Hoffman leads Metropolitan Golf Association Open

SCARBOROUGH, N.Y. (August 24, 2011) – It was moving day at the 96th Met Open Championship sponsored by MetLife, and it lived up to its name on another picture-perfect day at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. The stage is now set for an entertaining final round of the 54-hole, stroke play championship, as 63 players survived the 36- hole cut, which came at 8-over-par 148.

The Met Area’s premier field of professionals and amateurs battled the winds and challenging greens on the 6,740-yard, par-70 layout, and through 36 holes 22-year-old  Morgan Hoffmann of Arcola holds a one-stroke lead. The 22-year- old former Walker Cupper and standout player at Oklahoma State, who turned professional in June and has been competing on the PGA and Nationwide Tours, followed up his first-round 67 with a one-under-par 69 today for a four- under 136 total.

“I was 2-under at the turn and then birdied the 10th, but struggled a bit coming in,” said Hoffmann. “The greens got really quick today. I feel confident going into tomorrow, and I’m just going to try to keep it going the way I have been.”

Hoffmann also remarked about being back in the Met Area after a summer of tournaments across the country. “It’s a real treat to be back. Like I said yesterday, the MGA is like family to me, and I haven’t played around here in a while, so it’s great to be home.”

Including Hoffmann, seven players are at even-par 140 or better and are within four strokes of the lead. Among them is  Joe Horowitz(pictured left) of Lido (137), who shot the round of the championship today, a 7-under 63. Horowitz, 32, shot a five- under 30 on the front nine, added three more birdies on 11, 12, and 13, and at eight under par was in position to equal the best round in Met Open history, a 62 shot by Sleepy Hollow’s Tim Hegarty at the Country Club of Fairfield in 2008. Following a bogey at the par-four 17th, Horowitz tapped in for his 63, which vaulted him into contention at three-under-par 137.

“When you shoot 63, you get pretty excited because it keeps you at least in the mix,” Horowitz said after his round. One of the key moments for him came on the eleventh hole, when the wind picked up and he had a 12-foot putt for birdie to bring his round to six under. After the putt dropped, Horowitz wanted more: “You start thinking to yourself ‘Okay, let’s get it to seven and eight under. Being 32 and having played professional golf for 8 years, you get to that number (8-under) and you just want more birdies.”

Joining Horowitz at three-under 137 is first-round leader David Schuster of Haverstraw, who had a one-over 71 today, and  Del Ponchock of Lido, who had a two-under 68 to join Hoffmann as the only two players to shoot two rounds in the 60s.

Still very much in the mix at one-under 139 are Tyler Hall of Packanack and four- time NJPGA Section champion  Frank Esposito of Brooklake. Last year’s Met Open runner- up, Danny Balin of Burning Tree, is at even-par 140 following a three-over 73 today.

There are a number of notable players within striking distance, including 2003 Ike champion Brad Tilley of Sleepy Hollow (141), 2011 New York State Open championRob Labritz  (141), and 1987 Met Open champion and former PGA Tour winner Jim McGovern of White Beeches, (142).

Four amateurs made the cut, and battling it out for low amateur honors will be 2011 MGA Senior Amateur champion John Ervasti of the host club, Sleepy Hollow and 2011 Met Amateur runner- up Sam Bernstein of Century, who both stand at six-over 146. One stroke behind them at 147 is amateur Ryan McCormick of Suburban, and at 148 is Gregg Angelillo of Baltusrol.

Due to the threat of thunderstorms and lightning on Thursday afternoon, final-round tee times were moved up to between 7:30 and 9:30, and players will begin off both the first and 10th tees. Live scoring on www.mgagolf.org a nd Facebook and Twitter updates available throughout the day.

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