FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (July 12, 2012) - A year after being on the short end of a thrilling playoff to decide the MGA/MetLife Public Links Championship at Hominy Hill Golf Course and three years after finishing one shot back at the Links at Shirley, Eric Lefante of MGA eClub – New Jersey ran away from a packed first-round leaderboard to claim his first MGA title at the famed Bethpage Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y. His second-round 1-under 70 was good enough to fend off a strong charge by 2009 MGA/MetLife Boys champion Mark Reilly of Peninsula, who was one of the few players within striking distance of Lefante in the afternoon. And thanks to volunteers of The First Tee of Metropolitan New York at Eisenhower Park, the public was able to follow the action online as they captured live scoring through wi-fi tablets for the leading groups.
“I’ve been thinking of this tournament for a while, and you know, I love Bethpage, I come to this course once or twice a year,” Lefante said. “I didn’t want to think too far ahead, but I thought I had a chance today.”
Prime scoring conditions greeted the field of 57 in the morning, as winds were low and the course, which normally plays over 7,400 yards from the back tees, played just under 7,000 for the championship. Lefante opened the championship with a solid 1-over 72, which had him only one shot back of early leaders Kevin McSorley of Monmouth Golfers and Cahal McMonagle of Hiberian Golf Association, both of whom opened with 71s. But Lefante, 25, started his second-round with a blazing 3-under 33 on the front nine, which included an eagle on the par-5 7th and birdies at No. 4 and 6.
“When I started the second round, I thought I needed to make birdies, but as the wind picked up, I knew it got tougher,” Lefante said. “I didn’t know where I stood till the 15th hole. Then I kind of knew pars were good for the rest of the way out.”
Reilly also got hot and fired a 33 on the front, which included birdies at No. 1, 4, and 5. His 1-under 70 matched Lefante’s for low round of the tournament and left him with a runner-up finish and plenty of momentum heading into the 95th Met Junior next week.
“I birdied the first hole and knew that the round was going to be pretty good,” said Reilly, who’s entering his senior year of high school. “I parred so many holes, but I knew I needed one or two more [birdies]. I three-putted 10 and 14, which was killer, but it was a really fun day, I played great. I’m just happy I’m playing good golf.”
Three-time MGA champion David Pastore of Griffith Harris Men’s Club followed up a 75 with a second-round 72 to take home third-place honors (147). Jack Maerki of Bethpage opened with a 76 but closed with a 72 (148) to finish T4 with John Jackopsic, who was fresh off an appearance in the U.S. Public Links in Midway, Utah. Michael Fisher of McCann and Darren Johnston of MGA eClub - NYC tied for sixth with totals of 150. Ryan Williams of Bethpage closed with a 74 to finish at 151 and tied for eighth with Christian Dolan of Timber Point and Derrick Kim of Rivervale.
This was the eighth time Bethpage has played host to the MGA/MetLife Public Links and most recent since Mark Farrell won in 2005. Next year, the championship will return to Richter Park Golf Course in Danbury, Connecticut, on July 11, 2013. The top five finishers from this year’s championship are exempt into next year’s edition.
View results for Metropolitan Golf Association Public Links Golf Championship