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VanHyning wins New Jersey Men's Public Links
PRINCETON JUNCTION, N.J. (July 19, 2012) -- Justin VanHyning of Mercer Oaks made up nine strokes over the final 18 holes, then won with a birdie on the third playoff hole to win the 36-hole 8th NJSGA Men’s Public Links Championship at the Mercer Oaks (East) Golf Course in West Windsor.

VanHyning, 31, a former NJSGA Billy Y. Dear Junior Champion and Met Junior champion, who lives in nearby East Windsor, edged two-time Publinx champion Eric LeFante of Hominy Hill, winner last week of the Met Public Links, in a three-hole playoff when he drained a five-foot putt that hung on the lip and fell in on the par-3 12th hole. LeFante had shot a sizzling 7-under-par 65 to take a six-shot lead after the morning session.

VanHyning (69-143) shot a 2-over-par 74 in the morning round and found himself trailing LeFante (78-143) by nine shots entering the afternoon session. That’s when VanHyning, a production manager at a printing plant, put together is 69 with four birdies and a bogey. LeFante, meanwhile, struggled to his 78 with seven bogeys and one birdie.

Last year’s champion, Anthony Aloi of Mercer Oaks (71-144) and Max Bichsel of Neshanic Valley (72-144) tied for third. Seton Hall senior Marc Kunesch of Rolling Hills was fifth at 72-145.

“The last couple years, since I got married, I don’t have a lot of time to play,” said VanHyning, a former Seton Hall golfer who won the Navy Invitational as a collegian and also qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Eastlake in 2002.

“I made a couple of mistakes in the morning, spraying the ball off the tee. In the afternoon, I just wanted to keep the ball in front of me and it made a big difference.”

On the decisive third playoff hole, the 192-yard 12th that VanHyning had birdied in the afternoon, LeFante left his tee shot 15 feet to the right of the cup and missed his birdie try. VanHyning, pin high to the left of the hole, watched as his ball track to the right edge, hang on the lip, and fall in.

“As soon as I hit it, I thought I made it. It’s tough not to get the ball to finish down that slope. It lost pace, but luckily, gravity was on my side.” LeFante, who won the Publinx in 2009 and ’10, needed to make a five-foot par putt to get to the playoff on the par-5 18th hole.

“The afternoon was a struggle. Two years ago, I had a four-stroke led and kept building on it, but today I couldn’t stay focus . I tried not to get too far ahead of myself, but I couldn’t do it one stroke at a time,” said LeFante, who was bidding to match Aloi who last year won both the NJSGA and Met Publinx titles.

LeFante , 25, who just last Thursday won the 65th Met Public Links championship at Bethpage Black, carded eight birfdies before getting one bogey in the morning to take a six-shot lead after the first round.

Going into the afternoon final 18 holes, LeFante held the six-shot lead over Dom DeMichino of Sunset Valley, and a seven-stroke lead over John Lovett of Charleston Springs and Bichsel. Playing partner Aloi, the defending champion, Kunesch and Drew McMahon of Preakness Valley all carded 2-over-par 73s. VanHyning was next at 74.

In the morning, LeFante birdied each of his first three holes, then added a birdie on the par-4 ninth hole to record a 4-under-par 32 on the front side.

LeFante continued his birdie barrage on the back nine, hitting birdies on the par-4 11th hole, the par-3 12th, and par-4 14th and the par-3 16th to go 8-under-par. The only blemish on his card was a bogey on the par-4 17th hole.

“I like playing this course. I played it a lot in college and I was happy when I found out the tournament would be played here,” said the graduate of nearby Rider Unicersity. “I putted well, hit nice shots into the green and converted the putts.”

LeFante, a native of Colts Neck who now works in finance in Philadelphia, while residing in Branchburg, said he tried not to think of his success last week in the Met Publinx.

“I tried to forget that. It happened last week. Yes, it was a confidence booster, but I tried not to think about it,” he said.

LeFante, who won the State Publinx title in 2009 and ’10, birdied each of his first three holes, then added a birdie on the par-4 ninth hole to record a 4-under-par 32 on the front side.

LeFante continued his birdie barrage on the back nine, hitting birdies on the par-4 11th hole, the par-3 12th, and par-4 14th and the par-3 16th to go 8-under-par. The only blemish on his card was a bogey on the par-4 17th hole.

“I like playing this course. I played it a lot in college and I was happy when I found out the tournament would be played here,” said the graduate of nearby Rider Unicersity. “I putted well, hit nice shots into the green and converted the putts.”

LeFante, a native of Colts Neck who now works in finance in Philadelphia, while residing in Branchburg, said he tried not to think of his success last week in the Met Publinx.

“I tried to forget that. It happened last week. Yes, it was a confidence booster, but I tried not to think about it,” he said.

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