DEMAREST, N.J. (August 26, 2014) — Alpine Country Club’s own amateur Adam Kugler won the 18th MGA Senior Open today at his home course, making him only the second amateur in the event’s history to win the championship. Kugler fired rounds of 69 and 68 for a 7-under total of 137 in the 36-hole event. The 24-time Club Champion at Alpine didn’t think there was a chance in the world he would claim victory the way he did.
“That’s a phenomenal score for me,” Kugler said. “Never would I have considered [7-under] a possibility.”
The 56-year-old’s first round featured no bogeys for a 3-under 69. His second round included two bogeys, but four birdies and an unbelievable eagle on the par 5 9th for a 4-under 32 on the front gave Kugler some confidence heading to his back nine in the final round.
“I felt that was a pretty good nine,” he said. “I just played hole by hole. I just wanted to play decent and have a good showing.”
Kugler had more than just a good showing and the gallery of Alpine members on hand to watch certainly solidified that.
“That was great, to win an event this big, I’ve never done it before,” he said. “It was obviously always a goal and winning it your home course is great because my friends were paying attention. Most of the time when I am playing somewhere else they wouldn’t even know I did so.”
As only the second amateur to win the event, everybody will be paying attention now. He joins John Ervasti in that category, who won the event in 2010 at Rolling Hills. Kugler is happy to now be one of the notable guys.
“While I’m an amateur, I am retired, so I probably play more golf then everybody else does,” Kugler said. “But these guys have been marquee players in the Metropolitan Area for many years. Just to be considered one of the guys is a big deal for me.”
Kugler defeated some of the top professionals in the Met Area, including a past champion of this event, Darrell Kestner of Deepdale. Kestner, two-time MGA Senior Open Champion (2005 and 2003), fired rounds of 70 and 71 for a total of 3-under 141.
“If I couldn’t win I was pulling for Adam or George [Zahringer III], one of the two amateurs,” Kestner said. “I gave it a good run, Adam played spectacular and the local knowledge went a long way.”
Kestner got to 4-under at one point thanks to 2-under 34 on his front, but a 1-over 37 on the back wouldn’t be enough. “I gave myself plenty of chances,” he said. “I just missed a few makeable putts, but it was a good test.
Earning co-runner up honors and tied with Kestner at 3-under total was Frank Esposito Jr. of Brooklake. Esposito, with four wins already this season, stumbled to a 1-over 73 in his first round and fought back with an outstanding 4-under 68 in his second round. Esposito is one of the top players in the Met Area and is the reigning New Jersey Senior Open, NJPGA Head Pro, and NJPGA Match Play champion. He was just recently at Valhalla where he played in the PGA Championship.
Amateur George Zahringer III of Deepdale and Gary Ostrega of Hyatt Hills finished at two-under for the championship, five strokes behind Kugler.
With scores of 1-under 143, David Young of Sleepy Hollow and Rick Vershure of Quaker Ridge finished tied for sixth. Mark McCormick of Suburban and Jerry Courville Jr. of Shorehaven finished at even par, and amateur Patrick Pierson of Minisceongo was a stroke behind at 1-over in his first year of eligibility for the senior open.
Alpine’s testing greens and hilly layout were an excellent challenge for the field during the two-day competition. The players spoke highly of the course, which was in excellent condition for the starting field of 112 players.
The 2015 edition of the MGA Senior Open will be played at Engineers Country Club in Roslyn, N.Y.
-Photo and story by the Metropolitan Golf Association
View results for Metropolitan Golf Association Senior Open Golf Championship