Frank Esposito Wins Njsga/njpga Senior Open At Trump-colts Neck
Frank Esposito Jr. of Brooklake, playing in his first NJSGA/NJPGA Senior Open, put together a pair of sub-par rounds and earned a two-stroke victory over Mark Yannotta of Essex Golf Driving Range in the 26th Senior Open that concluded on Wednesday at the 6,777-yard Trump National Golf Club in Colts Neck.
Esposito, the 2013 State Open champion, fired rounds of 70-71-141, a combined three-under-par, to edge Yannotta (72-71-143) and third-place finisher Bill Britton (71-74-145) of Trump National-Colts Neck. Britton had won the past three championships and has won four overall.
Mark McCormick of Suburban shot the championship’s low round of four-under par 68 to secure fourth place (77-68-147) while Dave Laudien of Howell Park (73-75-148) was fifth.
Dan Levinson of Bayonne (77-72-149) repeated as low amateur and was sixth overall. Levinson’s 72 on Wednesday was the low round by an amateur in the event. Jay Blumenfeld of Mountain Ridge was second low amateur (77-75-152) and tied for 10th overall.
“I stayed solid. I hit a lot of greens and I putted okay,” said Esposito, who last weekend finished tied for 39th in the Senior PGA Championship . Wednesday’s title was the third already this spring for Esposito who has also won the New Jersey PGA Match Play and Head Pro championships.
“It’s exciting to hold both the State Open and Senior Open trophies within a year of each other. This was a very good field and it means a lot to win this. Billy Britton is a great player, but honestly, it’s great to win this over anybody. The course is in great shape,” said Esposito, 51, a Rutgers graduate who has won two State Opens and is in the NJPGA Hall of Fame.
Esposito birdied the par-4 first hole and then was on his way. He added birdies on the par-4 10th and par-5 13th holes to open up a four-stroke cushion before stumbling a bit with bogeys on the par-4 14th and 17thholes.
“I went to (Champions Tour) qualifying school and finished in the Top 30, so that allows me to avoid Friday qualifying and just try to get in on Monday qualifiers,” said Esposito, who will play eight Monday qualifiers beginning in July
“I’ve been working hard on my game and I feel I can compete out there. The guys in the Senior PGA can all play so you’ve really got to have your game in shape to do anything out there,” he said. “I’ve gotten comfortable with my game and my swing. I try to take that on to the golf course and that’s pretty much it.”
Britton, 57, who played with Esposito and Yannotta, said Esposito is on top of his game right know.
“He makes good shots. That’s what good golfers do. Nothing spectacular, but he didn’t miss many greens and he hits it far. I think we’re lucky to have a tournament as competitive as this at our age and be able to have it on good courses. Many of the top players in this section, like Frank, Mike Burke, Ed Whitman and Gary Ostrega were in this event,” Britton said.
Levinson, 56, last summer besides low amateur in the Senior Open was also low amateur at the Met Senior Open – and tied for10th overall – with rounds of 67-75-142 at Sunningdale. He also found time to record a hole-in-one on August 14 at Bayonne, on the par-3, 146-yard fifth hole.
The highlight, however, was winning the gold medal for the United States team at the Maccabiah Games, the third largest sporting event in the world with more than 8,000 athletes competing.
“I had a lot of one putts on the front nine,” said Levinson, who shot three-under-par 33 on his front side with four birdies against one bogey. “My caddie gave me perfect reads. It’s cool to defend as low amateur in a great tournament like this. Shooting three under on the front enabled me to take the lead, coming from three shots back on Tuesday.”
Levinson is a New York City-based filmmaker known for TV ads such as Geico, Pepsi and other Fortune 500 companies. He also recently wrapped up a show for Animal Planet called “Ice Cold Gold,” about mining for gold in Greenland.
His company, Moxie Pictures, also produced the acclaimed documentary “The Unknown Known,” in which former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld discussed his career in Washington D.C. That film was directed by Errol Morris, who interviewed Robert McNamara in the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Fog of War.”