PARAMUS, N.J. -- Two-time and defending champion Trevor Randolph of Arcola, clubmate Dan Macdonald, and top veteran Niall Handley of Essex Fells all fired rounds of two-under-par 70 to take the top three seeds of the 32nd NJSGA Mid-Amateur championship match play during Tuesday’s stroke-play qualifier at the 6,779-yard Arcola Country Club in Paramus.
The top 16 golfers return for Wednesday’s Round of 16 in the morning and quarterfinals in the afternoon, followed by the semifinals and final to be held on Thursday.
Randolph, who won last year at Laurel Creek in Mount Laurel and drove 2-1/2 hours each way from his home in Franklin Lakes, is the top seed and will face No. 16 seed Jim Dufficy of Hominy Hill off the first tee at 7:30.
MacDonald, 34, who lives in Ridgewood, faces No. 15 seed Bill Charpek of Navesink, the 2015 Senior Amateur champion, at 7:30 off the 10th tee. Handley, a two-time Met Mid-Amateur champion, is the No. 3 seed and faces Marc Grinberg of Charleston Springs at 7:48 off the No. 10 tee.
“I’m very excited about having a chance to win here. I don’t think about the ‘defending champion’ thing. There’s so many good players here. You just have to take it one shot at a time,” said Randolph, who returned Monday night from the Maryland area where he won his fifth club championship at Congressional.
“I love this course. You’ve got to know the greens, and know where not to hit the ball, although I hit some bad shots coming in, including a bogey when I missed the green on 18. I’ve just got to get some rest. I played well at Congressional. I was 18 under in five matches over the weekend,” said Randolph, 42, a native of Washington, D.C., who is a manager director for Credit Suisse in New York in equity derivatives.
Randolph last year competed in U.S. Mid-Amateur at Saucon Valley Country Club, in Bethlehem, Pa. Also in 2014, he was co-runner-up in the NJSGA Amateur. He was named captain of the New Jersey Team that competed in the USGA National State Team championship.
Macdonald won the Arcola club championship in 2014 as Randolph didn’t participate with a back injury. Macdonald reached the semifinals of the NJSGA Four-Ball championship four weeks ago with partner Devin Drobbin of Hollywood.
He is a native of Manhasset, N.Y., and played golf at the University of Maryland, winning the St. John’s Invitational.
“This is the first year I’m really playing in New Jersey (NJSGA) events,” said Macdonald, who was runner-up in the Arcola Cup. He was given in exemption into Tuesday’s qualifier as the host club’s reigning champion. “It’s my first time in the Mid-Amateur. I’ve been knocking on the door in those other events.
“Being around Trevor and other great golfers here is good. It would be great if we met in the finals. I know if I’m playing him, then I’m doing well. Trevor’s game travels anywhere.”
Macdonald admitted that local knowledge is a good thing to have at a course like Arcola, which recently underwent renovations.
“The greens are slick. They challenge you out here. You want to be below the hole, where you can be aggressive. What you see is what you get. It always helps knowing where to hit it here. It’s a nice level of comfort when I’m standing on the tee box.”
Handley, a multiple-time semifinalist in the event, had his 13-year-old son Conor on his bag, and said it helped him concentrate on yardage. Handley’s only bogey came on the par-4 13th hole when he blocked an iron shot into the water.
“I didn’t have a good summer, but the last couple of weeks I’ve been starting to find my game. I’m hitting the driver straight,” said the native of Ireland who came to the U.S. to play college soccer and also played golf at FDU.
“This course is unbelievable. There’s been so many changes here in the past five years. You’ve got to be a good lag putter here. I hit it very solid all day and made a lot of four and five-footers,” said Handley the State Open runner-up in 2012.
View results for New Jersey Mid-Amateur Golf Championship