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Rob Labritz Leads at Met Open

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (August 19, 2014) – After the first round of the 99th Met Open Championship at Trump National  - Bedminster, the leaderboard is stacked with top players all looking to take the trophy home with them after the final round on Thursday.

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Rob Labritz of GlenArbor shot a 4-under 68 on the Old Course to claim the first-round lead. It was a nice vacation last week that seemed to relax the Director of Golf at GlenArbor headed into his round today.

“I took last week off and had a nice vacation with my family on the Cape,” Labritz said. “It really helped and it was nice to get back here [this week], I really wanted to play.” Labritz praised the course conditions and credited his putting on the greens to his great round today. After breaking his driver shaft at the Westchester Open, he implemented a replacement this week that didn’t seem to get the job done. “I’m trying to find it a little bit with the driver, which is one of my fortes unfortunately,” he said. “I found some good strikes on the back nine, got some greens, and rolled in some putts.” Labritz had three birdies and two bogeys on the front, but it was the back nine that he talked about that he got it going. He had three birdies and no bogeys on the back for a stunning 33 that earned him the first-round lead. Tomorrow he just needs more of the same. “I have to keep playing the same way, nothing crazy, if I can continue this it should be a great week,” Labritz said.

2013 Met Open runner-up and now professional Cameron Wilson of Shorehaven carded a 3-under 69 to find himself in familiar territory at the top of an MGA leaderboard. The recent Stanford graduate and NCAA individual champion could have gone super low, but a 36 on the back nine (his front) that featured a double-bogey and a bogey on the par 5 18th halted a round that could have got him the lead. The newly turned pro will definitely take the 3-under into tomorrow where it should only get more difficult on the Old Course.

Amateur Harrison Shih of Alpine held the clubhouse lead after the morning wave with his 3-under 69. After a sluggish start, the Columbia University golfer settled down and put up a great round. “I made a sloppy bogey on 11 (started on the 10th),” Shih said. “I three-putted from the fringe for a bogey, but other than that I got the most out of my round.” After the bogey on 11 he made two straight birdies on 14 and 15 and then added three more birdies and one bogey on his back nine. “I drove it better today and I putted a little bit better than I have this summer, and that made the difference in the score” the 20-year-old said. The confident Shih wants to just stay the course heading into the second round. “I’ve got to just stick to my game plan,” he said. ‘”The mentality doesn’t really change after a good solid first score today.”

Grant Sturgeon of Winged Foot, 2004 MGA/MetLife Boys champion Sunny Kim of Bethpage, and Frank Esposito of Brooklake all came in at 2-under 70. Esposito, who just returned from a trip to Valhalla for the PGA Championship, continues his consistent play and finds himself at the top of yet another leaderboard. The Head Pro at Brooklake credits all his recent success to the mental game. “I don’t know, I’m just a little bit more focused,” Esposito said. “I’ve been working on certain things mentally and just kind of plugging along.”  

Right in the mix going into Wednesday’s second round are seven players who shared scores of 1-under 71. Anthony Aruta of Staten Island Practice Center, P.J. Cowan of Eisenhower, Brian Gaffney of Quaker Ridge, Brett Jones of Mountain Ridge, 2006 winner John Guyton of Wheatley Hills, Mike Ballo of Woodway, and Brian Lamberti of Richter Park all had under par rounds. Aruta’s round included a hole-in-one on the par 3, 180 yard 16th hole this morning.

Four strokes behind the leader are nine other players who have the chance to catch the leader in the second round: Jeremy Quinn of Apple Ridge, Tim Puetz of Huntington, Abbie Valentine of Bethpage, Adam Fuchs of Bethpage, Brent Studer of Manasquan River, Chris Scialo of Paramount, and amateurs Cameron Young of Sleepy Hollow, Dylan Newman of Hollow Brook and Colby Lewis of Mansion Ridge.

In his professional debut, Max Buckley of Westchester is still in the mix as well. The 2013 MGA Player of the Year carded a 1-over 73 and is five shots back of the lead. Also at 1-over 73 is this year’s Ike and Met Amateur Champion, David Pastore of Greenwich, Conn.

Trump – Bedminster’s Old Course played to a par 72 at 7,074 yards. With near perfect conditions, the course provided a true test to the Met Area’s best amateurs and professionals.

The MGA will conduct live 9 and 18-hole scoring during Wednesday’s second round. After tomorrow’s round, the starting field will be cut to the low 60 scorers and ties.


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