Echo Lake's Felitto leads way in first of four NJSGA Open Qualifiers
June 22, 2020 - John Felitto of Echo Lake finished his collegiate career for the University of Notre Dame in grand style, claiming his only career victory in early March before the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly ended his season.
Felitto, a native of Mountainside, shot 210 over 54 holes to win the Colleton River Invitational, hosted by Michigan State, at the Pete Dye Course at Colleton River Plantation in South Carolina. On Monday, the left-handed Felitto re-kindled his momentum, firing a three-under-par 69 to earn medalist honors at the first of four qualifying rounds for the 100th NJSGA Open Championship at Preakness Hills Country Club in Wayne. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the NJSGA's first competition of the season after a two-month delay to start the season.
Felitto’s 69 was one shot better than amateur Mark Costanza of Hamilton Farm. Tied for third place at even-par 72 were amateur Mike O’Connell of Arcola, and a duo of head professionals - Mike Docktor of the host club, Preakness Hills, and Greg Baker of Rockaway River. A total of 14 golfers who shot 74 or better advanced to the NJSGA Open Championship, slated for July 20-22 at Knickerbocker Country Club in Tenafly.
Other Open qualifiers are tomorrow (June 23) at Navesink Country Club in Red Bank, June 30 at Shackamaxon Country Club in Scotch Plains, and July 1 at Little Mill Country Club in Marlton.
“It’s funny the way things ended because we (Notre Dame) were in the Top 20 and we hadn’t been to the NCAAs in a while,” Felitto said. “We were having a great year. We won four of five events in the fall, and even though I wasn’t in the regular rotation back then, I battled back for a spot in the spring and was having a great year.”
Felitto, a graduate of Oratory Prep in Summit, fired a round that included six birdies, three on each side, and three bogeys.
“The greens were smooth and the course was straightforward. There were good sight lines and it gave me opportunities to make birdies with my wedges. Unfortunately, I three-putted three times... but I was happy that I played the par fives well,” said Felitto, who plans on testing himself on the mini-tour circuit in the fall, if possible.
His best finish in the NJSGA Open was a tie for fourth place in 2017 at Metedeconk National. He has played in six Opens, but skipped 2019 due to a conflict. He has also represented the NJSGA in Stoddard Cup championships in 2017 and 2018.
“I’ve never played Knickerbocker, but it’s a Donald Ross course like Echo Lake, and I’m pretty good at reading those green complexes,” he said.