Dawson Jones sets scoring record in winning his second Amateur championship
Dawson Jones of Eagle Oaks put the finishing touches Friday morning on one of the greatest weeks of his young golf career with a birdie on his final hole that etched his name in the record books of the New Jersey State Golf Association.
That birdie on the 72nd hole of the 118th NJSGA Amateur Championship, presented by Provident Bank, provided a record final tally of 15-under-par 273, that broke Jones' previous record of 14-under 274, set two years ago in his Amateur Championship victory at Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield.
When he won at Tavistock, he came from seven shots down entering the final round to win by one. This year the Howell resident delivered a wire-to-wire triumph in the Amateur, played at par-72, 6,942-yard Neshanic Valley Golf Course in Neshanic Station. It was only the second time a public course hosted the event with Hominy Hill in Monmouth County serving as host in 1990.
The 21-year-old Jones and 10 other golfers returned to Neshanic Valley on Friday morning to complete their final rounds that were interrupted by lightning and rain on Thursday afternoon. Jones played his final four holes Friday in one under par and his final 18 in three-under-par 69. For the week, he shot 64-69-71-69-213.
Tied for second place were Jones’ playing partner Jack Wall of Manasquan River (70-279), runner-up for the second year in a row, and Vince Kwon of NJSGE E-Club (67-279). They were followed by Chris Gotterup of Rumson (68-280), Troy Vannucci of Little Mill (69-282), Brandon Dalinka of Ridge at Back Brook (71-283) and Jason Bataille of Neshanic Valley (72-284).
Besides the 72-hole low score of 273, Jones also tied the NJSGA Amateur record of lowest round when he fired a course-record eight-under-par 64 in Tuesday opening round of the event. That set up the victory in which he never trailed, although his lead dwindled to a single shot early in the fourth round. He is the first player to win two Amateurs since Mike Stamberger of Spring Lake (2013, 2014).
The week for Jones included 36 holes on Monday when he qualified for U.S. Amateur at Manasquan River. Two weeks ago he won the MGA’s Ike Stroke-Play Championship at Canoe Brook.
“My game is pretty much peaking for sure. I don’t know what I can do to improve on it right now,” said Jones, a May graduate from the University of Rhode Island who will compete in the NJSGA Open Championship at Trump National G.C. in Bedminster in two weeks.
“Yes, I was aware of the record. I used it as inspiration. You always want to set a record. How often are you able to shoot a score like that,” said Jones, who had only four bogeys over his 72 holes.
Wall came within one shot of the lead early in the fourth and final round. Wall birdied the par-4 No. 2, hole and the par-3, No. 3 hole and when Jones bogeyed there, the lead was reduced to two strokes. Wall added another birdie on the par-5 No. 5 when his chip from the front of the green resulted in a kick-in birdie that brought him to 10-under par for the tournament, one shot behind Jones who stood at 11-under par.
After both players parred the par-4, No. 6, things changed dramatically on the par-4, 382-yard No. 7. Wall, standing 116 yards from the hole, hit a gap wedge that overshot the green and found the water behind it. He had to settle for a double bogey which opened Jones’ lead to three shots. Wall’s bogey on No. 8 and a birdie by Jones on No. 9 made it a five-shot advantage for Jones.
“Dawson is just so steady. It seemed like he was always shooting for birdies. He got off to such a great start, it was hard to catch him with birdies. I made some bad mistakes that cost me. He’s a truly deserving champion,” said Wall, 18, the 2017 NJSGA Junior champion who is an incoming freshman at the University of South Carolina.
“This championship is great for my resume," said Jones who on Friday birdied his 16th hole from 12 feet, but bogeyed the 17th when he three-putted. "It’s great for my confidence. All week, I was able to stay calm and not make poor decisions,” Jones added.