Photo courtsey of New Jersey State Golf Association
After the torrential downpour of Hurricane Elsa subsided, Michael Brown
of Rock Spring Golf Course hoisted the Edwin M. Wild Trophy and was crowned the 120th New Jersey State Golf Association Amateur Champion presented by Provident Bank.
“I'm over the moon to be the New Jersey State Amateur Champion,” expressed Brown. “The history, the names that are on this trophy, it's incredible to be part of that group.”
Brown, 48, shot a final round 2-under 68 on Friday afternoon at Essex Fells Country Club as he led wire-to-wire en route to his first NJSGA Amateur title. Brown also owns amateur titles in Pennsylvania (2020) and Delaware (2021).
"I never put much thought into it,” Brown said. “Pennsylvania, I've had for a little while. Delaware was a few weeks ago. I thought, fleetingly, wouldn't it be interesting to win a third? As things got tight down the back, I thought this could happen. I don't know how or why, but I just keep practicing and trying and once in a while something good happens."
Thursday’s finale was delayed after severe weather hit the area. The groundskeeping staff at Essex Fells worked tirelessly Friday morning following the three inches of overnight rain.
Brown went into Friday's round with a one-stroke lead over Max O’Hagan
and Reed Greyserman.
“I was trying to process the idea that I had a big lead, and then I had a one shot lead," explained Brown. "I felt down, because it's much easier to have a five shot lead than one shot. I was trying to convince myself that I was in a good position, and I was in a good position, because if you had asked me, one shot lead going into round four, absolutely I would take my chances with that. The weather break was probably the best thing that happened to me because I rallied my emotions, talked to my family, and they got me re-centered.”
Brown compiled an impressive 17 birdies over 72 holes of action.
Doug Ergood of Tavistock Country Club finished in second place at 3-under par for the tournament. The University of North Carolina student-athlete put together a 3-under 67 on Friday after playing his first 54 holes at even-par.
“Something that I learned is to always get a practice round so you can get a feel for the course coming in. First round, I came in blind, so that 73 was partially due to that,” Ergood reflected. “Climbing up the hill, starting way back on the leaderboard is tough. I love the way I fought back over the past three rounds. I look forward to continuing to play in this state am. The competition in our state is so good, so coming in second is a really big accomplishment for me.”
Brown seized the championship by shooting a 3-under par 32 on the back nine on Friday. He made the turn 1-over par for the round and 3-under for the tournament, tied for the lead at that point with two other players. But Brown birdied the 11th, got up-and-down for par at No. 12 and No. 13, and then made back-to-back birdies at No. 14 and No. 15. By that point, Brown had grabbed a three-stroke advantage with three holes to play.
“The shot that changed the direction of everything was on No. 13, where I got up-and-down out of the green side bunker to the right, and I would not get that ball up-and-down 99-out-of-100 times. I birdied the next two holes, feeling really good about things,” Brown recapped with a smile. “That put me to 6-under total, and I'm thinking to myself, the next few holes are everything. I made a six-footer for par on 16, then I birdied 17. I said, I've got to be close now. When I checked, I was shocked to see I had four shots in hand."
Max O’Hagan finished in solo third at 2-under par. Reed Greyserman flew up the leaderboard over the final two rounds, shooting 64-69 to finish alone in fourth place at 1-under. Monmouth University’s Ron Robinson shot 4-under 66 in the final round to finish in fifth place at at even-par. The top-15 and ties (+6 and better) earned an exemption into the 2022 NJSGA Amateur Championship.
This was Brown’s second NJSGA title. He won the 37th Mid-Amateur Championship in 2020 at North Jersey Country Club.
"I've never been in that position before," Brown said. "I've never had a lead like that, to be able to coast in and enjoy the moment, it was a special moment to have those members around, the staff, and everybody who had been dedicated to this week. To have finished it off like that, it's something I'll always remember."
ABOUT THE New Jersey State Amateur
Open to male amateurs who have qualified through
one of three qualifying sites or have met the
exemption criteria. Format is 72 holes of stroke play
with a cut to the low 40 scores after the second
View Complete Tournament Information