Brown returns to familiar position atop Met Open leaderboard
OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (August 22, 2016) – A familiar name rose to the top of the leaderboard at the 101st Met Open Championship late on Monday evening, as two-time champion Mark Brown of Tam O’Shanter carded a 1-under 69 for the day’s only sub-par round.
Knickerbocker’s Bill Hook owned the lead for much of the day after posting an even-par 70 as part of the first group on the course. Steady winds of 15-miles-per-hour throughout the day added to the already challenging layout presented by Glen Oaks Club, but Brown broke through in the afternoon with his 69. Cameron Young of Sleepy Hollow also put together a late rally during the afternoon to card an even-par 70.
“The golf course played extremely tough today,” said Brown, who registered three birdies during his round, all of which came within his last seven holes of the day, including one on the par-4 ninth. “I made a lot of putts today—some par saves early on—and just kind of tried to manage the ball out there.”
For Brown, two clubs aided his strong scoring in challenging conditions: the putter and a driving iron. “I showed up this morning with two putters on the putting green, and stuck with one that I’ve been using, and it worked all day,” he reported. “We [Brown and caddie Josh Rackley] read them pretty well and I have to say I rolled the ball great today, so that was the big bonus for me out there today and why I played so well.”
Brown said the driving iron he’s added to the bag is more accurate than his driver off the tee, but still gets him in good position to score well even while forgoing a little distance. It’s been part of his game all summer, including his runner-up finish at the PGA Professional Championship and the ensuing PGA Championship at Baltusrol.
“It was a great morning,” said Hook after his opening round 70 in the morning. “If you were able to hit it where you wanted to, you could take advantage of it,” he remarked, referencing the assistance provided from two inches of rain in the area over a 48-hour period.
Even with the previous day’s rain, Glen Oaks was presented in pristine condition for the Met Area’s premier championship. The course played as a 7,055-yard, par-70 setup, which is a composite course of Glen Oaks’ 27-hole facility, utilizing Nos. 1-3 and 6-9 on the White Course, Nos. 4 and 5 on the Red Course and the entire Blue Course nine.
Hook, who won New Jersey PGA’s Charity Clambake in June, completed his opening nine in 1-under and had what he considered an important par-save on the par-4 10th to keep momentum going. “It definitely helped to make the turn in under,” he remarked. I” just kept thinking if we could get it to even through those last four holes, which are brutal, we could hold on and have a decent score,” explained Hook.
Young carded the day’s second round of level-par, making a field-best six birdies on the day but also mixing in four bogies, plus a double on the par-4 18th—his ninth hole during the round.
“It was hard,” stated Young, who claimed his second straight MGA Ike Championship in late June. “If you were hitting it well, you could give yourself some opportunities, but if not you were having a lot of troubles making pars.” Young turned to the front nine in 1-over and added two bogies before closing with three birdies over the last five holes to return to even par. “I struggled a little bit in the middle of the round, then hung in there mentally. I hit some close down the end and was able to make a couple putts inside of five feet for birdie the last two holes and really turned what could have gotten away from me and been not that good of a round into a nice score.”
Many decorated competitors are close behind, led by 2014 Met Open champion Grant Sturgeon of Winged Foot who carded a 1-over 71. Andrew Gai of Longshore, who finished third in the Met Open last year, and Adam Larkin of Old Oaks also tallied 71s.
Web.com Tour player Kevin Foley of Neshanic Valley, recent PGA Championship competitor Brian Gaffney of Quaker Ridge and LIGA Open champion Jimmy Hazen of St. George’s lead a strong group of competitors at 2-over 72. Two-time Ike champion Mike Ballo, Jr., of Woodway, recent U.S. Amateur competitor Darin Goldstein of Noyac and amateur Tyler Cline of Tuxedo also scored 72s.
Past champions Jim McGovern (1987) of White Beeches, Tyler Hall of Upper Montclair (2011) and Mark Mielke (1992, 2008), lead 13 competitors at 3-over 73.
Second round tee times begin at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Following the completion of 36 holes, a cut will be made to the low 60 scores and ties. Complete coverage of the 101st Met Open is available on www.mgagolf.org and additional live updates are available on the MGA’s Twitter, @MGA1897, and other social media outlets.