most famous public facility is hosting this one-day, 36-hole stroke play championship, and the field is dense with excellent players looking to challenge one of the toughest courses in golf.
Among the top contenders in the field is Eric LeFante of MGA eClub - New Jersey, who placed second in last year’s championship. After finishing the day tied for the lead with Anthony Aloi at 4-under-par 140, the two friends dueled it out in a sudden-death playoff. LeFante fell to Aloi on the first hole, but he returns to the field this year to try and take home the title himself. Aloi qualified for next week’s New Jersey State Open and will not be at Bethpage to defend his 2011 title.
Last year’s MGA/MetLife Public Links Championship was held at Hominy Hill Golf Course, and three players who placed third will be at Bethpage to see if they have what it takes to become the champion. Max Bischsel of Neshanic Valley, Xander McDonald-Smith of Marine Park, and Marc Kunesch of Rolling Green were exempt through sectional qualifying due to their strong showings in 2011. McDonald-Smith and Bischel just competed in the Ike Championship at Atlantic, and Kunesch recently wrapped up his junior year of competitive golf at Seton Hall University.
Another big threat to emerge as Public Links champion is David Pastore of Griff Harris, the 2010 Carter Cup and two-time Met Junior champion. Pastore was a quarterfinalist at last year’s Met Amateur at Piping Rock, and he ventures back to Long Island with hopes of adding a fourth MGA title to his collection.
With Bethpage Black as the championship host site, the MGA saw a near-record entry for this year’s Public Links, and five sectional qualifying rounds were held throughout the Met Area to determine the final members of the field. Kevin Purcell of Darlington and Don Demichino of Sunset Valley played through a rainy qualifier at Darlington in Mahwah, N.J., last month to share medalist honors and qualify for the championship. Colby Lewis of Mansion Ridge, who plays for SUNY Rockland, had an impressive 2-under 70 to hold the low score of the day at the Blue Hill qualifier. Jonathan Renza of Mohansic, a rising junior on the Rutgers golf team, earned his qualifying spot when he was the solo medalist at a qualifier at his home course. Bethpage State Park regular Jonathan Feuer finished with the low score of the day in June at Tallgrass, allowing the Manhattan College junior to tackle his home course in a competitive setting. Among the players to qualify at Van Cortlandt Golf Course in the Bronx was Matthew Demeo of Hamlet Wind Watch, who won the Havemeyer Invitational in May at Southward Ho. Demeo is currently 11th on the Polo Golf MGA Player of the Year Points Standings, the highest rank of any player in the field.
The MGA/MetLife Public Links Championship dates back to 1936, when Hendricks Field Golf Course hosted the first championship. After ten years of no competitions between 1973 and 1983, the MGA reinstated the event and joined with MetLife to host the championship at some of the nation’s most prestigious public courses. Bethpage Black is no stranger to hosting both local and national championships. The course, which will host the PGA Tour’s Barclays in late August, was the site of the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens, and has hosted seven previous MGA/MetLife Public Links Championships as well as five other MGA events. The MGA is excited to return once again to Bethpage Black, as the course provides an excellent and challenging venue for the 36-hole stroke play championship.