Champion Jay Blumenfeld (NJGA photo)
SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. (August 3, 2016) -- It was quite a good thing Jay Blumenfeld of Mountain Ridge sank his six-footer birdie putt on the 18th hole.
“In my mind, I thought I needed a par to win. I didn’t think I needed a birdie, so it’s a good thing I got one,” said Blumenfeld, who shot 71-73-144 to win the 58th NJSGA Senior Amateur Championship by one shot over Tom Hassel of Manasquan River (71-74-145) and Todd Wood of Fairmount (75-70-145) at 6,441-yard Shackamaxon Country
Blumenfeld, 64, who was said to be battling hip and back issues, carded two birdies and five bogeys to win the Senior Amateur for a second time, also winning in 2014 at Deal. His 73 was the second lowest round of the day to Wood in the Senior Amateur, for golfers age 55 and above. He is one of the oldest champions ever in the event.
In the concurrent Sixth Super Senior, for golfers age 65 and above, Bill Henry of Forsgate also shot 73 for a 148 total, then defeated defending champion Jim Byer of Springdale (73-76-148) in one extra hole, the 437-yard, par-5 10th, when he won with a birdie.
“Last year, I tied for second and I was very disappointed,” said Blumenfeld, who dedicated the victory to his late uncle, Harold Cohen, a former president at Shackamaxon. “I couldn’t close it out.”
On his 18th hole, Blumenfeld hit a knock-down nine iron from 117 yards to get within six feet of the hole.
“That was among the longest putts I made in two days here. The greens were nice today. I hit a lot of good shots,” said Blumenfeld, a Parsippany resident who is in life and health insurance sales. “On the back nine, I didn’t drive it that great and hit some bad drives that cost me. I hit seven greens on the front., though. “
Blumenfeld is a two-time NJSGA Amateur Player of the Year, named in 2006 and 2009, He is a 23-time club champion at Mountain Ridge.
In 2013, Blumenfeld was runner-up to Allan Small of Fairmount, who won for a third straight time. In 2010, he was second to Tom DiiCinti of Centerton. Blumenfeld won the Met Senior Amateur for a second time in 2014. He also participated in the U.S. Senior Amateur at Mountain Ridge in 2012.
Hassel was T-2 for the second year in a row. “That’s golf. I had fun out there,” said the Brielle resident.
Henry said his three-wood shot from 241 yards in the rough on the first playoff hole that ended 20 feet from the hole was “probably the best shot I hit in my life. It felt like a miracle, like I was in the movie ‘Caddyshack.’ “
He then two-putted from 20 feet for the birdie victory over Byer, a two-time champion.
“I started the day three shots behind Jim (Byer). I didn’t have a strategy. I just wanted a good tempo and to stay slow. I’ve been a member here at Shackamaxon the past five years so I had a little local knowledge,” said Henry, who lives in Cranford.
Henry, 65, a part-time magician, needed some magic to pull even with Byer on his final two holes. He birdied No. 8, his next-to-last hole, but on his final hole, No. 9, his wayward drive cozied up to a tree root and he was forced to take a drop for an unplayable lie.
“I might have been able to come straight down on it and get it out with a wedge. The only problem was I left my wedge behind on the seventh hole,” Henry recounted.
So he took his bogey and went onto a playoff hole he’ll never forget.
“Next year, I’m going back to the Senior Amateur. After 40 years of trying I finally won something in New Jersey,” said Henry, who won the New York City Amateur in 2009 and qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur.
View results for New Jersey Senior Amateur Golf Championship