David Cha Wins MGA Public Links Championship
EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (July 9, 2015) – David Cha claimed his first-ever MGA title on Tuesday, winning the 68th MGA Public Links Championship on the second playoff hole at Eisenhower Park’s Red Course. Cha, an MGA eClub – New York City member, defeated Kyle Brey of Bethpage after both finished with a 36-hole score of 3-under 139 total. The playoff was just the second in tournament history, with the first coming in 2011.
“This actually means a lot right now, because I haven’t won for years,” remarked Cha, who will be a senior at Seton Hall University. “It feels really really nice.”
Cha sat three strokes off the pace following an even-par round of 71 in the morning, but recorded six birdies in the final round to make his move. The key, Cha said, was on the greens, as he began to make some longer putts in the afternoon.
“In the first round I was hitting the ball really solid, but I couldn’t make birdie putts—I left a lot of strokes on the greens. Second round, I started to make some putts.” The birdies then came in bunches for Cha, as he had three-straight circles on his scorecard to close the front nine, before adding three more birdies in the span of holes 12 through 16.
Cha’s biggest putt came on his final hole of regulation. “I actually made a twenty-footer on the last hole to make it in the playoff,” said Cha. “I didn’t know until the end. My teammates told me and that was great.”
Both competitors made par on the par-4 1st, then Cha was able to claim the title with a bogey on the par-4 18th. While it wasn’t Cha’s first playoff experience, he admitted there were certainly some nerves. “I’ve had some playoffs before, but this was my most nervous playoff ever,” he stated. “I played well—I stayed on course and had a really good chip out there.”
Brey entered the afternoon with a share of the lead, and carded two birdies and two bogies en route to his 3-under tournament total. Similarly to Cha, Brey made a big play on his final hole of regulation, birdieing the par-4 9th hole to solidify his position in the playoff.
Jonathan Emerson, an MGA eClub – Long Island member competing in his first-ever MGA event, followed an even-par morning round with a 2-under 69 to finish just one stroke out of the playoff and in solo third at 2-under 140. Despite beginning his afternoon round with a double-bogey, Emerson played bogey-free golf the rest of the way. He made a strong surge at the end of his day, carding birdies on three of his final five holes.
Jonathan Jeter of Nassau Players Club and Matthew Yun of Douglaston shared fourth with matching 36-hole scores of 142. After tying for the first round lead with a morning 68, Jeter fell off the pace with a final-round 74. Meanwhile, Yun began the day with a 73 but carded a bogey-free 69 in the afternoon to move up the leaderboard.
2014 MGA Public Links winner Xander McDonald-Smith also carried a share of the lead into the afternoon, but carded a 76 following lunch for a T-7 finish at 144.
With the win, Cha gains automatic entry into the 2015 Met Amateur, played July 30-August 2 at Baltusrol Golf Club.
The 68th MGA Public Links Championship was contested at Eisenhower Park, which features Red, White, and Blue courses. The Red Course, which played to a par of 71 at 6,871 yards for the field of 64, is its most historic having hosted the 1926 PGA Championship. It later hosted the Champion’s Tour’s Commerce Bank Championship for a number of years.
The MGA Public Links Championship, first played in 1936, is contested over 36 holes and is open to male amateur golfers who reside in the MGA territory and do not have playing privileges at a course at which the general public is excluded. Competitors must have a Handicap Index of 8.0 or below. Five sectional qualifying rounds were held throughout the Met Area to determine the final field. It is the oldest public links championship in the nation.