KENILWORTH, NJ (July 12, 2016) -- It could be a classic duel of a long hitter versus a control player when co-leaders defending champion Tyler Hall of Upper Montclair and amateur Jeremy Nevius of Metuchen will be paired in the final grouping in the final round of the 96th New Jersey State Golf Association Open Championship on Wednesday at the par 71, 6,608-yard Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth.
The golfers, who both stand at nine-under-par, five shots better than third-place holder Brent Studer of Metedeconk National, will tee it up at 11:03 a.m. for the right to hoist the Carl W. Badenhausen Trophy, symbolic of the State Open Championship, which is sponsored by Lincoln Motor Cars.
Galloping Hill is the first public venue to host the State Open since Asbury Park Golf Club in 1930.
For pros like Hall (64-69-133) and Studer (71-67-38), irst-place prize money of $15,000 is on the line out of a total prize pool of $75,000.
Pros Alexander Hicks of Stone Harbor (70-69-139) and Richard Terga of Mountain Ridge (70-69-139) share fourth place, followed by pros Frank Esposito of Forsgate (70-70-140) and Dave McGovern of Brooklake and amateur Mike Stamberger of Spring Lake (72-68-140).
The 55 golfers who shot 148 or better for 36 holes return for Wednesday’s final round.
Nevius (65-68-133) is a rising senior at Campbell University who finished tied for sixth in last year’s State Open at Rockaway River. He carded six birdies and three bogeys on Tuesday and once again wielded a hot putter.
He is seeking to become only the 11th amateur to win the State Open, although Benjamin Smith of Little Mill won in 2012 and Max Greyserman of Crestmont won in 2014.
Nevius only putted 12 times in his first nine holes - the back nine at Galloping Hill – where he shot three-under 32 with three birdies against one bogey.
“My game today was scrappy. My swing today didn’t feel that great. It was a different day with a different swing . But to end this round this way feels really great,” said Nevius, a graduate of Metuchen High School who took up golf at age 6.
“Sometimes you catch some good breaks. I hit the ball really well with my wedges, which gave me close looks. I know I can play well on this course after the way I played on Monday (shooting a 65). Tomorrow, I’m sure it will be in my mind that (Hall) is defending champion, but I’ll try not to focus on that.
“I know (Hall) hits the ball as far as anyone out here. He’ll be tough to beat. His game will be completely different than my game. I’ll just try to play well. You never know what will happen on a golf course.”
Nevius three-putted from six feet for a bogey on his 10th hole, the par-4 first hole, but took it in stride.
“I just took the message my dad (James) gave me, to stay calm. To me, it’s all about feel out there. This course doesn’t favor one type of game. You can hit it long off the tee or short off the tee. I want to put the ball off the tee in a place where I can find the right approach shot to the green. I’m going to go out there and try to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Hall stumbled coming in, with bogey fives on his 16th and 18th holes , holes number seven and nine. Like Nevius, he also carded a 32 on his front nine and maintained is one-shot lead from Monday when he set a course record, breaking the mark of 65 set by Joe Birofka in the 1960s.
“I let that one get away from me,” said Hall, 35, a native of Wayne who won a state high school championship. “But the fire is lit for tomorrow. I played really strong on the front nine. But I missed a couple of shots. I had some bad yardages.
“I feel like I’ll be right there tomorrow. I feel like I put it together, I’ve got a chance,” Hall said.
Last year, Hall birdied three of his final six holes and opened a two-shot lead after two rounds of the State Open. He clinched it on the final day by notching birdies on three of the final four holes and won by seven shots.
“Today was moving day. It’s still right in front of me. I’ve got to drive it better, plain and simple,” said Hall, who is in his second year as director of instruction at Upper Montclair after spending 10 years on the PGA Tour mini-tour circuit.
“I feel good with my game. I know if I show up and play to my potential, I’ve got a real good chance to win this.”
Hall is seeking to become the first back-to-back champion since four-time champion Ed Whitman of Knickerbocker won in 1995 and 1996.
Veteran Studer, 51, had the low round of the day, a 67, to get him into contention in an event he has never won, but has twice finished as runner-up.
“The last two days, I’ve played well, but both days, I had a lot of bogeys. I’d like to be four or five shots better right now,” said the Manasquan resident who carded seven birdies and three bogeys on Tuesday.
“My ball striking was good, but I made some bad chips. It was a good solid round,” he said.
View results for New Jersey State Open Golf Championship