WILTON, Conn. (August 31, 2010) – On a scorching summer day at Rolling Hills Country Club, John Ervasti of Sleepy Hollow became the first amateur winner in the 14-year history of the MGA Senior Open Championship. Ervasti beat out a talented field of top professional and amateur golfers, including two-time defending champion Bobby Heins of Old Oaks, who began the day with a two-stroke lead but came up just short of completing the three-peat after a five-over 75. Ervasti, the 2009 Met Amateur runner-up, shot an even-par 70 for a two-day total of two-over-par 142. He finished one stroke clear of Heins.
“It was an interesting round,” said Ervasti. “I birdied the first two holes and had a little momentum there at the beginning, but this is a difficult golf course so it’s easy to make bogeys, and I did. But then I settled down and I’m very happy to win this.”
Other top finishers included three-time Met Amateur champion Jerry Courville Jr. of Shorehaven, who shot the best round of the final day, a two-under-par 68, and finished in a tie for third at two-over 144 with Pete Busch of Galloping Hill and past Met Open champions Mike Diffley of Pelham and Mike Burke of Montammy. One stroke behind them at three-over 145 were David Laudien of Howell Park, who tied Courville for the round of the day with a 68, and 2006 MGA Senior Open champion Bill Britton of Trump National-Colts Neck.
Ervasti started his second round hot as he birdied the first two holes and made the turn in one under. He then bookended two bogeys, on the 10th and 12th holes, around a holed-out bunker shot for birdie on the 11th hole. He added another birdie on the 16th and came to the 18th hole one shot behind Heins, who despite struggling a bit today continued to hold the lead for most of the final round.
On 18, Ervasti pulled his tee shot left near a rock wall. With what he figured was a flier lie, Ervasti hit a 4-iron that came up short and right of the green. He managed to chip up to the green, and was left with a 12-foot uphill putt to save par. Ervasti knocked in the par-saving putt, which would eventually prove to be the winner. After knocking on the door with runner-up finishes at the 2009 Met Amateur and 2009 and 2008 MGA Mid-Amateurs, Ervasti was surprised and excited to break through for his first MGA victory.
“I got very lucky on the back nine,” he said. “I holed a bunker shot for birdie and then settled down and made a few pars going into the last hole. The 18th here is a very tough hole and I was left with a tough chip. I told myself on the putt to execute and make a good stroke and if it goes in the hole, it goes in.”
Ervasti is very aware of the high level of competition among the 50-and-over players in the Met Area. “We have such great pros in this area so it is really neat to come out on top.” For someone who doesn’t make his living on the golf course, Ervasti has to carefully balance golf, family and his career. Before yesterday’s first round, Ervasti was in early to his Manhattan office, putting in a half day of work before driving to Rolling Hills for his afternoon tee time.
Heins, the first-round leader after firing a 68, was in the driver’s seat for much of the second round. After leading by as much as five shots midway through the front nine, he began to struggle going into the turn. Things escalated when Heins made bogeys on 13, 15, and missed a four-foot par putt on the 17th that moved him back into a tie with Ervasti at 2-over par. Heins blasted a drive down the middle of the fairway on the home hole, but hit a hybrid from 191 yards into a collection area just to the side of the green. After playing a bump and run onto the green, Heins was faced with an 8-footer that mirrored the line Ervasti had earlier, but he missed it to the left and tapped in for bogey. Heins was the low professional and took home the $5,000 top prize of the $25,000 purse.
View results for Metropolitan Golf Association Senior Open Golf Championship