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MGA Senior Open Heads to Alpine

ELMSFORD, N.Y. (August 22, 2014) - The 18th MGA Senior Open Championship heads to Alpine Country Club in Demarest, N.J., on August 25-26 and the field of 112 amateurs and professionals 50 years of age and older will compete in this 36-hole championship, the largest event in local senior golf.

Back to defend his title is Craig Thomas of Metropolis, who won last year’s championship at Sunningdale in a sudden death playoff over Mark Mielke of Mill River. Thomas recorded an MGA Senior Open final round record score of 67 last year to erase a four-shot deficit, and with a par on the second playoff hole, Thomas became the champion.  Thomas is returning to the field with some nice highlights from his season; he came in 6th at the Westchester Open and tied for low club pro at the Senior PGA Championship in May. 

Thomas will look to become the fourth two-time Senior Open champion in the event’s history, but two of the players who have already accomplished the feat will challenge him for their third Senior Open title. Bobby Heins of Old Oaks won back-to-back Senior Open Championships in 2008 and 2009, while Darrell Kestner of Deepdale won his two titles in 2003 and 2005. Heins will come into the Senior Open building off his best performance of the summer at the MasterCard Met PGA Sr. Match Play Championship, where he was a semi-finalist. Kestner, who qualified for this year’s  U.S. Senior Open, was a runner-up in that same event.

Other past champions in the field looking to capture another MGA Senior Open victory include Ed Whitman of Knickerbocker (‘04), Bill Britton of Trump National – Colts Neck (‘06), Bruce Zabriski of Westchester (‘07), Mike Burke of Montammy (’11), Peter Busch of Galloping Hill (’12), and the only amateur to ever win the event, John Ervasti of Sleepy Hollow (’10).

Plenty of other professionals will certainly be forces in this year’s event, including the red-hot Frank Esposito Jr. of Brooklake, who has racked up four victories in his past two seasons, and made appearances at both the PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship this season. Among the other pros that should be in contention include six-time MGA Champ Jerry Courville Jr. of Shorehaven, David Young of Sleepy Hollow, Mike Turnesa Jr. of Rockville, 1991 Met Open Champion Mike Diffley of Pelham, two-time Met Open Champion David Glenz of Black Oak, Jim Turnesa of Westchester Golf Range, and Chris Dachisen of North Jersey, who could add a fourth top-10 finish to his MGA Senior Open record with a strong 36-holes at this year’s event.

The amateur talent doesn’t stop with the young guns in the Met Area. There will be a very strong amateur contingent at this year’s Senior open as always, starting with 2013 British Senior Amateur Champion George Zahringer III of Deepdale. Other top amateurs in the field are 2009 MGA Senior Amateur Champ Al Small of Fairmount, three-time MGA Champion Ron Vannelli of Forsgate, and 1997 U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Ken Bakst of Friar’s Head. The 1981 Met Amateur Champ Peter Van Ingen of Deepdale, two-time MGA Mid-Amateur Champ Dennis Lynch of Nassau Players, and MGA President Jeffrey Holzschuh of Stanwich will also compete.

Though it is young as far as MGA championships go, the Senior Open has a high profile among the top players in the Met Area. The MGA added a Sectional Qualifying component in 2013 to accommodate growing demand for this championship. This year’s qualifier was held at Innis Arden Golf Club in Old Greenwich, Conn., and sent 52 players into the final field.

Alpine Country Club, an A.W. Tillinghast layout, has hosted a number of MGA events including the Father and Son and Mixed Pinehurst Championships, but this will be the first time the club hosts the MGA Senior Open. Known for its exceptional course conditions, Alpine’s rolling terrain and challenging green complexes will be in peak condition for next week’s championship.

“Competitors can expect a demanding setup that will require their very best if they are to finish near the top of the leaderboard,” said MGA’s Managing Director of Rules and Competitions Brian Mahoney.

The MGA will conduct live scoring throughout the championship, including 9 and 18-hole scores during the first round and hole-by-hole scoring for the majority of groups in Tuesday’s final round. For full coverage and updates throughout the championship, visit and follow @MGA1897 on twitter. 

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