In his first year of eligibility after turning 30, Michael Deo of Montclair Golf Club cruised to victory in the 24th NJSGA Mid-Amateur Championship on Wednesday, May 9. Facing a strong field, Deo’s margin of victory in each of his five rounds of match play en route to the Championship was no less than 4&2. In Wednesday’s final match, Deo defeated Brian Komline of High Bridge Hills 4&2 for the Championship.
The first “major” of the 2007 NJSGA season was played at Eagle Oaks Golf Club in Farmingdale, NJ. Designed by Johnny Miller, Eagle Oaks played to slightly over 6,700 yards during the three-day championship.
The front side of the final match saw play seesaw. Deo drew first blood when Komline hit his approach at the par-4 fourth hole into a pond guarding the green. But on the next hole, Deo gave his 1-up lead right back when he found the water on the par-3 fifth hole. The pair then traded birdies but Deo found himself 1-up after nine holes when Komline again found the water on the par-3 eighth hole.
After trading pars on the opening holes of the back nine, the match took a sudden turn in Deo’s favor at the 13th and 14th holes. At 13,Deo hit a brilliant approach shot into the green from an awkward lie in thick rough, and rolled in his ten foot birdie putt. On the 14th, Komline nearly hit his drive out of bounds and had to hack out of trees and thick rough en route to a concession. Holes were running out for Komline as Deo went 3-up in the match. On the 15th hole, Komline nearly made a desperately needed birdie but instead stood three down with three holes to play on the 16th tee. Deo’s par on the long par-3 16th was the clincher, giving him the 4&2 victory.
After four runner-up finishes in the NJSGA Amateur Championship, Deo’s title in the Mid-Amateur Championship is, surprisingly, only his second NJSGA title. In 1994, Deo won the William Y. Dear Junior Championship at Rumson.
Deo’s route to victory consisted of the following opponents: Glenn Stephenson (4&3), Andrew Stewart (4&3), Jay Blumenfeld (5&4), Harris Podvey (5&4) and Brian Komline (4&2). Deo bested several strong players with long histories of success in NJSGA events: Jay Blumenfeld, the NJSGA Player of the Year in 2006; Harris Podvey, the NJSGA Mid-Amateur Champion in 2001; and Brian Komline, the NJSGA Open Champion in 2005.
The course at Eagle Oaks received strong reviews and was in superb condition, especially for this time of year. Deo had not played Eagle Oaks for many years until Monday’s first round, and said the changes made to the course in recent years were dramatic. “The greens are in excellent shape in spite of all the bad weather, much better conditioned than other courses I’ve seen this year,” Deo said.