David Sampson of River Vale wins Men's Public Links Championship at Galloping Hill
David Sampson of River Vale drained a 15-foot par putt on his final hole that carried him to a one-stroke victory in the 15th NJSGA Men’s Public Links Championship on Wednesday at Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth.
Sampson, 32, a former varsity golfer at Seton Hall University, shot one-over-par 71-70-141 to edge co-runners-up Shawn Blandine of Black Bear (69-73-142) and Austin Devereux of Howell Park (74-68-142) by one shot. Tied for fourth place at 145 were John Olsen of NJSGA E-Club, Michael Winter of Mercer Oaks and Hunter Wescott of Valley Brook.
Blandine, 17, a resident of Ringwood, is a rising senior and a varsity golfer at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey. Devereux, 20, lives in Brielle and is a rising junior and varsity golfer at Rider University. The low three finishers received exemptions into the 2020 NJSGA Amateur at Arcola Country Club. Sampson is also exempt for the 2020 NJSGA Mid-Amateur at North Jersey Country Club and the 2020 Public Links at a course to be determined.
“Winning this championship means a lot to me. I don’t think I’ve won anything since my senior year in high school,” said Sampson, a native of Rhode Island who now resides in Oradell. “This shows I can still compete on a high level. A win is a win in any competition.”
Sampson, who won both the New England and Rhode Island high school championships 14 years ago, gave up golf for seven years before returning to the sport in 2018. He made the cut at this year’s NJSGA Amateur Championship, tying for 29th place. He received an exemption into the Public Links Championship as one of the five low public course finishers at the NJSGA Amateur.
“I was too busy at work. I got a job change which allowed me more time for golf,” said Sampson, a regional manager for Bumblebee Seafoods. “When you’ve played competitive golf as long as I have, it’s hard to just walk away. The hardest thing when I came back was creating a competitive golf swing. I needed my swing to become consistent.
“As I’ve gotten older, I play a lot smarter. That’s why that although I don’t play as often, I can still put some good scores together,” Sampson noted.
Sampson began the morning round with three birdies in four holes, which included a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-4, No. 3 hole. He recorded a double bogey on the par-4, No. 8 when he overshot the green into a penalty area. He finished that round at one-over-par 71 with five birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey.
In the afternoon, he played more conservatively, carding two pars along with two bogeys for his even-par 70.
“This morning, there were some loose swings and bad breaks,” he said. “In the afternoon, I was more steady. I just didn’t make as many putts. I had bursitis in my elbow and only played once in the past month and had to withdraw from a U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier.
“Today, I was in the fairway most of the time and had eight irons or lower into the greens on most of the holes,” Sampson said.