Handley, Other Past Champions Lead Field For MGA Mid-Amateur
ELMSFORD, N.Y. (September 26, 2012) – With an elite field and a history of outstanding host venues, the MGA Mid-Amateur is one of the MGA’s most popular championships despite being one of its newest. The sixth playing of the championship, to be held October 2 and 3 at the Meadow Brook Club in Jericho, N.Y., features all four past winners of the event, including the defending champion, Niall Handley of Essex Fells.
Handley, 40, captured the title last year at Essex County Country Club, edging out Gregg Angelillo by one stroke. In order for him to become the second repeat winner of the championship, Handley will have to overcome a number of players, all aged 35 and older, who are hungry to add another MGA title to their records.
Included in this mix is the last man to win two consecutive MGA Mid-Amateurs, Dennis Lynch of Nassau Players. Lynch took the title in 2009 at The Creek and in 2010 at GlenArbor, and figures to be among the top contenders in the championship’s return to his native Long Island. The championship’s first two winners, Michael Reardon of Tuxedo (2007) and Greg Rohlf of Winged Foot (2008), hope to recapture their winning ways and put their name on the coveted Westmoreland Cup, named after longtime MGA Tournament Director Gene Westmoreland, for a second time.
Players earn invitations to the MGA Mid-Amateur through their play in designated MGA, Met Area, and national championships, and there is a special camaraderie among players who have been competing against each other for so many years. The championship is contested over 36 holes of stroke play; after the first round on Tuesday, October 2, the field will be cut to the low 40 and ties, who will return for the final round on Wednesday, October 3.
Though many MGA and Met Area championships are won by college-age (and younger) players these days, mid-amateurs have made their mark throughout the year and all are in the field at Meadow Brook. Michael Stamberger of Spring Lake, a member of the New Jersey team in this year’s USGA Men’s State Team Championship, had a close call at last year’s Mid-Am, finishing in third place. Al Small of Fairmount, who recently finished as the low amateur in the MGA Senior Open in August, qualified for this year’s U.S. Mid-Am. Small’s golf schedule was full of competition this summer, as he played in all of the MGA major championships this season. Another successful Met Area amateur, Ken Bakst of Friar’s Head captured the U.S. Mid-Amateur title in 1997 and placed in the top-10 at last year’s MGA Mid-Am.
Some of the Long Island favorites in the field are 2012 LIGA Mid-Amateur champion Bryan Pendrick of Nassau and a man who captured two titles in 2012, former Ike champion Ed Gibstein of Engineers. Gibstein won the Richardson Invitational and the LIGA Hebron Championship. Joining them is David Prowler of Bethpage State Park who made an appearance at the 2012 U.S. Senior Open in Michigan this past July.
Rounding out the other players to watch are 2010 MGA Mid-Am Runner-up Hans Albertsson of Hudson Hills and MGA Vice President Jeffrey Holzschuh of Stanwich. Albertsson qualified for both the Ike and Met Am, and Holzschuh is a former U.S. Mid-Am Competitor. Patrick Pierson of Minisceongo finished third at the Rockland County Amateur this year and placed in the top-20 at last year’s Mid-Am. Nick Desai of Baltusrol just recorded a second place finish at the Boff Invitational, held at Essex County Country Club, and had a strong finish last year at the Mid-Am, finishing fifth.
This will be the first MGA Mid-Amateur contested at the Meadow Brook Club, which is no stranger to major golf events. The highly regarded Dick Wilson design was the site of the two Met Opens (most recently in 2007), three Met Amateurs, and two Ike Championships. It was also the longtime host venue of the Northville Long Island Classic, a stop on the Senior PGA Tour.