Glen Oaks Club set to host highly anticipated 101st Met Open
ELMSFORD, N.Y. (August 17, 2016) – Another incredible field has been assembled for the Met Area’s premier championship, as the region’s best golfers will take on the immaculate Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, N.Y., August 22-24 in the 101st Met Open Championship. Rave reviews following Glen Oaks’ renovation that was completed in 2014, plus the use of a composite course that will host the world’s best in the PGA TOUR’s 2017 FedExCup Playoffs provide the 147 competitors with one of the most highly anticipated Met Open venues in recent years. With an outstanding mix of proven champions and rising stars in both the professional and amateur ranks, the battle for the prestigious Walker L. Trammel Trophy is sure to add another thrilling page to the record books of the nation’s third-oldest open championship.
A total of 19 past champions are in the field, including the winner from each of the last 11 years, with 100th Met Open titlist Ben Polland of Deepdale aiming to become the first player to win back-to-back titles since Johnson Wagner in 2001 and 2002. By finishing tied for 13th at the PGA Professional Championship, the 26-year old earned his second straight appearance in the PGA Championship, and is coming off a third place finish at the Metropolitan Professional Championship. Polland has also made six starts on the Mackenzie Tour (PGA TOUR Canada) this season, playing for a seventh time this week.
Meanwhile, 2011 champion and 2015 runner-up Tyler Hall of Upper Montclair is one of several past champions with quality performances this season and would like nothing less than to add his name to the MGA annals once again. Hall, 34, became the first repeat champion of the NJSGA Open Championship in 20 years, firing a three-day total of 15-under 198 in mid-July for a runaway seven-stroke victory at Galloping Hill. Two-time winner Mark Brown of Tam O’Shanter has also shown top form this season, as a runner-up finish in the PGA Professional Championship sent him to the year’s final major at Baltusrol. Brown would love a similar result to that of 2013, when the Met Open was last played on Long Island and Brown claimed the title just down the road at Old Westbury. George Zahringer III of Deepdale, the 1985 victor, has already had success on Long Island this year, as he claimed his record 17th MGA title with his second straight win at the MGA Senior Amateur at Huntington Country Club.
Additional past champions in the field include Danny Balin of Burning Tree (2012), who is teeing it up on the Web.com Tour this week; Bob Rittberger of Garden City Golf Club (’10); Andrew Giuliani of Trump National – Westchester (2009), who has begun the process of regaining his amateur status; Frank Bensel of Century (’07); reigning MGA Senior Open champion Mark Mielke (’92, ’08); John Guyton of Wheatley Hills (’06); John Stoltz of Osiris (’05); Mike Gilmore of Winged Foot (2000); Mike Burke of Montammy (’97); Darrell Kestner of Deepdale (’82, ’83, ’95); Mike Diffley of Pelham (’91); Bobby Heins of Old Oaks (’88, ’89); Jim McGovern of White Beeches (’87); David Glenz of Black Oak (’78, ’86); and Bill Britton of Trump National – Colts Neck (’79), who recently competed in the U.S. Senior Open.
Matt Dobyns of Fresh Meadow, Brian Gaffney of Quaker Ridge, and Rob Labritz of GlenArbor headline the list of professionals that are highly capable of claiming their first Met Open title at the 101st playing. The trio competed in the PGA Championship thanks to strong performances in the PGA Professional Championship, as Dobyns finished tied for seventh, and Gaffney and Labritz tied for 13th. Though Labritz has already produced an outstanding season that includes wins at the Westchester PGA Championship, the Westchester Open, the New York State Open and the Metropolitan Professional Championship, he’d certainly like his stable of wins to also include the Met Open—the one major Met Area title that has alluded Labritz throughout his illustrious career. His best finish in the championship came in 2002, when he was the runner-up to Wagner on Winged Foot’s West Course. Dobyns and Gaffney have both finished second to Labritz this season, Dobyns at the New York State Open and Gaffney at the Metropolitan Professional Championship. Brett Jones of Due Process, Steve Scott of Paramount, and Alex Beach of The Ridgewood Country Club are additional professionals to keep an eye on, while Glen Oaks’ very own head professional Tim Shifflett and assistant Scott Ford will look to use their local knowledge around their home course.
