NJ Pub-Links: Siegler rides ace to victory
KENILWORTH, N.J. (July 18, 2013) -- On a day that included a hole-in-one on his fifth hole, 19-year-old Ryan Siegler of Mercer Oaks carded rounds of 69-71 for a 2-under-par 140 and a four-stroke victory on Thursday, July 18, in the ninth New Jersey State Golf Association Men’s Public Links Championship at the Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth, home to the NJSGA.

Siegler, who had never played the 6,639-yard course before Thursday, fired a round of 3-under-par 33 on his final nine holes to take the championship over runner-up Eddie Carnes of Suneagles (73-71-140). Third place went to Sean Lawrence of Rutgers (74-71-145). The top three finishers earned a place in the 2014 State Amateur at Knickerbocker C.C.

Tied for fourth place were two-time champion Eric LeFante of Hominy Hill (73-73-146) and Marc Grinberg of Charleston Springs (69-77-146). Temperatures approached 100 degrees on the course a scorchingly hot summer day.

Defending champion Justin VanHyning of Mercer Oaks tied for 17that 79-72-151.

“I played really consistently today,” said Siegler, a sophomore golfer at Towson State in Maryland. “I didn’t hit a lot of drivers out there. I hit irons and let it roll on the fairways. I made a lot of five-to-10-foot putts and didn’t make any doubles, which has been a struggle for me.”

It’s been a solid summer for Siegler, who played this week at the U.S. Publinx at Laurel Hills in Virginia, but missed the cut for match play by one stroke. He also played two rounds in the State Open at Hackensack last week, his first State Open appearance.

He will try to qualify next week for the U.S. Amateur.

Siegler used a nine iron to ace the 136-yard fifth hole, the second ace of his career, the first coming three years ago at Laurel Creek. He watched as the ball hung up on a small hill, 20 feet from the hole, and then slowly rolled downhill and into the cup.

That highlighted a morning round of two-under-par 69 which tied him for the lead with Grinberg. In the morning, Siegler carded three birdies, three bogeys and the ace for an eagle.

The afternoon round, which started on the 10thtee, was a test for Siegler, who is a graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro North High School. He bogeyed the par-4 14thand 16thholes and the par-5 18thfor a 3-over-38.

“That’s where I thought I was falling out of contention. Of course, you want to win every tournament you enter, but realistically, I wanted to be in contention and then see what happened,” Siegler stated.

He turned things around with birdies on three of his final seven holes. He made his longest putt of the day, a 20-footer, for birdie on the par-4 third hole. Then birdied the fifth hole (where he got his ace) with a six-footer, and added a final birdie from five feet on the par-5 seventh hole.

“This year, my regimen improved, with my ball striking and ability to work my way around the course,” he said.

Carnes, 23, is a graduate of Monmouth Regional in his home town of Tinton Falls and is winding up a degree in finance at LaSalle University this summer.

He also qualified for the State Open for the first time and failed to make the cut.

“Now, I’m hitting fairways. I used to be extremely wild off the tee, just trying to hit it as far as I could,” he said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of time on my short game and that’s improved, too.

“I’m going to Florida this fall and see if I can earn a spot on a mini-tour.”

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