Mark Mielke Wins 19th MGA Senior Open
ROSLYN, N.Y. (September 1, 2015) – Mark Mielke turned in the only even-par score in Tuesday’s final round of the 19th MGA Senior Open at the Engineers Country Club, as he tallied a 2-under 140 tournament total for a two-shot victory. Mielke, the only player to finish the 36-hole event under-par, now owns four career MGA titles, adding to his 1987 Public Links and 1992 and 2008 Met Open titles.
Two-time former champion Darrell Kestner of Deepdale and Paul Lejeune of Suburban finished at even-par for the championship to share second place.
The day began with 22 players within five shots of the lead, but the challenging final round—which played nearly a shot tougher than Monday’s 18—quickly spread out the field.
“The golf course got a lot firmer,” admitted Mielke, of Oyster Bay, N.Y. “You had a lot of putts that could get away from you so you had to be real cautious on the greens. The golf course played a lot tougher today, so I knew par was a good score on a lot of these holes.”
Though he had a conservative approach to the round, Mielke began his day strongly with a birdie on the first hole. He had three bogeys on the first nine, but also carded back-to-back birdies on the seventh and eighth holes to turn in even-par. After a string of pars, Mielke bogeyed the 15th, but bounced back with a birdie on the par-4 17th. He came up short on the par-4 18th, but displayed a fine touch with his pitch shot to get it close and convert the par.
Though the undulating and sloping greens of Engineers served as a challenge, Mielke credited his playing in last week’s 100th Met Open at Winged Foot as being a great preparation to this championship. “I think by playing last week at Winged Foot, it really helped me see a lot of the break and play some of the slope a little bit better,” he said. In addition to putting well, Mielke also pointed to his driving of the golf ball for his success, saying “I drove it pretty good. I didn’t get in much trouble with my driver.”
“It’s always special to get your names on a trophy,” Mielke said of his win, which made him the sixth person to claim Met Open and Senior Open titles. “There are a lot of great players—good friends of mine—that have their name on this, and to be part of it is pretty cool.”
Kestner carded a 1-over 72, while Lejeune shot 2-over as they shared second place honors. Kestner recorded four birdies on the day, but had five bogeys as well. Lejeune’s highlight came on the par-4 16th, where he holed out for an eagle two.
Frank Esposito Jr. and David Young of Sleepy Hollow finished with matching tournament totals of 143. Esposito, who was fresh off a tie for seventh in last week’s Champions Tour event, began his final round with three-consecutive bogeys, but played the remainder of his round in 1-under, birdieing the par-4 eighth. Young, who entered the final round with a share of the lead, also had a rough start to his round as he played the first two holes in 5-over-par. But, Young kept it steady the rest of the way, making four birdies to three bogeys.
Jim McGovern of White Beeches and Greg Baker of Rockaway River tied for sixth at 144, while Bruce Zabriski of Westchester claimed solo eighth at 145. Baker also entered the final round with a share of the lead, but played his final 12 holes in 5-over-par.
Professionals Jim Beadle of Essex Golf and Mark Yannotta of Anchor Golf Center, as well as amateurs Jay Sessa of Cherry Valley and Adam Kugler of Alpine, rounded out top-ten finishers, tying for ninth at 148. Kugler was seeking a repeat victory and entered the final round with a share of the lead, but did not register a birdie in the final round.
Engineers served as a quality host and provided a stern test for the 19th MGA Senior Open. The pristinely conditioned course demanded precision with approach shots and a skilled touch around the greens in order to score well. Despite playing as a medium length course in today’s standards, sloping and undulating greens provide a challenge.
Those finishing in the top 25 will now be exempt for the 20th MGA Senior Open, to be played at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Connecticut.