Gilmore Owns Overnight Lead in Lexus MGA Senior Open
EDISON, N.J. (August 28, 2023) – Past Met Open champion Mike Gilmore of Winged Foot fired a 4-under 68 on Monday to open the 27th Lexus MGA Senior Open Championship at Plainfield, earning a one-shot lead entering Tuesday’s final round. Gilmore has a pack of competitors chasing him, as 17 others carded rounds of even-par or better, with six past Senior Open champions in that mix.
“I’ve always liked this place and the way the greens look,” said Gilmore, the 2000 Met Open champion who could become the eighth player to win both the Met Open and Senior Open in their career. “It’s an iron maker’s golf course, plus you have to putt it pretty well here."
Gilmore had six birdies on the day, including three over his final five holes. For Gilmore, his play at Plainfield stemmed from his play in the Met Open last week.
“I had a good second round at Arcola last week and it kind of got me where I am right now, so I was feeling pretty good today,” said Gilmore, 58.
With lots of players on the chase, Gilmore aims to focus on his game and his swing on Tuesday.
“I’m just going to try to relax and play golf like I did today," he said. "Just play, not put any stress on myself, just hit it and see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Mark Mielke – a two-time winner of both the Met Open and MGA Senior Open – and amateur Craig Maerki of Bethpage both carded 3-under-par 69s in the morning to sit one shot off the pace.
Mielke sandwiched back-to-back birdies on Nos. 3, 4 and 7, 8 with a pair of bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6 to turn in 2-under. The rest of the way, Mielke made nine pars and a final birdie on the par-4 13th -- the nines are flipped from the traditional member routing at Plainfield.
“You can’t make too many bogeys in a tournament like this, being only 36 holes,” said Mielke, 61. “So, it was nice not to be in too many bad spots to be looking at bogey. I had a lot of birdie putts today. To get to a few under and be in the mix and be within reach with one round left is kind of exciting.”
For Maerki, his play on the par-3s boosted his score, as he made a trio of birdies on the one-shotters -- Nos. 2, 12 and 15.
“I didn’t hit a lot of fairways,” admitted Maerki, 62. “I putted really well and made the five-footers that you need to and had a couple really good kicks where I just ended up two feet from the hole.”
Dave Fusco of Osiris and two-time champion Frank Esposito, Jr., of Mountain Ridge posted 2-under 70s, while Brian Gaffney of Essex Fells, Bob Rittberger of Garden City Golf Club, Scott Ford of Glen Oaks and 2021champion David Schuster of Sleepy Hollow all shot 1-under 71. Esposito, who won titles in 2020 and 2022, is coming off a tie for 14th in the Met Open last week.
Eight players shot even-par 72, with past champions Bill Britton of Trump National – Colts Neck, Shaun Powers of Fairview, and Edward Whitman of Knickerbocker among the group well within striking distance.
Following the opening round, a cut was made to the low 40 scores and ties with 43 players advancing behind scores of 3-over 75 or better.
Tuesday’s final round will begin at 8:00 a.m., with the final pairing of Gilmore and Maerki teeing off at 9:45 a.m.
Plainfield, a founding member of the MGA, is hosting its 18th MGA event in its history. It last welcomed the 2021 Met Amateur and is one of 19 clubs to have hosted all three MGA majors – the Ike, Amateur and Open.