Pine Valley’s Mike Muehr, a native of Bernardsville and former PGA Tour player, fired a three-under-par 68 to earn medalist honors by two strokes at the 99th NJSGA Open Qualifying Round on Tuesday at Old York Country Club at Chesterfield. 

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Muehr, a two-time quarterfinalist at the U.S. Mid-Amateur who makes his home in Potomac Falls, Va., will be playing in his first NJSGA Open since 1992, by his account.

Akhil Giri of Laurel Creek took second place at one-under-par 70, followed by Brandon Capone of Old York at 71 and Brett Inserra of Darlington and Michael McComb of Twisted Dune at 72.

A total of 11 golfers who shot 73 or better advanced to the NJSGA Open Championship, set for July 22-24 at Trump National Golf club in Bedminster.

“When I left the state in 1992, Trump National wasn’t there yet. Since it opened, I’ve played it a couple of times – and it’s a great golf course,” said Muehr, 47, who matriculated from Duke University where he was a member of the golf team. He played on the PGA Tour from 2001 to 2003. He had been diagnosed with melanoma in 2002 and later started Golf Pros Beating Cancer, a charitable foundation.

After regaining his amateur status, he won the Crump Cup at Pine Valley twice, the Middle Atlantic Amateur twice and the prestigious Coleman Cup once. 

“It will be great to be back in New Jersey for the State Open. I have some free time this summer and wanted to play in something competitive and saw that the Open was at Trump. It will be fun to spend three days in my old neighborhood,” Muehr stated.

Before leaving New Jersey, Muehr won the MGA’s Met Amateur and Ike Championship, both in 1992.

“I had a great upbringing in New Jersey,” said Muehr, a graduate of Bernards High School. “It will be great coming back.”

Playing at Old York for the first time, Muehr recorded five birdies and two bogeys, but admitted:  “It was a course I really should have come to see. I was very conservative off the tee, hitting irons, hybrids and a three wood off the tee. I hit driver a handful of times, on the par fives. I kept things in front of me. I probably hit 14 or 15 greens,” he said. Muehr’s five birdies on Tuesday included a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3, 11th hole.

“I’m not playing as much. I have kids ages 12, 10 and 9 and my weekends are gobbled up by kids’ sports.”

Giri, 18, is a rising freshman at Colgate University. He led Moorestown High School to the Group 3 championship this May.

He will be playing in the NJSGA Amateur and Open for the first time.

“I am thoroughly thrilled to be playing at Trump National,” said Giri, who in 2018 shot 66 at Old York in winning the Burlington County Scholastic League championship.

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