NJ State Team Of Komline, Stamberger & Handley Shooting For Win At USGA Event
With two former NJSGA Players of the Year who have twice appeared in the event and a talented third player, the New Jersey State Team of Brian Komline of Black Oak, Mike Stamberger of Spring Lake and Niall Handley of Essex Fells will settle for nothing less than the top of the 2012 USGA Men’s State Team Championship, Sept. 19-21, when the event comes to New Jersey for the first time at the Galloway National Golf Club.
“We have three of the best players in the state. Going into the tournament, I feel we have a chance to win it. I’m very confident in the three guys we have. We definitely have the ability to win the tournament,” said Brian Komline, the 2007 and ’08 NJSGA Player of the Year and the only golfer in history to win all five state majors – the Open, Amateur, Mid-Amateur, Publinx and Four-Ball (with Handley).
“We are three guys who are playing good golf, playing competitively in top events for a while. Mike (Stamberger) has done great in the USGA events over the years and I have played in USGA events. We have the right stuff. We know we can do it,” Komline added.
The USGA Men’s and Women’s State Team Championships grew out of celebration of the USGA Centennial in 1995, coincidentally the same year that Galloway National – hosting its first national tournament – was opened.The championships are open to players from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The New Jersey team is selected using the NJSGA Player of the Year points list. Similar to the Ryder Cup, points are doubled in the year of the event and added to the previous year.
The Men’s and Women’s Championships were held the same year through 2009, but since 2010, the men’s competition has been held in even-numbered years.Golfers will play 18 holes each of the three days, with the two lowest of the three individual scores counting as the team’s score that day. The team with the lowest aggregate through 54 holes is the champion.
The NJSGA Team also has an advantage of local knowledge. Back in May, Komline won the NJSGA Mid-Amateur at Galloway National defeating Stamberger, the 2011 State Player of the Year, in the final. Komline, 38, had defeated Handley, 40 of West Caldwell, his teammate from Fairleigh Dickinson University, in the semifinal.
All three were on hand at Galloway National for Media Day on Tuesday, August 28, as was state legend and honorary captain Bob Housen of Manasquan River, who has won six State Amateurs.
“I’m trying to get a feel for the course and will follow the guys all three days of the tournament to offer my expertise if they should ask for an opinion on certain things. I’m excited about the event,” said Housen, of Brielle, who played on New Jersey’s team in the first State Team Championship in 1995 at Lake Nona, Fla., where the team finished tied for 12thbehind champion Virginia.
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, New Jersey was 23rdbehind Tom Gramigna of Tavistock, David Pierce of Neshanic Valley and Komline. Kansas won the event in 2010.
The week before this year’s event, Komline, of Bridgewater, and Stamberger, 40 of Brielle, will be playing in the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Ill. While Handley has never played in a USGA event he has participated in 10 Irish Amateurs in his native country.
“We expect this to be a fair event, but it will require every club in the bag. The hallmark of USGA events is for the greens to be firmer and faster. We will have readings between 11 to 11.5 on the Stimpmeter and the rough will grow to about three inches,” said the USGA’s Matt Sawicki, director of the team championships.
“Hitting the fairways will be at a premium. The course will play to 6,900 yards and it will be tough from tee to green. We will make the players think a little bit on the golf course. There will be different challenges on different days,” Sawicki added.
Galloway National is a Tom Fazio-designed course known for its heavily wooded, sloping bayside property with breathtaking views and challenging features. It plays to a par 71.
Pennsylvania’s team features three-time U.S. Mid-Am champion Nathan Smith and Sean Knapp, both members of that state’s Team Champions in 2009.
The event is the third USGA tournament held in New Jersey in 2012. The U.S. Junior Girls Championship was conducted at Neshanic Valley in June while the USGA Men’s Senior Amateur will take place at Mountain Ridge C.C.in West Caldwell, Sept. 29-Oct. 4.
“We are excited about New Jersey serving as a showcase for three national events this year,” said NJSGA president Tom McGovern.“We feel there are courses in this state that are second to none against any other state and this is one of them. We had a tremendous Mid-Amateur here earlier in the year and our State Open at Manasquan River had the biggest turnout we’ve ever had. It’s a great year for New Jersey golf and this is a major part of it.”