Returning to Navesink Country Club for a qualifying round for the 100th New Jersey State Golf Association Open Championship on Tuesday brought back a flood of memories for native son John Browndorf.

It was at Navesink where a talented Browndorf learned to play, well enough to win the Met Boys Championship in 1999 at age 16. A year later, he was Navesink club champion.

The Rumson native learned under the guiding hand of his father, Joel, himself a skilled golfer. On Tuesday, the amateur Browndorf dedicated his round to his ailing father and came through with one of his best rounds, a five-under-par 67 which featured five birdies and no bogeys – good enough on a sweltering day to gain medalist honors.

Browndorf led a total of 17 golfers at two-over-par 74 or better that gained a spot in the Open Championship, which takes place July 22-24 at Knickerbocker Country Club in Tenafly. The final two Open qualifiers are set for next week Tuesday, July 30 at Shackamaxon Country Club in Scotch Plains, and on Wednesday, July 1 at Little Mill Country Club in Marlton. 

Tied for second at two under par 70 were 16-year-old amateur Nathan Drogin of Mountain Ridge, amateur Ryan McCarty of Little Mill and Chris Dymek - the head professional at Manasquan River.

Final Scoring

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“My Dad’s not doing too well right now, and he was on my mind all day. This was for him,” said Browndorf, who once shot 64 at Navesink at age 16. “I want to thank my neighbor and caddie (2002 NJSGA amateur champion Corey Brigham) for helping me out today. I was also fortunate that I had a morning tee time when the wind was not as severe as it usually is in the afternoon.”

Following a sterling high school career at Rumson-Fair Haven High School, Browndorf joined the golf team at Rutgers University. He reached the semifinals of the NJSGA Mid-Amateur at Arcola in 2015, the year he qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

“I figured something out with my putting over the weekend, about a pressure point for my left thumb,” said Browndorf, who also won a club championship at Deal. “That really helped today.”

This will be his first appearance in the NJSGA Open in four years, last playing in 2016 at Galloping Hill.

“I love Knickerbocker. I’m looking forward to playing there. It’s a beautiful course,” Browndorf noted.

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