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Ryan McCormick Seizes 36-Hole Lead at the Met Open

EDISON, N.J. (August 22, 2012)– In a year that has showcased the immense amateur talent in the Met Area, it’s no surprise that the biggest championship on the MGA schedule is top-loaded with two of the best young players in the Met Area. Ryan McCormick of Suburban is poised to continue his incredible summer, shooting a second-round 66 to grab hold of the 97th Met Open Championship sponsored by MetLife at Plainfield Country Club.

The 20-year-old St. John's University junior, who recently captured the Met Amateur at Hollywood Golf Club in addition to winning the New Jersey State Amateur and New York City Amateur earlier this summer, will enter the final round with a two-stroke lead. His 10-under total of 133 ties the third lowest 36-hole total in Met Open history.

“I played great,” said McCormick. “I just played solid all day, and kind of got lost out there with how many under I was. Honestly, I didn’t even know what the putt was for on the last hole.”

McCormick, who carries the brazen swagger of a seasoned veteran, doesn’t seem to let anything get under his skin on the course. His demeanor should help him on Thursday as he tries to become the first amateur to claim the Met Open since John Stoltz of Concord won in 2005, and the first person to win the Met Open and Met Amateur in the same year since PGA Tour professional Johnson Wagner did it in 2001 and 2002.

Meanwhile the youngest player in the field, 15-year-old Cameron Young of Sleepy Hollow, did what he has been doing all season long and posted another round in the 60s, this time a 2-under 69 to give him a two-round total of 135. Young, whose victories this season include the Hochster Memorial, Mittelmark Invitational, and Brae Burn Invitational, said his tee to green game was on all day.

“I hit it well on both nines, I just didn’t putt that well,” Young said. “It’s good knowing I didn’t play my best and still shot a couple under.” Young will be paired in the final group of the day with McCormick.

While the amateurs are stealing the show, several accomplished professionals are close behind and in position to make a run at the richest purse in the Met Area. Recent Met PGA Professional Championship winner Rob Labritz of GlenArbor kept his momentum going and parlayed his first-round 66 with a 1-under 70 on Wednesday to finish at 136.

“I told you guys not to get the greens faster and you did,” Labritz said jokingly. “That was the big difference; the greens were quicker than they were yesterday. But if I can play like the way I’ve been playing, I’ll be fine.”

Former Nationwide Tour professional and 2012 Connecticut Open winner Jason Caron of Siwanoy also fired a 5-under 66 to join Labritz at 136. “Overall I just played solid,” he said. “I’m not trying to do anything fancy. I’m trying to hit it in the fairway, trying to hit it on the green.”

Once again, great weather and flawless course conditions greeted players at Plainfield. MGA Director of Rules & Competitions Brian Mahoney made several course setup changesfor round two, including a shortening of the par-5 17th hole to a 480-yard par 4, which reduced the par to 71. The scoring average actually jumped from 74.7 to 75.5 and 63 players managed to make the cut of 149, including 12 former Met Open champions.

Other players within striking distance of McCormick’s lead include 2007 Met Open winner Frank Bensel of Century and defending Met Open champion Tyler Hall of Packanack, who find themselves four shots back after posting totals of 4-under-par 137 totals. Two-time Ike champion Mike Ballo Jr., who won the 2012 Westchester Open, sits in seventh place with a 138 total. Tour pro and 2005 Carter Cup winner Morgan Hoffmann of Arcola is six shots off the lead after a second-round 70 (139). Same goes for amateur Pat Wilson of Panther Valley, the first-round leader; 2012 National Club Pro champion Matt Dobyns of Fresh Meadow; Robert Gage of Forsgate; and Brian Lamberti of Doral Arrowood.

New Jersey Open winner Ben Smith of MGA eClub-New Jersey, 2010 Met Open runner-up Dan Balin of Burning Tree, 2012 U.S. Open and PGA Championship competitor Brian Gaffney of Rumson, and Stoltz sit tied for 13th with 140 totals. A trio of accomplished amateurs: 2012 New Jersey Mid-Amateur champ Brian Komline of Black Oak, Sam Bernstein of Century, and reigning MGA Player of the Year Mike Miller are tied for 17th and remain eight shots back.

Notable players who failed to make the cut include 2012 MGA/MetLife Public Links champion Eric LeFante of MGA eClub-New Jersey, 1997 Met Open winner Mike Burke Jr. of Montammy, 1991 Met Open champion Mike Diffley of Pelham, two-time MGA Mid-Amateur champion Dennis Lynch of Nassau Players, and two-time Met Open winner Bobby Heins of Old Oaks.

The final round will begin at 6:51 a.m., and players will go off in groups of two off the first tee only. Live scoring will be provided for more than half the field. Full coverage will be provided on and our new, as well as via the MGA’s Facebook and Twitter (@MGA1897) pages.

- A.J. Voelpel

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