Albertsson, Purcell Share First-Round Lead at MGA Mid-Amateur
JERICHO, N.Y. (October 2, 2012)– On a day where the weather conditions challenged everyone in the field, Kevin Purcell of Darlington and Hans Albertsson of Hudson Hills were able to manage their way around a rainy Meadow Brook Club and post terrific scores of 4-under 68 to share the lead after the first round of the 6th MGA Mid-Amateur Championship. Purcell and Albertsson will be paired together at the classic venue in Jericho, N.Y., in the final round on Wednesday morning.
Today’s first round included a brief 20-minute rain delay, with a downpour halting play at 3:55 p.m. before quickly moving out of the area, allowing play to resume at 4:15. Meadow Brook’s outstanding grounds maintenance staff, led by head superintendent John Carlone, did an excellent job keeping the greens and fairways playable.
Co-leader Purcell, who serves as the general manager of golf courses for Bergen County, N.J., flew out of the gates with birdies on three of his first four holes and had six birdies overall. Unlike Albertsson, Purcell’s morning tee time allowed him to play in nearly rain-free conditions.
“I started off pretty well,” Purcell said. “I was just happy to put together a good round today. The golf course conditions were perfect. I had never been here before and everyone told me how magnificent it is, and it lived up to every expectation.”
Despite playing his entire round in a steady afternoon drizzle, Albertsson, the 2010 MGA Mid-Amateur runner-up, feasted on the front nine, recording five birdies and making the turn at 4-under 32.
“I had a very good ball striking day and the greens were quite receptive,” he said. “I was able to roll in some nice putts from 15 to 20 feet. I made some scrappy pars during the middle of the round, but overall I drove it well and gave myself plenty of opportunities.”
Albertsson credited his caddie, who gave him conservative targets off the tee and was able to keep his clubs and grips as dry as possible. The rain began around noon and, while it was off and on for most of the day, didn’t truly let up until 5:30 p.m. A total of 41 players made the cut of 77 (plus-5).
Four players out of the starting field of 88 finished under par, among them Dan Goldstein of Wheatley Hills, who is two shots back of the lead heading into the final round after a 70. Goldstein made the turn after a bogeyless 1-under 35 on the front nine and a more adventurous 35 on the back, which included a double bogey and three birdies. The other player to finish in red numbers is 2008 MGA Mid-Amateur champion Greg Rohlf of Winged Foot, who is three back after a 1-under 71.
“I didn’t have a lot of expectations today, so I just plodded along and kept the ball in play,” said Rohlf, who is also a two-time (2007 and 1999) Met Amateur champion. “And the conditions were actually fine, because it was consistent all day so we knew what we were getting. It wasn’t like we had to take rain pants on an off. I really just slow it down in conditions like this and concentrate more, so it actually kind of helps me.”
Also within striking distance of the lead at even-par 72 are Nick Desai of Baltusrol and Ken Bakst of Friar’s Head. Bakst, the 1996 Ike and 1997 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, has a good record in the MGA Mid-Amateur, finishing in the top six in three of the last four years.
A large group of nine players are tied for seventh place at 1-over-par 73 and will look to make a run up the leader board in tomorrow’s second round. Among them are 2003 Met Amateur champion Mike Stamberger of Plainfield, WGA Mid-Am champion Michael Karger of Century, 2010 MGA Senior Amateur champion Al Small of Fairmount, Jon Doppelt of Fresh Meadow, and 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur competitor Jeff Holzschuh of Stanwich. Defending champion Niall Handley of Essex Fells is six shots back after an opening round 74.
Wednesday’s final round will begin at 9:30 a.m. and players will go off in groups of two from the first and tenth tees as they attempt to have their name engraved on the Westmoreland Cup, named after former MGA Tournament Director Gene Westmoreland. Live scoring will be provided for approximately the final five groups. For full coverage of the MGA Mid-Amateur, including photos, videos, results and scoring, visit mgagolf.org, the My MGA mobile app, and the MGA’s Facebook and Twitter pages.