July 6, 2011

Morning Recap

Following the first round of play at the 64th MGA/MetLife Public Links Championship at Hominy Hill Golf Course, there’s a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard. Included in this trio is Dennis Lynch of Nassau Players, the two-time defending MGA Mid-Amateur champion. “I hit it close a few times and made some birdies,” said Lynch, the most experienced tournament player among the leading contenders. “I think someone might go low [this afternoon]. I’m just going to go out and try to make as many birdies as I can.”

Eric LefanteJoining Lynch are two players much to the 50-year-old Lynch’s junior: Adam Larkin, 19, of Bethpage and Marc Kunesch, 20, of Rolling Green. All three players shot one-under-par 71’s and are paired in the last groups for this afternoon’s final round.

“I birdied two of the first three holes, so I started off well,” said Kunesch. “My game is starting to come together. Also I really like the course; it’s pretty straightforward and you can play it well after just one practice round, which I had.”

Also in contention is 2008 Met Junior champion Anthony Aloi of MGA e-Club New Jersey, who shot a first-round 72 and birdied the first two holes of his afternoon round to jump ahead of the pack. Aloi can win his second MGA title with a solid afternoon round. Two-time NJSGA Public Links champion (2009 & ’10) Eric LeFante, also playing out of MGA e-Club New Jersey, is no stranger to Hominy Hill as he grew up playing the Monmouth County public track that is regularly considered one of the finest public courses in the Met Area.

First Tee of Metropolitan New York participant and future Penn State Nittany Lion Xander McDonald-Smith shot a first-round 73 and is in a good position to make a move further up the leaderboard this afternoon.

Hominy Hill proved to challenge the field in the morning round as the scoring average was 76.7 and only one eagle was recorded. A strong thunderstorm hit the course just before 2:00pm, causing a delay in play and possibly causing softer greens and more birdie opportunities as the day progresses. The final 18 holes should provide some exciting action as 14 players are within three shots of the lead, making it anyone’s championship to win.

Play Suspended at Public Links

Second-round play at the 64th MGA/MetLife Public Links Championship at Hominy Hill was suspended at 1:56pm due to lightning in the area. Players were given the option of completing play on the hole they had started. Hopefully the storm cell, which is fast-moving and to the southwest, will pass by quickly.

USGA Public Links at Hominy Hill

In addition to hosting four previous MGA/MetLife Public Links Championships, Hominy Hill has also been the site of two USGA national championships. The 1983 U.S. Public Links Championship was held here, and that year former University of Houston golf standout Billy Tuten took the title with a 3 & 1 victory over David Hobby. In 1995, Hominy Hill hosted the U.S. Women's Public Links Championship, won by Jo Jo Robertson. Robertson went on to win the title again in 1997, and was a member of the 1998 U.S. Curtis Cup team.

Hominy Hill's Championship Tradition

The 64th MGA/MetLife Public Links Championship is being held at a familiar place: Hominy Hill Golf Course in Colts Neck, N.J. The jewel of the Monmouth County Parks system, Hominy is no stranger to big-time competition. This is the fifth time the 6.918-yard, par-72 Robert Trent Jones layout is hosting the MGA Public Links, with the previous editions coming in 1986, 1991, 1996, and 1999.

Hominy has a history of producing fine champions. In 1986, Charlie Cowell won the MGA/MetLife Public Links here, and would go on to win the 1994 Met Open. Paul Dickinson took the title in 1996, and then repeated the following year at Bethpage Black (the same two-year course rotation that the MGA will follow this year and next year). In 1999, New Jersey native Lee Richardson won his third MGA/MetLife Public Links title at Hominy.

We'll look forward to seeing which Met Area marquee name hoists the trophy today after 36 holes of competition.