Defending champion Bill Britton of Trump National-Colts Neck, a Rumson resident, chipped in for an eagle-3 on the par-5 fourth hole and rode it to a second straight victory in the NJSGA/NJPGA Senior Open Championship on Wednesday at the Montammy Golf Club in Alpine.
Britton, 56, became the third player to win back-to-back championships, emulating Bob Wenz of Crescent Driving Range who did it in 1992-93, and the late Peter Famiano of Crestmont, who followed in 1994-95. It was the third overall Senior Open championship for Britton, who was also victorious in 2006.
It was Britton’s second Senior Open crown in seven months. In 2011, the event was moved from May to October due to heavy rains last spring.Britton, who added a birdie on the par-4 16thhole, was the only player in the 36-hole tournament to break 70, shooting a 69 Wednesday to go with a 2-over-par 74 in rainy conditions on Tuesday for a 74-69-143 at Montammy, a 6,920-yard, par-72 venue.
Tied for second were host pro and former champion Mike Burke of Montammy (74-72-146) and Mike Lanzetta of the Mansfield Golf Center (74-72-146). Tied for fourth were low amateur Adam Kugler of Alpine (79-71-150) and former champion Gary Ostrega of Hyatt Hills (75-75-150).
“On the fourth hole, I hit a three iron into the left rough, but I had a good lie seven yards from the pin. I was lucky it went in for eagle, because it could’ve gone 15 feet by the hole,” said Britton, last year’s NJPGA Senior Player of the Year and runner-up to Burke in the Met Senior Open last October.
“I struggled hitting the ball on Tuesday, but figured my aim was off. I tend to aim left with my driver, so I turned right today and it made all the difference,” added Britton, a former PGA Tour professional.
Britton will test himself next week at the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton, Mich. He also hopes to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open later this summer.
“I’m very happy with the way I played,” said Lanzetta, 52, who had knee surgery last fall. “It’s great to play with Bill. I didn’t see a mishit. Everything is right in the middle of the club. He has a great temperament. He shows no sign of pressure.”
Burke was in the mix until he carded a double-bogey at the par-3 13thhole. His drive landed behind a tree on the right side and his chip ran left, nearly off the tiered green.
“I had a bad stretch, I should have birdied the 11thand 12thholes and missed easy putts,” said Burke, a five-time NJPGA Player of the Year. “If I made those putts, that shot behind the tree would’ve never happened. But Bill (Britton) made the eagle and got the right vibe early. When that happened, the rest of us were catching up to him all day.”
The star-studded field of 80 golfers included every champion since 2003 in Don Brigham of Battleground, Ostrega, Russell Helwig of Essex Fells, Britton, Bill King of Spring Lake, Chris Dachisen of North Jersey, Burke, amateur Jon Tingley of Stanton Ridge and Britton again.