Birdie Barrage Returns Esposito to Winner's Circle
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (August 30, 2022) -- Five birdies in a seven-hole stretch propelled Frank Esposito, Jr., of Mountain Ridge to a 3-under 68, Tuesday, and ultimately a two-stroke victory in the 26th Lexus MGA Senior Open Championship at The Patterson Club, as he secured his second win in the event in three years.
After a 1-under 70 in the opening round, Esposito began the day just one shot behind first-round leaders Bill Van Orman of Meadow Brook and defending champion David Schuster of Sleepy Hollow.
“You see the golf course and the scores will go down a little bit,” said Esposito about his mindset entering the final round, knowing other players would score better on day two of the championship. “I was just trying to do the same thing.”
While Esposito opened with bogey for the second straight day, he turned things around with birdies on Nos. 5 and 6, making a six-footer on the par-5 before pouring in a 10-footer on the par-3.
“Once you start seeing some putts go in, it’s always a nice thing,” said Esposito.
The 59-year-old, who has now logged a top-10 finish in all 10 of his MGA Senior Open starts, made a pair of bogeys on Nos. 9-10, but quickly turned things around with three consecutive birdies.
Esposito made all three look easy, getting up and down from behind the par-5 11th, draining a 20-footer on the par-3 12th and knocking his approach to just a couple feet on the par-4 13th. The run put him in a tie alongside Schuster, who played his opening nine in 1-under 35.
Esposito kept the hot stretch going with another birdie on the dogleg right par-4 15th, hitting hybrid off the tee and placing his wedge approach to about 12 feet. The left-to-right breaker fell to give him the lead, but Schuster matched him a couple groups later to keep pace.
His final birdie came on the par-4 17th, with another close approach shot to within three feet. While Esposito made bogey on the challenging par-4 18th, Schuster made bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18 on his way in, earning Esposito the two-shot victory.
“It’s always big to win any tournament, especially a Met tournament when you have the best players and players that are so accomplished,” said Esposito. “Anytime that you can come out on top, you’re doing something. Especially at a great place like this—I loved it. I thought the golf course was in great shape. It’s a fun place to play.”
For Esposito, who was one of 14 players in the field that teed it up in the Met Open last week at Bethpage Black, the driver proved key to his success at The Patterson Club.
“I drove the ball exceptionally this week and felt really comfortable on the tees,” said Esposito. “It’s always nice to kind of put yourself in position to make birdies.”
Esposito is the fourth player to win the MGA Senior Open twice, joining Russell Helwig (1998, 1999), Darrell Kestner (2003, 2005), Bill Britton (2006, 2017), and Bobby Heins (2008, 2009).
Schuster finished solo second at 2-under, while Brent Studer of Metedeconk, 2016 champion Jim McGovern of White Beeches and Jim Farrell of Hamlet tied for third at 1-under 141 for the championship. Studer and 2013 champion Craig Thomas of Metropolis carded the day’s and tournament’s low round with 4-under 67s. Thomas finished tied for sixth alongside Frank Bensel of Century at even-par.
Michael Stamberger of Manasquan River posted a 1-under 70 to finish solo eighth and as low amateur at 1-over 143. It was the 2003 Met Amateur winner's first time competing in the event. Fellow amateur Matthew Meyer of Winged Foot was one shot back, rounding out the top 10 alongside Cary Stephan of Whippoorwill at 2-over 144.
The majority of the field were either experiencing The Patterson Club for the first time or returning for the first time in many years and expressed how much they enjoyed the course. The Patterson Club was hosting its third MGA championship and its first since the 2016 Met Junior Championship.
The 27th Lexus MGA Senior Open will take place at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J., with this year’s top 25 finishers exempt for the championship.