It was only fitting that on September 11, Morten Gotterup of Rumson paused to pay homage to his former playing partner, Todd Pelino, who lost his life that day 11 years ago in the World Trade Center.


On his final putt, with the tournament on the line, Gotterup dedicated the 10-footer to his friend and watched as it rolled around the cup and fall in to give him his first tournament victory, the 54th NJSGA Pre-Senior Championship, on Tuesday at the 6,500-yard Morris County Golf Club in Morristown, N.J.

“When I lined up the putt, I said ‘Todd, this one’s for you.’ As I watched that putt roll around, I couldn’t help but think that Todd stuck out his foot and guided it home,” said Gotterup, 45, a mall media specialist who carded a nine-over-par 79 to give him a two-day total of 149, one shot better than Michael Guli of Essex County, who yesterday fired the 36-hole tournament’s low round of 69 for a 150 total. He tied for the runner-up spot with John Olsen of Rockleigh (71-150).

The Pre-Senior championship is for players ages 45 to 54.

“When I was in the locker room today, I heard them reading the names of those lost on 9-11 and said to myself I’m just thankful to be here. There are a lot of things going on in the world. To me, this victory is even more special, given the day.”

Gotterup, who had hip replacement surgery just a year ago, started the day tied for first place with Garfield Layne of Neshanic Valley (70-92-162). Gotterup maintained the lead with a three-over total of 39 for the front side, but things started falling apart when he bogeyed the 11th, 12th and 13th holes, then doubled the par-4 14th when he was forced to take an unplayable lie.

He had an up-and-down par on the 15th hole, parred the par-4 16th, then bogeyed the par-3 17th when he three-putted from 40 feet. That left him one shot clear of the field heading into the 412-yard, par-4 18th hole.

He drove to the left side of the fairway, but his approach from 135 yards was 10-feet short of the green, leaving him a severe downhill shot to the flagstick, which stood 25 feet away. He ended up 10 feet beyond the hole, then snaked in the downhill winning putt, which caught the inside right lip of the cup.

“I’ve done well in tennis, until I took up golf at age 25, so this is the most important victory of anything I’ve ever competed in,” said Gotterup, who earned a tennis scholarship to St. Mary’s College in California. “To do it on one of the quadrangular courses (Morris County, Rumson, Somerset Hills and Tuxedo) is more meaningful to me."

Gotterup’s son, Christopher, 13, competed in the Callaway Junior Worlds in San Diego as well as the NJSGA Boys championship at Rumson this summer. Gotterup himself has previously made the cut for the State Amateur and competed in two state Mid-Amateurs.

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