DEMAREST, N.J. The State´s leading Professionals asserted themselves today, locking up the first page of the leaderboard through two rounds in the 88th NJSGA Open Championship at Alpine Country Club.
On the strength of sub-par rounds today, Brian Gaffney of Rumson (74-69) and Brent Studer of Manasquan River (72-71) find themselves in a three-way tie for the lead along with Mark McCormick of Suburban (70-73) at 143.
Scoring improved in the second round as players started to figure out Alpine´s beguiling Tillinghast layout. Paramount to success here is knowing where to position approach shots on the greens so as to leave manageable putts, and the players are getting more comfortable with Alpine´s quirky greens. The scoring average in Round 2 improved by half a stroke.
A host of other strong contenders sit on the heels of the triumvirate at the top. Mark Schaare of Glenwood (75-69) and Frank Esposito, Jr. of Brooklake (73-71) are one stroke back at 144 and Derek McDonald of Echo Lake (72-73) and Mat Kent of Basking Ridge (71-74) are two strokes back at 145. Three past winners, Chris Dachisen of North Jersey (73-73), Gary Ostrega of Hyatt Hills (74-72) and Greg Farrow of Deerwood (72-74), are also in contention at 146.
The third and final round commences at 7:30 am on Thursday following Wednesday´s cut to the 50 low scorers plus ties. The final round has 57 players, 44 Professionals and 13 amateurs. Low amateur through Round 2 is Robert Cronheim of Twin Brooks at 147 with rounds of 73-74. Defending champion Brian Komline of High Bridge Hills is tied for 42nd place and first round leader Domenic Gatto, Jr. of Eagle Oaks struggled in Round 2 to a T-33 position.