rolex logo

Amateurs, Past Champions Stand Atop 100th Met Open Leaderboard

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (August 25, 2015) – Multiple past champions recorded sub-par scores in the first round of the 100th Met Open at Winged Foot’s East Course, but a pair of amateurs stand atop the leaderboard at day’s end. Ryan Snouffer of Essex County owns the lead following a 5-under 65, while 17-year old Dawson Jones, an MGA eClub – New Jersey member, recorded a 3-under 67.

Related: Scoring | Second Round Starting Times

The 2011 winner Tyler Hall of Upper Montclair led a trio of past champions with under-par rounds, matching Jones’ 67. Danny Balin of Burning Tree, the 2012 champion, and two-time winner Mark Mielke—the victor in 1992 and 2008—each shot 1-under 69. Abbie Valentine of Bethpage and Anthony Aruta of North Shore carded the only other under-par rounds of the day, also with 69s.

Snouffer, who is entering his senior year at Seton Hall, continues his high-level play in MGA majors this season after finishing tied for third at the Ike and being the runner-up at the Met Am. Snouffer credited the combination of accurate approaches and a strong putting performance for his quality opening round.

“I was putting really well,” Snouffer remarked. “I made some pretty long putts out there—a bunch of 20-25 footers for birdie. That helped a lot. It was really about placement and making sure you’re in the right spots. I did that today and it worked out for me.”

Media: Photos | Interviews

Snouffer took advantage of rather benign conditions during the morning, before winds added slightly to the challenge of the East Course after lunch. “I was lucky enough there wasn’t much wind out there this morning,” Snouffer reported. “It can play very, very tough. Some of the holes you just have to know where to hit it. You just kind of play the slopes and keep it below the hole as much as possible. It’s in phenomenal shape, so this is just a treat to be able to play here.”

Putting was also key for Jones, the 2014 Met Junior champion who is on his way to University of Rhode Island in a couple weeks. “I hit the ball really well today, especially on the greens—my putting was just unbelievable and to score out here that’s what you have to do,” Jones said. “I just took really hard looks at it, picked my spot, hit it confidently and they just went in.”

Meanwhile, Hall recorded five birdies en route to his 67, but also had a pair of bogeys on the inward nine. Hall was quickly under-par to begin his day, birdieing three of his first four holes. An opening bogey didn’t deter Balin, who quickly turned things around and recorded four birdies on his way to 69.

Mielke also benefitted from a quick start, as an eagle on the par-4 fifth hole moved him to 4-under in the early going. “It was great to see one go in. Not having to putt is always nice, so it was good,” he explained. As for the rest of his round, Mielke was trying to keep it simple with fairways and greens, saying, “I just tried to hit as many fairways as I could and try to hit the middle of these greens. They’re very, very undulated, so middle of the greens was still a challenge.”

Four more professionals notched even-par scores. Ben Polland of Deepdale, fresh off an appearance at the PGA Championship, Rob Labritz of GlenArbor, Steve Sieg and Corey Brigham of Beacon Hill each made their way around the East Course with 70s.

Winged Foot’s very own Mike Gilmore and Grant Sturgeon remain very well in the hunt following matching 71s in the opening round. Five others carded opening round 71s, including 2010 winner Bob Rittberger of Garden City Golf Club and Steve Scott of Paramount.

The par-70 East Course played at 6,786 yards. While Winged Foot is hosting its record seventh Met Open, this is the first contested on the East Course. The A.W. Tillinghast gem fully reopened in May, following a two-year restoration led by Gil Hanse and superintendent Steve Rabideau.

Second round tee times begin at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Following the completion of 36 holes, a cut will be made to the low 60 scores and ties. Complete coverage of the 100th Met Open is available on and additional live updates are available on the MGA’s Twitter, @MGA1897.

News Type: