Miranda surges to 69th Public Links title behind second round 67
SUFFERN, N.Y. (July 7, 2016) – The final nine of the 69th MGA Public Links Championship featured a crowded leaderboard with several competitors having a shot at claiming the title at Spook Rock Golf Course, but Michael Miranda of Pine Ridge came away with the two-stroke victory, closing the afternoon with a stellar 5-under 67 and a 2-under 142 tournament total.
Finishing at even-par for second place in the championship were Michael Young Jr., of South Shore, who carded a 4-under 68 in the afternoon, Jonathan Jeter of Nassau Players, and Kyle Brey of Bethpage, who logged his second straight runner-up finish in the event.
“It was really nice to battle through this heat and some really tough conditions,” said Miranda after claiming the victory over 36 holes on one of the summer’s hottest days yet. “I played really solid today and it was really nice to come out with the ‘W.’”
Miranda began the championship with a 3-over 75, and stood six shots off the morning pace of 3-under 69 set by Nick Dilio of Casperkill and Gray Barnes of Centennial. “The first round I didn’t really get anything going, but I also didn’t play bad. I hit the ball well,” explained Miranda. “The second round—I honestly hit it pretty much the same—but I had 23 or 24 putts,” said Miranda referencing his championship-low 67.
While Miranda began his afternoon with a bogey on the par-4 10th, he rallied back with four birdies and a bogey to make the turn in 2-under, moving to 1-over for the championship. But, the rising St. Thomas Aquinas junior really began to make his move shortly after the turn. “I was just trying to stay patient because I knew there were a few birdie holes coming up,” Miranda remarked. “I knew I had a good chance of coming in strong and having a couple birdies.” Miranda, who fired an incredible round of 11-under 60 en route to a collegiate win last fall, birdied three straight on Nos. 2-4. He carded a bogey on the par-5 sixth, but finished strongly with a five-foot birdie on the par-4 ninth, securing his two-shot win.
“I knew I had to throw up something pretty low today,” said Miranda. “The course was in great condition, but everything was getable. I knew I had to make a bunch of putts in order to win.”
Meanwhile, Jeter came to the par-4 ninth at 1-under for the championship, but his approach stayed on the upper tier and resulted in a three-putt and a level-par finish. Jeter recorded a 1-over 73 in the morning, but used five birdies in an eight hole stretch during his post-lunch round to get right back in the mix.
Young Jr. made an early run up the leaderboard during the second round as he tallied six birdies—all in a 10-hole stretch—en route to a 4-under 68 to match Jeter at 144. Brey followed up his morning 71 with a 1-over 73, carding a pair of birdies to three bogies for the even-par total for the championship
First round co-leader Dilio, Scott Kim of Darlington, and eClub New Jersey member Thomas Lee tied for fifth at 1-over 145, while Dennis Lynch of Nassau Players, eClub New York City member Owen Elliott and eClub Westchester/Fairfield member Chet Hrostek rounded out the top-10, sharing eighth place at 2-over 146.
The top-five finishers will receive an exemption into the 2017 MGA Public Links Championship, which will take place at Ballyowen Golf Club in Hamburg, N.J. Miranda also receives an exemption into the 2016 Met Amateur at Country Club of Fairfield, in addition to 100 MGA Player of the Year points.
Spook Rock Golf Course hosted the championship for a record-tying eight time, playing 6762 yards in round one and 6680 yards during the final round. The venue once again served as a superb host, as its tree-lined fairways required precision both off the tee and on approach shots and its large greens put a premium on putting, resulting in a setup that tested every aspect of the field’s game.
The MGA Public Links Championship, the oldest public links championship in the nation, 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.