OLD WESTBURY, NY (August 18, 2005) -- Second round leader John Stoltz of Concord won the 90th Met Open Championship in a three-hole playoff with Muttontown’s Craig Thomas. Stoltz birdied the final hole in the three hole total stroke playoff to become the seventh amateur to win the region’s most important title. In regulation, Thomas eagled the 16th hole and birdied the 18th to tie Stoltz at 211 and force the playoff.
With the field whittled down from 144 players to 62, and with eight former Met Open champions in the final field-including three multiple Open winners-the stage was set for an unforgettable final round at the 90th Met Open Championship, sponsored by MetLife, at Old Westbury Golf & Country Club in Old Westbury, NY. Old Westbury, however, would prove a worthy adversary, allowing only one sub-par round on the final day, meaning the leaders would have to stop the bleeding rather than go on the offensive. John Stoltz, who started the round with a three shot lead, controlled his game throughout the round despite challenges from Thomas, Darrell Kestner of Deepdale, Frank Esposito, Jr. of Brooklake, Tam O’Shanter’s Mark Brown and Tarik Can of Bethpage to claim the 2005 Met Open Championship.
Stoltz got off to a rocky start in the final round, opening the door for the rest of the field. He bogeyed the par-4 second hole and five putted the par-5 sixth green to take a triple bogey to open the door for the rest of the field. Kirk Satterfield of Deepdale, who was in the final pairing with Stoltz, also had a rough nine, starting off with bogey, double bogey, bogey to go four-over par and would finish at plus three for the tournament.
2004 Met PGA Player of the Year Craig Thomas would quietly remain among the leaders throughout the day and walking up to the 18th tee was one back from Stoltz. Thomas would hit his second shot on the uphill par-4 to within five feet and confidently drain the putt to place himself in a tie for the lead with Stoltz who was teeing off on 18.
“I didn’t really know I was that close to the lead,” said a frustrated Thomas. “It wasn’t until the 16th hole that I saw leader board and knew that I had a legitimate shot at it.”
After the rough front nine, Stoltz settled down with four straight pars to start the back. Unfortunately, the calm ended with a double bogey at the par-3 14th. “I only had two bad holes really, the triple bogey on six and the double on fourteen,” said a relieved Stoltz. “So I felt I was playing fairly well. It was just those two holes that really let everyone else back in it.”
After a perfectly placed tee shot on 18, Stoltz could hear the cheers from the crowd ahead as Thomas made his birdie putt to also go two-under. Stoltz hit his approach shot on the green and after missing his birdie attempt, knocked in his par putt to force the playoff.
“I knew the playoff was just going to be a situation where whoever made a mistake first would lose,” said Stoltz. “I just tried not to make mistakes.”
On the first hole of the three hole aggregate playoff, the difficult par-4 10th, both Stoltz and Thomas would hit almost identical approach shots to the green and both two putted for par. After matching pars on the demanding uphill 235-yard par-3 17th, Stoltz would get his break when Thomas put his tee shot in the trees on the right, leaving him no choice but to punch out into the fairway, while Stoltz, seeing his chance, nestled his approach shot to within six feet. Thomas hit his third shot to 25 feet and when he missed the putt and made bogey five, the outcome was sealed. Stoltz struck his putt firmly into the cup for a birdie and the 2005 Met Open Championship.
Stoltz becomes just the seventh amateur to win the title and is the third in the last five years to do so, the others being Johnson Wagner and Andrew Svoboda. Stoltz also receives the trophy, while Craig Thomas receives the low professional check of $23,000. Stoltz is entering his senior year at Johnson & Wales University in Miami, FL.
For complete results, click on the tournament link above (amateurgolf.com membership requested).