MORRISTOWN, N.J. - Defending champion Mark Costanza fired a 6-under par 64 to grab a three-stroke lead after the opening round of the 101st New Jersey State Golf Association Open Championship at Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown. Costanza, an amateur and the 2020 NJSGA Player of the Year, won last year’s championship in a three-hole playoff at Knickerbocker Country Club and is looking to become the first back-to-back winner since Tyler Hall in 2015 and 2016.

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“It’s really exciting. It’s definitely not a title you want to relinquish,” Costanza said. “A lot of great players, a great course; I’m just looking forward to the opportunity and glad I got off to a good start.”

Costanza’s lone bogey came at the fifth hole, and he made the turn at 1-under par. He then compiled five birdies coming in to secure a back nine 29 and a 6-under 64.

“I was playing pretty well on the front, plodding my way along, hitting really good shots,” Costanza recapped. “I hit the ball great all day. On the back nine, I started to get some momentum with the putter and made some putts.”

Adding another layer to his already outstanding performance, Costanza was forced to play his round with a reserve set of clubs. “It was kind of a weird situation,” Costanza explained. “I was in Nantucket with my fiance's family and we flew back, but the flight got diverted to JFK. Long story short, I left the airport at JFK, but the clubs stayed there. They said it would come over eventually, and I was trying to get them yesterday, but they never came over. Thanks to Jason Gore for lending me a driver and a 3-wood. They worked out pretty well today.”

And should Costanza’s primary set of clubs arrive in New Jersey tonight? “I'm sticking with the ones I used today,” he laughed. “We're not going to change it up. I felt good, hit it well, so I'm going to stick with those.”

 

 

Michael Brown, the champion of the 120th NJSGA Amateur Championship presented by Provident Bank just two weeks ago, continued his run of strong play with a 3-under par 67 to share second place through 18 holes. Brown is looking to become the first New Jersey golfer to win the Amateur and the Open in the same year since Billy Ziobro did it in 1970.

Bill Hook, the Head Golf Professional at Knickerbocker, also shot 3-under, as did 2013 NJSGA Player of the Year Pat Wilson. Will O’Neill, Grant Sturgeon, Nick Bova, and Danny Lewis all sit tied for fifth place at 2-under par.

The championship continues with 18 holes of stroke play Tuesday at Spring Brook beginning at 7 a.m. The top-40 player and ties after the first two rounds will advance to Wednesday’s final round of stroke play.

Coverage of the 101st NJSGA Open Championship will be available at NJSGA.org, where live scoring, news, and recaps will be featured throughout the week. Fans and players can also follow the organization on its social media outlets at Facebook.com/njsga1900, @NJSGA1900 on Twitter and @njsga1900 on Instagram.

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