Coleman leads 90th MGA Senior Am
CHATHAM, N.J. (May 2, 2017) – Marc Coleman of Nassau Players Club recorded the only sub-par score in Tuesday’s opening round of the 90th MGA Senior Amateur Championship at Fairmount Country Club and will take a two-shot lead into Wednesday’s final round.
Jim Craffey Jr. of Arcola carded a one-over 73, while six competitors including a trio of past champions in George Zahringer III of Deepdale, Jay Blumenfeld of Mountain Ridge and Fairmount’s very own Allan Small, tallied opening round 74s to be well within reach.
Coleman, who turned 55 last August and is competing in his first senior event, credited a steady driver and a strong scrambling game for his one-under 71. “I kept it in play today, all round,” he remarked. Two of Coleman’s four birdies during the round came on par-threes, while he also chipped in for birdie on the par-five 11th. Playing in the first group of the day, Coleman took advantage of the relatively calm conditions early in the morning before the wind began to pick up just before noon. “The last few holes, it was a problem,” Coleman stated of the wind, which blew at around 20 miles-per-hour throughout the afternoon. “On 18, the water is a 240-yard carry. I crushed it and barely got over.”
Craffey made the turn at three-over, but posted four birdies on his inward nine, including three consecutive on Nos. 15-17.
Two-time defending champion Zahringer, two-time winner Blumenfeld, and 2009 champion Small are a formidable trio just three shots back. Zahringer is looking to become the first player to claim the title three consecutive years since J. Wolcott Brown in 1967-69. Blumenfeld is also eyeing his third title, while Small hopes to use his years of experience at Fairmount to rise to the top.
“Fairmount is Fairmount,” said Small, who moved to Georgia during the winter but has a long history at Fairmount having won more than 30 combined club championships in stroke and match play. “It’s about the greens and keeping it in play.”
“The front nine was good—pretty easy,” said Small of his round. “I shot one-over there, then shot one-over on the back nine when the wind picked up, so there were some good shots played back there.” The par-five 11th was also a highlight for Small, who eagled the hole to return to even par for the round. Bogeys on Nos. 14 and 18 led to his 74. “I just want to be in the hunt and have a chance,” said Small. “You never know what could happen.”
Also three shots back are Mark Pittenger of Suburban, James Kienz of Stony Ford and Steve Doh of Haworth.
Randy Riley of Baltusrol (75), Herrol Pryce of Baychester (76) and Jay Sessa (76) of Gardiners Bay recorded the afternoon’s low scores while battling the windy conditions.
Following Tuesday’s opening round a cut was made to the top 40 competitors and ties, with 50 players advancing with scores of 80 or better.
Wednesday’s final round will begin at 8:00 a.m., with the final pairing of Coleman and Craffey teeing off at 9:36 a.m.