Brian Komline’s eagle on the par-5 11th hole on Friday was the event’s highlight as New Jersey wrapped its three-day appearance at the 10th USGA Men’s State Team Championship at the Galloway National Golf Club in Galloway.
Komline’s 9-iron from 153 yards landed two feet from the pin for his eagle that, at the time, put him at 3-over-par for the day. But It was downhill after that as Komline, of Black Oak, shot 6-over-par for his final five holes for a 9-over-par 80.
Niall Handley of Essex Fells led New Jersey with a 7-over-par 78, followed by Mike Stamberger of Spring Lake at 8-over-par 79.
After the morning round, New Jersey stood in 34th place, after improving from 38th place to 24th place on Thursday. The best two of the three scores counted as the team score each of the three days. New York, Iowa and Pennsylvania came into Friday with the top three team scores.
“The guys tried hard all the way,” said honorary captain Bob Housen of Manasquan River, a six-time winner of the state amateur and a member of the first New Jersey team in 1995. “The golf course was very hard, but nobody was on their game, and I’ve seen them play.
“The attitude was very good considering everything that went on. The pin placements were very tough. I’m sure they’re all disappointed.”
New Jersey’s best finish was tie for fourth in 2001, when Minnesota won, behind Mike Deo of Black Oak, Mike Hyland of Little Mill and Allan Small of Fairmount.
In the last State Team Championship in 2010, New Jersey was 23rd behind Tom Gramigna of Tavistock, David Pierce of Neshanic Valley and Komline. Kansas won the event in 2010.
Handley was selected for the team for the first time in his career, while Komline and Stamberger were each making their third appearance.
“It was a tremendous experience, from the players’ dinner to the final tee. The way it was set up, with thr signage on the tee boxes, it felt like a U.S. Open,” said Handley, who will join Komline for the French American Challenge, Oct. 14-15 at the Sebonack golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
“The course conditions were unbelievable. There is a big difference from events on the state level to the USGA level. This golf course will expose your weaknesses if you’re not playing well. Even par was like 4-under out here. I enjoyed the camaraderie of our team. From the team shirts, to eating together and rooming together, it was great absorbing all of it
“Even though we didn’t play so well, we grinded over every shot. We don’t have to hang our heads,” Handley added.
Stamberger, the 2011 state Player of the Year and twice a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Mid-Amateur, said the highlight for him was the competition.
“The fun for me was competing on a great golf course like this. The course was more penal than I as used to. It was a good experience. It’s an honor to represent the state,” he said.
Komline, who had qualified for match play at the U.S. Mid-Amateur two weeks ago, said his game needs a little tweaking.
“I’ve got to get out on the range and work some things out. My short game is awful right now,” said Komline, a two-time state Player of the Year. “It’s a shame the way it ended today. With the eagle, I had built some good momentum and then I lost it.”