SUMMIT, NJ (June 5, 2013) -- It came down to the final putt and 41-year-old Mike Stamberger of Spring Lake was able to achieve a championship he never thought he would win - the 112th New Jersey State Golf Association Amateur after a 36-hole final on Thursday, June 6, at the Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit.
Stamberger shot a four-round total of three-over par 29, including a 6-over-par 78 on his final round, for a one-stroke victory over 19-year-old Jimmy Dengler of Rumson after leading by as many as eight shots late in his third round on Thursday morning to claim the Edwin M. Wild Championship Trophy. Dengler, with a 74 in the final round, shaved four shots off Stamberger’s lead, but never tied him.
Defending Champion Ryan McCormick of Suburban made a late rally with a 75 and finished third.
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“It was a struggle. It was good to have the big lead that I had,” said Stamberger, whose previous best finish in the State Amateur was a tie for third place in 2001. “I never thought I would win this because these college kids are so good.
“They don’t have any fear. When I played a practice round here on Saturday, I said I had to play here in this event. I saw that you just can’t come out here and bomb it. Putting would be a challenge and I knew par would be a pretty good score.”
Stamberger, who won the 2008 NJSGA Mid-Amateur championship and the 2003 Met Amateur, withstood a challenge from Dengler over the final nine holes. Dengler made up two critical shots with pars against bogeys for Stamberger on the par-3 11th hole and the par-4 15th hole to get within one shot.
While Stamberger bogeyed the par-4 16th, Dengler faced an eight-foot putt for a par to tie the match. His putt instead went four feet past the cup, and when he couldn’t convert that return putt, he had double bogeyed and given Stamberger a two-stroke lead with two to play.
But Dengler wasn’t finished. He hit a great drive to 110 yards on the par-4 17th, and then placed his approach shot to the back left of the green, 18 feet from the pin. Stamberger failed on his birdie attempt and settled for par, but Dengler curled in that 18-footer to again get within a single stroke.
Stamberger, however, played the par-5 18th hole perfectly, putting his approach 10 feet beyond the hole. Dengler couldn’t convert a 25-foot birdie putt and Stamberger finally made par on a comeback four-foot putt to claim the elusive victory.
“I didn’t win in the past because I didn’t have the patience. I do now more than ever,” said Stamberger, an equity salesman who has four children and lives in Brielle. “I see how things happen. I used to get frustrated. This is pretty special because I was able to win in front of a lot of people I know.”
Dengler, a sophomore to be at Loyola of Maryland, has never won an individual championship, but was on a Tournament of Champions team for Christian Brothers Academy in 2012, and on Loyola’s conference championship this spring.
“I knew I had to make birdies, because Mike is such a steady player,” said Dengler, the eldest of four children, including two younger brothers at CBA. “16 was my opportunity right there. But this is such a confidence builder for me. I know I can compete with the these guys, the Ryan McCormicks and Mike Stambergers of the world.”
View results for New Jersey State Amateur Golf Championship