The Met Open champion will be crowned following 54 holes of stroke play, in which a cut will be made to the low 60 scores (and ties) after 36 holes. The event was first played in 1905 at the now defunct Fox Hills Golf Club on Staten Island and developed into a major championship prior to World War II, featuring top competitors from around the country. Following WWII, the Met Open has thrived as a regional championship and produced an iconic list of champions.
Kevin Foley of Neshanic Valley and two-time MGA Player of the Year Mike Miller of Knollwood, who both competed in this year’s U.S. Open at Oakmont, lead a group of accomplished competitors making a return to the Met Open with experience on professional tours. Foley, the 2008 MGA Ike champion who has recently competed on the Web.com Tour, is making his first Met Open start since 2011, while Miller, who competed on the Mackenzie Tour last summer and has mixed in both Mackenzie and Web.com Tour starts this season, last played in the Met Open in 2013 when he finished third. Former Met Am champion Ryan McCormick of Suburban and 2014 MGA Player of the Year David Pastore of Fairview—who’ve also competed on the Mackenzie Tour—will both play in the Met Open as professionals for the first time, having last appeared in the event as amateurs in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Two more Mackenzie-Tour experienced competitors returning to the Met Open are 2013 MGA Player of the Year Max Buckley of Westchester, and two-time Ike champion Mike Ballo, Jr., of Woodway. Frank Esposito, Jr., of Forsgate is yet another competitor with professional tour experience, having competed on the Champions Tour last season. He has made starts in the Senior PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open this season.
Seven amateurs have claimed the Met Open championship through the years and this year’s field has a host of competitors that could move that number to eight. Leading the way is 2015 MGA Player of the Year Cameron Young of Sleepy Hollow, who became the 10th player to successfully defend his title at the Ike Championship, doing so in a thrilling playoff over Peter Kim of Royce Brook. Young, one of seven former MGA players of the year in the field, is competing in the U.S. Amateur this week and advanced to match play for the third consecutive year. The 19-year old finished tied for fifth at last year’s Met Open, claiming low amateur honors. After a special, record-setting performance en route to the Met Amateur Championship title, Stewart Hagestad of Deepdale is looking forward to his first Met Open competition. The native Californian, playing his second season in the Met Area, has logged impressive finishes since his arrival and hopes to do the same in the MGA’s premiere championship. This week, Hagestad is competing in his seventh U.S. Amateur.
The list of amateurs that will challenge for a top finish continues with current MGA Player of the Year points leader Trevor Randolph of Arcola. The reigning MGA Mid-Am champion, has claimed victories at the NJSGA Mid-Am, the Travis Memorial and Hochster Memorial this season. U.S. Amateur and upcoming U.S. Mid-Am participant Darin Goldstein of Noyac, 16-year old Carter Cup champion and Met Am runner-up Ethan Ng of Fiddler’s Elbow, Brian Komline of Black Oak, Mike Stamberger of Spring Lake and MGA eClub – New Jersey member Luke Graboyes are all inside the top 10 of the current player of the year listing and aim to improve their standings.
After deciding to undergo a thorough renovation, Glen Oaks brought on golf course superintendent Craig Currier of Bethpage State Park, whose resume also includes work at Augusta National. The transformation brought on by Currier and architect Joel Weiman has been nothing short of incredible, leaving Glen Oaks’ 27-hole layout with a pristine “August-like” look. Its key alterations include new expansive views following an extensive tree removal program; enlarged, contoured green complexes; flowing, bright white bunkering; and flawless conditions.
Glen Oaks was recognized as the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association’s 2015 Club of the Year and last summer the PGA TOUR announced it would add the club to the rotation for the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs, which features the top 125 players in the FedExCup Standings. While the world’s best will surely be in for a treat in 2017, the Met Area’s best will be the first to face the championship composite course, which will use Nos. 1-3 and 6-9 on the White Course, Nos. 4 and 5 on the Red Course and the entire Blue Course nine.
The MGA will provide live scoring throughout the three-day event, including live updates during the first and second rounds and hole-by-hole scoring for the majority of the field in Wednesday’s final round. Additional coverage can be found on the MGA’s social media outlets, including Facebook and Instagram, while extensive looks at the championship will be available on Twitter (@MGA1897), snapchat (mgagolf1897) and the Periscope App (available through Twitter).