Xander McDonald-Smith Wins MGA Publlic Links
MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (July 10, 2014) – Xander McDonald-Smith of Marine Park captured his first MGA championship today at Charleston Springs when he won the 67th MGA Public Links Championship by five strokes with a 36-hole score of 6-under 138. The five stroke win ties the record for the largest margin of victory and his total of 138 ties for the second lowest winning score in MGA Public Links history.
The 21-year-old fired a 1-under 71 in his morning round to tie for the first-round lead and then sealed the deal in the afternoon thanks to a spectacular round of 5-under 67. The Penn State Nittany Lion credited his success to hitting it long on the par-5s.
“I just went out there and stuck to my game plan – play the par fives the way I can,” he said. “I got on a little streak, I birdied four in a row and then I think I birdied every par five in the second round.”
This summer has been a good one so far for McDonald-Smith, despite what he thought was a shaky spring for Penn State. “It’s starting to click,” he said. “I didn’t play great in the spring, but once I got home I worked hard with my coach. We worked some kinks out and it’s starting to come together.” It could be very good timing for McDonald-Smith who hopes to add a few more wins before heading back to Happy Valley in the fall. He plans on teeing it up in the New York State Amateur, a U.S. Amateur Qualifier on Wednesday, a Met Open qualifier, and the Met Amateur.
Armando Olivieri of Griff Harris Men’s Club finished as runner-up with rounds of 76 and 67 for a 1-under total of 143. The soon to be freshman at Colgate University needed a good look at the course before going low in the afternoon. “I hadn’t played here before so not really knowing where to go the first round was kind of tough,” he said. “I kind of got the sense of where I needed to be in the second round.” A little bit of course knowledge went a long way for Olivieri, who carded six birdies in the second round and just one bogey. He plans on attempting to qualify for the Met Open this summer as well as play in the Carter Cup at Baltusrol.
This trophy adds another win to McDonald-Smith’s 2014 season; he won the New York City Amateur in May and just this past Monday was the Low Amateur at the Brooklyn Open. He will look to add another MGA trophy at the Met Amateur, which he has earned an exemption for thanks to this victory.
Brendon Kim of MGA eClub – N.J., Brian Fitzpatrick of Neshanic Valley, and Eric LeFante of Neshanic Valley all tied for third and finished with scores of even 144s. LeFante has continually finished at the top of the leaderboard in this event – he won in 2012 and was the runner-up in 2011 and 2009. The top five finishers earn an exemption into next year’s championship at Eisenhower Park’s Red Course.
2013 winner Jacob Henny of Oak Hills Park finished tied for 10th with a 3-over total of 147.
The 67th MGA Public Links Championship was played on the South Course at Charleston Springs Golf Course, part of the Monmouth County Parks System. The par 72 course played to 6,920 yards.
The Championship, first played in 1936, is open to golfers who reside in the MGA district, have an official USGA Handicap Index of 8.0 or lower, and do not hold playing privileges at a course from which the general public is excluded.