4-under 68 Propels Kestner to Senior Open Title
BRIDGEHAMPTON, N.Y. (September 26, 2019) – Firm, fast course conditions and a steady wind through the afternoon led to challenging scoring during the final round of the Long Island Senior Open Championship on Thursday at Atlantic Golf Club. Darrell Kestner of Deepdale was the exception, however, as the 66-year-old fired a 4-under 68 to post 2-under 142 and edge past champions Mark Brown of Tam O'Shanter and Charles Bolling of Bethpage State Park by one shot.
Just three players broke par during Thursday's final round, with the 36 players that made the cut averaging 79.5. While all aspects seemed to be firing for Kestner, he cited his putter as the key to victory.
"The perfect analysis is that yesterday all the putts lipped out, today they literally lipped in," said Kestner, who also won the Long Island Senior Open in 2016. "I love the true, fast greens that they have at Atlantic and my putter won the tournament for me."
After Wednesday's opening 74, Kestner entered the final round five shots off the lead. But, as the day unfolded he felt he had a shot if he could post a score early. "I just kind of kept plugging away," said Kestner. "I knew there were good players already under par, so I felt like I was starting too far back. But, as the day went on, the conditions kept getting harder and harder. So, I said let me just try to post a number and see what happens."
Playing 40 minutes ahead of the final group, Kestner did just that and watched the scores come in at the end. Bolling carded another one of the sub-par scores on the day, following his opening round 72 with a 71 to post 1-under 143. Overnight leader Mike Meehan of Old Westbury closed with a 3-over 75, while Brown and Scott Ford of Glen Oaks – who both shot opening round 70s to stand at 2-under – shot 73 and 74, respectively, leaving Kestner atop the leader board.
"It's persistence, it's course management, it's having control of the golf ball, it's club selection," said Kestner of his focus during windy conditions. "Sometimes it could be three or four different clubs of choice, so you have to hit it the right trajectory and I happened to get it pretty good for myself. It was a special day."
For Kestner, the victory adds to his success at Atlantic, where he's also claimed Met Open and Met PGA Championship titles. "To win it here at Atlantic, it's another special treat for me," said Kestner.
Meehan and Ford finished tied for fourth at even-par, one shot behind Brown and Bolling. Peter Procops of Lawrence (+4/148) and Jack Druga of Shinnecock (+5/149) finished sixth and seventh, while Atlantic's own Rick Hartmann shot 1-under 71 for the final sub-par score of the day to round out the top 10 alongside low amateurs Tom Trakoval and Alan Specht of Port Jefferson at 6-over 150.