Defending Champion Issler, host of contenders descend on Trump National for 99th Open Championship
Marc Issler of Toms River Golf Center had a breakthrough of sorts when the 33-year-old PGA professional won the biggest tournament of his life, the 2018 NJSGA Open Championship, last season at the Montclair Golf Club in West Orange. This year, he expects a completely different experience as he defends his crown in the 99th NJSGA Open Championship on the New Course at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.
Issler, who once again will have the benefit of his father, Bob, the 1981 NJSGA Open Champion, as his caddie, looks forward to the challenge at Trump National: “Having played it a few times, I’m looking forward to playing the New Course. It’s definitely a “thinking man’s” golf course – and it’s big. A lot more strategy is involved on this course, as opposed to the Old. Here, you’ve got to plot your way around,” Issler said.
“There are several holes there where you can really get in trouble if you’re not careful off the tee. You need the right lines on several holes. If you are too aggressive on the par fives, you can really get in trouble, especially on the back nine.”
The Open will take place this Monday-Wednesday, July 22-24 on the New Course, designed and built by Tommy Fazio, which opened in 2008. It is one of 19 courses throughout the world operated by Trump Golf, and in its short history, the club has already hosted multiple national championships, including 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur Championships (Boys and Girls). In 2022, it will host its first men’s major: the PGA Championship.
As always, the field will be strong and highly competitive. Defending champion Issler is one of nine past champions in the starting field of 132 players. Other former champions include Tyler Hall of Upper Montclair (2015, 2016), Frank Esposito of Forsgate (2013, 1999), Brian Gaffney of Essex Fells (2010), Brett Jones of Due Process Stable (2009), Mark McCormick of Suburban (2008), Ed Whitman of Knickerbocker (2004, 1996, 1995, 1991), John DiMarco of Laurel Creek (2000), and Steve Sieg of Navesink (1989).
Also in the field are the medalists from the four sectional qualifiers conducted by the NJSGA: amateur Mike Muehr of Pine Valley (medalist at Old York at Chesterfield), pro Steve Shellock of Suneagles (Glenwood), amateur Doug Walters of NJSGA E-Club (Raritan Valley), and amateur Danny Harcourt of Shackamaxon (Essex Fells).
On the professional side, Danny Lewis of Hollywood could have an impact. Lewis, who finished tied for seventh last year at Montclair, won the NJPGA’s rain-shortened Charity Clambake in mid-June at The Ridge at Back Brook. Sam Kang of Essex Golf Center won the NJPGA’s Head Professionals’ Championship in early May, and is always considered a contender.
A duo of top amateurs who have already won 2019 majors are strong candidates to bring home the C.W. Badenhausen Championship trophy. Dawson Jones of Eagle Oaks, fresh off victories at Neshanic Valley in the NJSGA Amateur Championship and at Canoe Brook in the MGA’s Ike Championship, might currently be playing better than anyone in the field. Jones, the recent graduate of the University of Rhode Island, also qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship in early July. Another contender from the amateur ranks is Jeremy Wall of Manasquan River, who won his second consecutive Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur Championship in mid-June.
With a host of talented professionals and amateurs competing for the C.W. Badenhausen Championship Trophy on a world-class golf course, the 99th Open Championship once again promises to crown a most deserving champion.