WEST ORANGE, N.J. (Oct. 17, 2011) –- On a cool and windy autumn day at Crestmont Country Club in West Orange, N.J., the Met Area’s top professionals and amateurs over the age of 50 collected to compete for the 15th MGA Senior Open Championship. With six former champions highlighting the field of 128, 2006 winner Bill Britton of Trump National-Colts Neck holds a share of the first-round lead with Don Brigham of Battleground after both players carded 4-under-par 68.
Britton’s day featured consistent play as the 1979 Met Open champion recorded four birdies and 14 pars. The blustery conditions were not enough to faze the 55-year-old Britton.
“The wind blew pretty hard most of the day, but the last few holes it calmed down for us.” Reflecting on his round, Britton went on to say “I chipped the ball beautifully—as good as I ever have—and I didn’t make any bogeys.” Britton is no stranger to the 6,459-yard Donald Ross layout, as he, and many other New Jersey section professionals, have competed here over the years. “We’ve played a number of tournaments here in the past. I’m definitely familiar with the greens, and for the guys that are playing here for the first time, they can be pretty difficult as there is a lot of local knowledge. You need to keep the ball below the hole.”
Like Britton, Brigham has a deep familiarity with Crestmont, which he attributes in large part to the efforts of Crestmont’s longtime head professional Peter Famiano, the 2002 winner of this event who passed away in 2009. “Pete was a wonderful guy and when I first came to New Jersey, he was most generous with his time in helping me get settled. Whenever we had a tournament that needed a course, Pete would step up and offer his course.”
Three other Met Open winners round out the top five, including 2005 and 2003 MGA Senior Open champion Darrell Kestner of Deepdale (1995, 1983 & 1982 Met Opens), who can become the first player in history to win this event three times, and 1997 Met Open winner Mike Burke Jr. of Montammy, who both finished at 3-under 69; and Mike Diffley of Pelham (1991 Met Open), who is alone in fifth place after a 1-under 71.
In total, 40 players survived the cut, including 10 amateurs. Other notable players to make the cut include two-time Met Open champion Rick Hartmann of Atlantic (73); two-time MGA Senior Open winner Bobby Heins of Old Oaks (76); and ten-time MGA Player of the Year George Zahringer III of Deepdale (76).
Tuesday’s final round begins at 8:30 a.m. as players compete for the $5,000 winner’s share of the $25,000 purse.
View results for Metropolitan Golf Association Senior Open Golf Championship