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Kugler, Vershure, Ostrega lead 18th MGA Senior Open at 3-under

DEMAREST, N.J. (August 25, 2014) - The first round of the 18th MGA Senior Open is complete and 46 players made the cut to return to Alpine Country Club for tomorrow’s final round. Leading the pack is a trio of players that shot scores of 3-under 69, including Alpine’s Co-Greens Chairman Adam Kugler. The amateur took advantage of his home course knowledge en route to a bogey-free round that earned him a share of the lead. Winning at his home club is something he knows very well as he is a 24-time Club Champion.

“You have to putt very conservatively here,” Kugler said. “You can’t be aggressive. I’ve played here so many times, so I’m pretty comfortable here.”

The sloping and hilly Tillinghast design was no easy task today for the best senior professionals and amateurs in the Met Area. Putting was key for many of the players today, including one of the professionals tied for the lead at 3-under, Rick Vershure of Quaker Ridge.

“The best thing I had going was that I putted great,” Vershure said. “I didn’t hit the ball particularly well, I drove it terribly, but I hit a lot of good wedge shots and short irons and I putted great.” After a 1-over start, Vershure bounced back with two straight birdies on his third and fourth holes. “That kind of set me straight,” he said.

Also at 3-under and tied for a share of the lead is Gary Ostrega of Hyatt Hills. Ostrega was even par heading to the 17th, a par 4 317 yard hole. He walked away with an eagle two and a birdie on the 18th earned him a hard fought 69.

One shot back of the leaders is another three players, including two past MGA Senior Open champions. Five-time MGA Champion (two Senior Opens) Darrel Kestner of Deepdale carded one of those 2-under 70s and is tied for fourth. Kestner won the event in 2005 and 2003.

“I was playing with Rick Vershure and he got off to a fast start,” Kestner said. “So I was just trying to keep up with him.” Despite a few bad breaks, including hitting a sprinkler head that led to a bogey, Kestner continued to grind.

“I just kind of hung in there and I knew I was playing well,” he said. With a win Kestner could become a three-time champion, which would match up nicely with his three Met Open victories. “That would be a feather in my cap,” Kestner said. “I’ve had a couple second place finishes in this event. They are hard to win, but you got to cherish the ones you do.”

Another past champion at 2-under is 2006 winner Bill Britton of Trump – Colts Neck, who eagled the tough par 5 9th hole (his 18th hole) to fire a 70. Amateur Patrick Pierson of Minisceongo is also tied for fourth with Britton and Kestner at 2-under thanks to a bogey-free round.

At even par 72 and still very much in the tournament are a number of players, including 2013 British Senior Amateur champion and ten-time MGA Player of the Year George Zahringer III of Deepdale. Tied with Zahringer at even are the following: Michael Summa of Stanwich, Don Brigham of Battleground, Mike Diffley of Pelham, two-time winner Bobby Heins of Old Oaks, amateur Edward Gibstein of Engineers, David Young of Sleepy Hollow (with son Cameron as his caddie), 2004 winner Ed Whitman of Knickerbocker, Gregory Hurd of North Hempstead, and John DeForest Sr. of Roundout. Defending champion Craig Thomas of Metropolis advanced to the final round after carding a 3-over 75.

To advance to the final round on the 6,676 yard course, players had to shoot a 4-over 76 or better. The final round’s tee-times begin at 8:30 a.m., with players teeing off of both the first and tenth tees. The MGA will provide live hole-by-hole scoring for the final ten groups on Tuesday. For full coverage, please visit


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