Doug Walters of NJSGA E-Club fired a 3-under-par 69 to claim medalist honors at the qualifying round for the 98thNJSGA Open Championship on Monday, June 25, at the 6,695-yard Mendham Golf and Tennis Club in Mendham.
Walters, a former Rutgers University golfer, was one stroke better than amateur Danny Harcourt of Mercer Oaks and professional Mark Yannotta of Anchor Golf Center. John McCarthy, head professional at Morris County Golf Club, shot a 1-under-par 71 and pros Kevin Weyeneth of Hollywood and Jeff Maines of Montclair both shot even par at 72.
The low 20 players who shot 75 or better qualified for the NJSGA Open which will be played July 24-26 at Montclair Golf Club in West Orange.
“The opportunity to shoot 65 was there today. I missed four short putts coming down the stretch,” said Walters, 25, a North Brunswick resident who played at Rutgers from 2010 to 2014. “This was the first time I played the course. I was here last Wednesday and walked the course, taking notes. Today, I executed my game plan off my notes.
“I didn’t hit driver that much, but my 3 iron off the tee was great. I’ve just got to be a little sharper psychologically.”
The highlight of his round was an eagle at the 525-yard, par-5 No. 8. There, he connected for a wind-aided drive of 340 yards, then placed an 8 iron to within 12 feet of the cup.
Walters didn’t take up golf until his sophomore year at North Warren Regional High School in Blairstown. While there, he was part of two state sectional championship teams.
“I went from shooting 100 in 2008 to a 68 in 2010 when I shot 70-68 to win a NJPGA Junior event at The Architects Golf Club. I was a walk-on at Rutgers when Maura Ballard was the head coach. When she became the women’s coach only, I was fortunate to have Jason Bataille, Chris Mazzuchetti and (current coach) Rob Shutte as my coaches. All of them showed me a lot,” Walters said.
In his senior year, he won a fall tournament at Lehigh University.
“I was very fortunate to play at Rutgers. In 2012, Rutgers hosted a college tournament in Ireland.”
Walters has played in multiple NJSGA events. He has qualified for the Amateur in seven of eight attempts, including this year at Forsgate Country Club. He tied for 25thplace in the 2017 Amateur.
He has played in two NJSGA Open Championships, in 2012 and 2013. He was medalist at the 2012 Met Open qualifier at Roxiticus Golf Club in Mendham.
“I don’t play a lot, but I’m still a scratch golfer,” he said.
Harcourt has been on a hot streak of late. He earned medalist honors at the NJSGA Amateur qualifying at Forsgate on June 7 with a 5-under-par 66. His 70 at Mendham included four birdies and two bogeys. He birdied the par-4 No. 18 when his wedge from 108 yards ended six feet from the hole.
Harcourt, 21, is a rising senior at Gettysburg College who was named NCAA Division 3 All-American off a junior year that included three tournament victories, nine top 10s and a 74.0 average.
He was a NJSGA Open medalist at Suburban Golf Club in 2016, but failed to qualify for the Open last year.
“I’ve been fine tuning everything. It’s nice to see my hard work paying off. I’ve been working mostly with my putter and my wedges,” said Harcourt, a resident of Fanwood.
Yannotta, 54, carded three birdies and a bogey. He played in the 2017 State Open, but did not make the cut. He was third in the 2015 NJSGA/NJPGA Senior Open behind Jim McGovern of White Beeches and Chris Dachisen of North Jersey.
McCarthy recorded six birdies, a double bogey and three bogeys.
“The course is in great condition and the greens were receptive. I had to dial in the speed of the greens on the first few holes,” said McCarthy, who finished T-6 at the NJSGA Open in 2015 at Rockaway River Country Club in Denville.