MORRISTOWN, N.J. — State Open champion Max Greyserman of Crestmont is making a case for being a strong finisher.
Last July, he had to overcome a two-shot deficit with nine holes to go to defeat defending champion Frank Esposito Jr. of Brooklake to win the State Open.
On Thursday, Greyserman, a rising junior at Duke University, overcame a six-shot deficit heading into the final 18 holes, and a three-shot deficit with six holes remaining in the 114th New Jersey State Golf Association Amateur Championship at the 6,448-yard, par-70 Morris County Golf Club in Morristown.
He shot 70-64 yesterday after rounds of 69-74 on Tuesday and Wednesday for a 277 total, edging John Voetsch of Baltusrol (71-69-67-71-278). Steve Zychowski of Mendham was third at 284. The low 15 at 297 or better received exemptions into next year’s State Amateur at Montammy.
When Greyserman sank a 25-foot putt on the 18th hole, he took his first lead of the championship, by one shot over third-round leader John Voestch of Baltusrol. Greyserman then waited patiently for Voetsch, playing two pairings behind, and was finally able to exhale when Voetsch missed a potential tying 10-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have forced a playoff.
Greyserman’s record 64 over the final 18 holes included an amazing nine birdies against three bogeys. His was the first 64 ever recorded in State Amateur competition (since record-keeping began in 1971). The six-under 64 was third at that number in the event, and the only one posted in the final round.
Greyserman, 20, is the first to hold both the Open and Amateur titles at the same time since Charles Whitehead of Plainfield in 1942.
“I’m really happy and impressed with the way I played in the final round. To hold both simultaneously means a lot to me. This one has really been a goal of mine ever since I won the New Jersey Open” he said.
Greyserman had four birdies and two bogeys on the front nine of his final round. On the back nine, he was a birdie machine with five birdies, but his bogey on the par-4 16th hole gave Voetsch a one-shot lead.
But Greyserman’s tee shot on the par-3 17th 12 feet to the right of the hole and he made that putt for a birdie and another tie for the lead. The final 25-footer on 18 meant everything.
“My putt earlier in the day at 18 was from five feet and I missed it. The 25-footer was a little left to right and uphill and about one-and-a-half cups to the left. I felt like I knew I had to make it, but as I saw it rolling I thought it might be short.”
When it fell in the hole, Greyserman gave it a Tiger-like fist pump, showing his only emotion of the day.
“I was trying to keep my cool, but I did get a little nervous on 18,” he said. When Greyserman won the Open, it came on his brother Dean's 11th birthday. Yesterday, it was a day before brother Reed's 10th birthday.
Voetsch, meanwhile, parred out on both 17 and 18 and nearly forced a playoff.“I had my chances, but I had a plan and I kept it all together. Max just won it. Hat’s off to him,” said Voetsch, 21, the Vanderbilt rising senior . “I played solid the final 36 holes and had one bad shot. I can take a lot from this.”
Greyserman, a rising sophomore at Duke University who lives in Short Hills, fired a the second of back-to-back 68s to record a three-day total of 6-under-par 207 to win the State Open at Essex County last July. He was three shots clear of Esposito (72-210) and Mike Stamberger (71-210) of Spring Lake who won the previous two State Amateurs.
Greyserman, who turned 20 on May 31, last became the 10th amateur to win the State Open, but the fourth in the past 10 years.
Voetsch played solidly in the third round, recording four birdies and a lone bogey to take the six-shot lead (207 to Greyserman’s 213).
“He hit it perfect. Everything was right down the middle,” said playing partner Kieran Purcell of Essex County. “His irons were to the center of the green. He even putted it solid. He hit one bad shot the entire time. John hit the ball fantastic.”
Voetsch and Purcell teed off on the 10th.Voetsch birdied the par-5 11th and par-4 12th. His only “bad shot” came on the par-4 18th, where he settled for a bogey.
On his other nine, Voetsch birdied the par-4 first hole and par-4 seventh to go 3-under for the third round and build a six-shot lead with his 207 over Greyserman (213), and a nine-shot bulge over Thomas LaMorte of Haworth (216), a rising sophomore at Campbell, and former Holy Cross player Steve Zychowski of Mendham (216).
Greyserman shot even par for the third round with four birdies and bogeys.
“This afternoon I just have to stay in the present, stay with the process, and just focus and go shot by shot and not look ahead. I want to keep my foot on the gas pedal and not do anything that gets me in trouble,” said Voetsch during his 45-minute break between the third and fourth rounds. “I played well this morning. It was good, solid all day.”
The majority of the field struggled with the speed and undulations of the greens.
“The greens were tough to read,” said former Amateur champion Brian Komline of Black Oak. “You’d line it up one way and it would break the other.”
View results for New Jersey State Amateur Golf Championship