Day One at 102nd Met Open Ends with Packed Leaderboard
DEAL, N.J. (August 22, 2017) – Following Tuesday’s opening round in the 102nd Met Open Championship Presented by Callaway at Hollywood Golf Club, 18 players stand within four shots of Mark McCormick of Suburban, who posted a 5-under 66 to claim the overnight lead. Stewart Hagestad of Deepdale, the 2016 MGA Player of the Year, is just one shot back after carding 4-under 67, while four competitors tallied first-round 68s.
“I drove the ball well and kind of hit it solid all day long,” said McCormick, 55, following his bogey-free afternoon round in which he birdied both par-fives. “My iron play was pretty good. It’s been a little off lately, but today I think I found a little something on the driving range five minutes before my tee time and I kind of went with it and hit it pretty good all day.”
McCormick, who was an assistant at Hollywood back in 1992, also holed birdie putts outside of 20 and 30 feet to grab the lead. “I made about a 30-footer for birdie on 17,” he said. “I was trying to lag that down to the hole and it just went in, which was nice.”
While Hagestad didn’t feel as though he struck the ball particularly well, he felt his game plan and safe misses helped lead to a quality 4-under round. “I had a lot of good looks out there, and other than one hole it was pretty darn stress free,” he said. “I had a lot of good looks at birdie—converted a couple, missed a couple—but, anything in the 60s in the afternoon is a really good score.”
Starting on the 10th hole, Hagestad played a bogey-free first nine and pushed his number to 5-under following birdies on Nos. 3 and 5. A double-bogey on the par-four 6th halted momentum, but the recent selection to the Walker Cup team added a birdie on the par-four eighth to fire the low score of the day among amateurs.
Amateurs Dawson Jones of Jumping Brook and Peter Kim of Royce Brook continued the string of quality scores from the afternoon wave, matching Westchester Country Club’s Danny Balin and Max Buckley’s rounds of 3-under 68 which were the low scores of the morning.
“I was just really patient—I put the ball in the right places and made a few good putts,” said Kim, the 2015 Met Amateur champion whose round was sparked by a tap-in birdie on the par-four third hole after an approach from outside 160 yards. “That was the shot that got me going, so that’s definitely one to remember,” said the recent Army graduate.
Meanwhile, 2017 NJSGA Amateur champion Jones used a string of three-consecutive birdies on Nos. 6-8 en route to his 68.
Similar to other low scorers, the both Balin and Buckley credited accuracy off the tee as a key to success.
“I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens,” said Balin, winner of this year’s Westchester Open and the 2012 Met Open champion. “I kind of controlled my golf ball and I made two bogies—one from the first cut and one in the rough. You have to hit a lot of fairways out here because the rough is a little gnarly. I did well in that aspect, then I made a few putts here and there and played solid.” A bounce-back birdie on the par-three 17th also helped Balin close strong. “I hit it in there about six feet and made it, so that was kind of nice to keep my round going.”
“I kept the ball in play—I kept it in the fairway and I gave myself a lot of good looks at birdie early on, I didn’t make many, but I was never really in trouble,” said Buckley, the 2013 MGA Player of the Year. “I kept the ball below the hole which is key out here. You have to miss it in the right spots and I was able to do that for all 18 holes.” Lag putting on Hollywood’s large, undulating Walter Travis greens also proved pivotal for Buckley, who said, “I had a lot of 15-20 footers and the 40-50 footers I was able to two-putt those to keep the momentum going.”
Frank Bensel of Century, the 2007 Met Open champion, along with Sean Quinlivan of Piping Rock sit tied for seventh following 2-under 69s, while a formidable group of 11 competitors fired 1-under 70s to round out red-figure scores.
Among those at 1-under include recent PGA Championship competitor Matt Dobyns of Fresh Meadow, 2008 Ike Championship winner and Web.com Tour competitor Kevin Foley of Neshanic Valley, 2017 New York State Open champion Cameron Young of Sleepy Hollow, 2017 Met Amateur champion Matt Mattare of Darlington, and current MGA Player of the Year points leader James Nicholas of Westchester.
Mike Ballo, Jr. of Winged Foot, David Schuster of Sleepy Hollow, Josh Rackley of Tam O’Shanter, and amateurs Brendan Davis of Fiddler’s Elbow, Darin Goldstein of Deepdale and MGA eClub – Long Island member Sean Cavanaugh are also in the mix at 1-under.
Round two begins at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday. Following play, the low 54 scores and ties will advance to Thursday’s final round. Nine and 18-hole updates will be available Wednesday, while live hole-by-hole scoring will be available for the majority of groups on Thursday. Additional coverage and live updates can be found on the MGA’s social media outlets.