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Ballo and Sturgeon Lead Going Into Met Open Final Round

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (August 20, 2014) – 65 players will return to Trump National Golf Club – Bedminster on Thursday morning for the final round of the 99th Met Open Championship.

Mike Ballo, Jr. of Woodway and Grant Sturgeon of Winged Foot are co-leaders going into the final round with 36-hole scores of 6-under 138. Ballo, a co-runner-up in 2012, shot a 5-under 67 today to move up the leaderboard, while Sturgeon’s 4-under 68 helped him grab a share of the lead as well. Sturgeon and Ballo feel confident heading into the final round and they both spoke about focusing on their mental games as the key to success.

“If I can just control myself and my emotions, stay patient and not worry about what everyone else is doing, I think I’m going to have a pretty good chance,” Ballo said.

While anything can happen, Ballo feels great about where he stands. “If someone plays better [tomorrow] then so be it, that’s what happens in golf,”  he said. “I’m right where I need to be.”

Sturgeon, an assistant pro at Winged Foot, wants to just stay cool. “I’ve been really relaxed and just having fun,” he said, adding, “One shot at a time. I know that’s boring and we all say it, but that’s all golf is.”

Amateur Cameron Young of Sleepy Hollow and the 2000 Met Open winner Mike Gilmore of Winged Foot are just one shot back after both players had low second rounds today. Young just returned from a magical week at the U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club where he advanced  to the quarterfinals. The 17-year-old brought his game with him from Georgia to Trump – Bedminster.

“I made a bunch of long putts on the back nine,” Young said. He birdied four out of his first five holes on his back nine (Trump – Bedminster’s front nine), and grabbed one more birdie on the 8th hole (his 17th) to close out an awesome round of 5-under 67 (36-31). This is a place the young kid has been before, atop the leaderboard heading into the final round of a Met Open. Winning at Trump – Bedminster would make him the youngest champion in the event’s history, which would be pretty special. “That would be an incredible honor,” he said. “It’s a storied tournament and the list of winners is unbelievable, but I still have to get through another 18 holes.”

Gilmore, the Head Pro at Winged Foot, is just one back of the lead and his assistant pro Sturgeon and Ballo. For him, the flat stick was working today. “I just kept my composure out there, I had some pretty good confidence coming in here with my putter,” Gilmore said. “I figured if I hit some greens I could make some putts.” Like Young, the former Met Open Champ Gilmore is still very focused on tomorrow, but he is definitely happy to be back around the top in a Met Open again. “I haven’t been in this position in a while, it feels good, I just have to stay focused and do what I did [in today’s round] tomorrow.”

The 2006 champion John Guyton of Wheatley Hills carded a 3-under 69 in his second round today to finish his first 36 holes at 4-under par for the championship. Guyton started on the 10th hole and found himself at 2-over through his first six holes, but he quickly fought back with birdies on 17, 18, 1, and 3, and he sprinkled in an eagle two on the par 4 2nd hole. “On two, the tees were up, I hit a good drive and actually chipped that one in for eagle,” he said. “I played that stretch of holes really well today and hung in there on some of the tougher holes.” The former champ feels comfortable heading into the final round, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t feel a little pressure late today. “It’s funny, today I was actually a little bit nervous those last few holes for the first time in a while,” Guyton said.  “It was a combination of playing well and a lot of these shots are so tough.”

Three strokes off the lead are Brian Gaffney of Quaker Ridge, Cameron Wilson of Shorehaven and Anthony Aruta of Staten Island Practice Center. They all stand at 3-under after 36-hole totals of 141. Wilson finished as the runner-up last year after falling in a three-hole playoff to Mark Brown.

First-round leader Rob Labritz of GlenArbor, amateur Dylan Newman of Hollow Brook and Brian Lamberti of Richter Park are in the mix with 2-under 142 totals.

With 36-hole scores of 1-under 143 and chances of catching the leaders are: 2007 winner Frank Bensel of Century, Colin Dolph of North Hempstead, Tim Puetz of Huntington, Abbie Valentine of Bethpage, Chris Scialo of Paramount, 2004 MGA/MetLife Boys winner Sunny Kim of Bethpage, and amateur Harrison Shih of Alpine.

Met Amateur and Ike Champion David Pastore of MGA eClub Westchester/Fairfield safely made the cut after rounds of 73-72, but at seven strokes behind the leader, he will have a lot of ground to cover to capture another MGA title. Frank Esposito Jr., of Brooklake had rounds of 70-75 to make the final round.

Reigning champion Mark Brown of Tam O’Shanter and MGA Player of the Year Max Buckley of Westchester,  are amongst players who are eight strokes back with 2-over 146s.

Once again, players were fortunate to have excellent conditions on Trump-Bedminster’s Old Course. Players praised the greens and despite great scores, they all spoke about the true difficulty of the sprawling layout.

Final round tee times begin at 7:30 Thursday morning, and there will be live hole-by-hole scoring available for all groups available on and the My MGA mobile app. Follow @MGA1897 on twitter for updates throughout the day.


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