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Bakst Lands Senior Amateur Title Behind Late Birdies

BAITING HOLLOW, N.Y. (May 16, 2023) – Three birdies over the final six holes led Ken Bakst of Friar’s Head to the come-from-behind victory, Tuesday in the 96th MGA Senior Amateur Championship at Baiting Hollow Club. Bakst began the day five shots off the pace but used his trio of birdies to card an even-par final round and win by two shots.

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“I was rusty yesterday,” said Bakst of his opening 76. But an eagle on the par-5 18th kept the 1996 Met Amateur and 1997 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion within reach and gave him a positive outlook entering the final round. “I thought, if I played a good round today, I had a chance,” said Bakst.

After three pars to open, Bakst added a bogey and double-bogy on Nos. 4 and 6. However, he bounced back quickly with a birdie four on the par-5 seventh. Though he stood further back, those toward the top of the leaderboard began to falter while facing the windy conditions and firm greens.

Bakst added another bogey on the par-4 12th, but once again bounced back, this time knocking his tee shot to seven feet on the downhill par-3 13th.

Another birdie came on the par-4 16th thanks to an approach to just four feet to a back hole location. Though he hadn’t looked at a leaderboard all day, Bakst wanted to repeat what he did on 18 the previous day, thinking it could be meaningful.

Playing downwind, Bakst had just over 160 yards into the home hole and knocked a pitching wedge to 18 feet. Two putts later sealed his 4-over tournament total.

Meanwhile, 2020 champion Ned Zachar also had a solid round going, having played his first nine in 2-under par. He stood at 4-over for the championship with three holes to play, but a trio of bogeys to close saw him fall out of contention.

“I won my Met Amateur almost 30 years ago,” said Bakst. “It’s always an honor and privilege to play in these events, and to win one and go home with the trophy is all the more special, so I’m really pleased with that.” Bakst had been close in the championship once before, falling to Jim Graham of Winged Foot in a playoff in 2019 at Montclair Golf Club in New Jersey.

Tore Carlson of Bedford Golf & Tennis and Morten Gotterup of Rumson tied for second with 6-over 150 tournament totals, while Zachar, Ken Kohen of Villa Roma and MGA eClub – Hudson Valley member Gustav Talleur tied fourth at 7-over 151.

First round leader David Mattana of Meadow Brook finished solo seventh (8-over), while Sander Koudijs of Trump National Hudson Valley, Tom Yellin of Stanwich and Dave Scialabba of Meadow Brook, all 9-over, rounded out the top 10 and earned exemptions into this year’s Lexus MGA Senior Open Championship at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J.

This was the first time that the MGA Senior Amateur Championship had been held at Baiting Hollow Club, which impressed many in the field that were seeing it for the first time.

“The golf course was great, it was in great shape particularly since it’s only the middle of May and it’s already running pretty fast,” said the champion, Bakst.

The 1964 Robert Trent Jones Sr., design moves across its rolling landscape just off the Long Island Sound. Thick rough and both firm and fast fairways and greens challenged the field and provided an exciting championship.

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