Will Celiberti of Arcola fired a two-under-par 68 to earn medalist honors in the stroke-play portion of the William Y. Dear Junior Championship on Monday at the par-70, 6,295-yard Morris County Golf Club in Morristown.


Match Play Bracket & Starting Times

Celiberti was one shot better than 16-year-old Cole Ekert of Fairmount and two shots better than Randall Lazzaro of Trump National - Colts Neck and Connor Bekefi of Manasquan River.

On Monday, the low 15 scorers advanced to the match-play portion of the Junior Championship, which begins with the Round of 16 and quarterfinals on Tuesday and concludes with the semifinals and championship match on Wednesday. Defending champion and automatic qualifier Johnny Bush of Plainfield was designated the No. 1 seed and completes the 16-player bracket.

“On my birdies, I hit everything to within 15 feet, and fortunately, some of them dropped for me,” said Celiberti, 18, a resident of Ridgewood who won the NJSGA Boys Championship in 2016.

“I just shot the lowest round of my career, a 64, on Friday in the Junior PGA Championship at Keney Park Golf Course in Connecticut,” said Celiberti, a recent graduate of Bergen Catholic High School who will join the golf team at the University of Maryland. “I’m putting better and I’m more confident, more relaxed.”

Just two weeks ago, Celiberti won the Metropolitan Golf Association Junior Championship at Southward Ho in Bayshore, N.Y., a year after being runner-up in the event.

“I haven’t been able to play in the NJSGA Junior in two years, so it’s good to be back in it. It would great to win the Met Junior and NJSGA Junior in the same year,” Celiberti said.

The last to win the Met and NJSGA Juniors in the same year was Ken Macdonald of Upper Montclair in 1995. It has been done seven times by six different golfers. NJSGA Hall of Famer Billy Ziobro - who also played golf collegiately at Maryland - did it in 1966.

Ekert, a resident of Chatham, rallied from a double bogey on the par-4, 14th hole with birdies on the par-4, 16th hole and later on the par-4, 18th hole.

He shot his best round of 65 two weeks ago at the U.S. Challenge Cup at Agawam Hunt Club in Rhode Island. 

Ekert is known for helping organize a yearly golf outing fundraiser for Goryeb Children’s Hospital at Morristown Medical Center that has raised $48,000 over the past two years. Ekert was treated there for Chrone’s Disease and the fundraiser is his way of giving back.

Match play will begin Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m.; scoring throughout the remainder of the championship will be available at NJSGA.org.

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