September 23, 2020 - Alpine’s Adam Kugler couldn’t help but notice how much Suburban Golf Club in Union reminded him of his home course in Bergen County.

“Like Alpine, it’s a Tillinghast course with a lot of trees and firm and fast greens. I felt comfortable out there,” said Kugler, 62, who fired a one-under-par 70, the only round under par of the tournament, for a 144 total as he easily captured the 62nd NJSGA Senior Amateur Championship presented by the NJM Insurance Group at the par-71, 6,305-yard Suburban G.C. on Wednesday.

Chris Housen of Manasquan River (74-76-150) and first-round leader Todd Wood of Fairmount (72-78-150) tied for second.  Joe Roeder of Little Mill (76-75-151) took fourth place while Ed Walsh of Trump National-Bedminster (77-75-152) was fifth.

Scoring

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“I shot 74 on Tuesday, but I hit it better than my score indicated. I finished bogey, bogey, par, and on this golf course, you can make a double bogey in a second,” said Kugler, a resident of Closter.

Said Wood of Kugler’s round: “That 70 is a heck of a score. I thought the golf course played harder today, especially with the pin placements.”

But Kugler had the answer.

“I was much more comfortable. I hadn’t played here in a long time and I noticed that it’s much harder now. Today, I just went out and played my game. I had to break out from a pack of guys. I was hoping I’d get a low score. It was a matter of bringing my ‘A’ game.”

Kugler had never won an individual NJSGA championship, although he and Neil Schuman won the Senior Four-Ball Championship in 2013. Kugler and his wife, Jane, won the NJSGA Mixed Pinehurst in 1998.

Kugler, who has won 25 club championships at Alpine dating back to 1976, won the Metropolitan Golf Association Senior Open in 2014 at Alpine and the Met Senior Amateur in 2018 at New York’s Old Oaks. He has played in three U.S. Senior Amateurs, twice making the cut, and four British Senior Amateurs, finishing inside the top 30 on two occasions.

The key for Kugler on Wednesday was putting.

“I typically excel on courses that are lag-putting courses and that was the case today. It is 75 percent speed and 25 percent accuracy, and sometimes you get lucky and they go in the hole,” he said.

That’s exactly what occurred on the par-4, 15th hole when his uphill, left-to-right putt from 35 feet found the bottom of the cup for his fourth birdie of the day. That came immediately after his third bogey, on the par-4, 15th hole, when his drive found the woods on the left side of the fairway.

Other birdies came on the par-4 sixth hole, when his wedge from 80 yards ended a foot from the hole, on the par-4 10th hole, when he drained an eight-foot birdie putt, and on the par-3 11th when he made a four-footer.

“It was funny. I didn’t look at the leaderboard until after the 17th hole, just in case I had to do something special on 18,” he stated. “Since I’ve reached the senior ranks I’m definitely playing more and I’m playing better.”

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