DENVILLE, N.J. On a spectacular day in northern New Jersey, Bill McGuinness of Tavistock Country Club captured the 106th NJSGA Amateur Championship at Rockaway River Country Club. McGuinness´ steady play from tee to green enabled him to outlast the field in this 36-hole finale. His morning round of 76 put him four shots back of leader Ron Vannelli who opened play today with a 1-under round of 71, one of only three sub-par rounds recorded the entire week.
But with a swing adjustment he made on the range in between rounds today, McGuinness started the afternoon round on fire with three birdies in his first eight holes, catching Vannelli on the 6th hole. He went on to win by two strokes over Vannelli, Tom Gramigna, a fellow Tavistock member, and Roger Hoit of Baltusrol.
Rockaway River more than held its own as a demanding test of golf in spite of its sub-7,000 yard length, proving that the classic designs of the early 20th century still can present formidable challenges. The golf course was more playable today after extreme winds during the first two rounds disappeared. For the first time this week, the scoring average fell below 80 to 78.4, and all three sub-par rounds were shot today. Rockaway played as the ultimate shot maker´s course, with narrow fairways lined by demonic rough, small greens and testing hole locations. Players praised the course, generally agreeing it was a tough but fair layout.
The day began looking like it might belong to Tom Gramigna or John Lovett, who shared the lead after 36 holes. But Lovett faded quickly and Gramigna struggled in the morning round, only to bounce back with a closing 75 to secure his tie for second place. Much of the fourth round seemed like match play between McGuinness and Vannelli. The players were tied for the lead through thirteen holes in the afternoon round, and the 14th hole proved to be the turning point, a surprising role for this benign 182-yard par-3. Vannelli´s pushed tee shot resulted in a bogey while McGuinness´ crisp 7-iron to three feet resulted in birdie and a two stroke swing. McGuinness went on to win by two strokes.
Please click on the link below for full field results and course statistical information.