Senior Open Preview: Studer takes aim at title on home Course
When the NJPGA/NJSGA Senior Open Championship begins this week Tuesday, May 28, at the renowned Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson, host PGA Director of Golf, Brent Studer, will have a sharp focus on the prize.
In last year’s Senior Open at Green Brook, Studer finished as co-runner-up behind champion Frank Esposito Jr. of Forsgate which came in the midst of one of the hottest streaks in Studer’s career. In 2018, the longtime NJPGA star won the New Jersey PGA Section Championship for a fourth time as well as the NJPGA Senior Championship.
But, at age 54, he’s never won the Senior Open – giving him a great opportunity for a first-time victory on his home course.
“It’s always tough to play at your home course, but I’ve got a great staff and great support from the club. It's all about how you play; if it were based on potential, I’d own a couple of those titles. It also depends on who shows up this week,” said Studer, who last week competed in the Senior PGA Open Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
Esposito will also tee it up at Metedeconk National, seeking his third straight title and fourth overall, having won in 2014, 2017, and 2018. Joining him will be the other co-runner-up from 2018, former PGA Tour pro Jim McGovern, who won the event in 2015 and 2016. Another threat in the field is Bill Britton of Trump National G.C. in Colts Neck, who won the event three straight years, 2011-13.
“Every year, it’s a great field. Last year, obviously, I had my 'A' game last year at Green Brook,” Studer said. “I played extremely well and during that time had a stretch of 11 or 12 rounds where I was total of something like 50 under par. I just couldn’t play any better. All I’m trying to do right now is to get that feeling back.”
Included in that streak were Studer’s victory in the Senior New Jersey PGA at Navesink and NJPGA Section title at Crestmont, and, of course, his co-runner-up showing at Green Brook.
The timing for Esposito turned out to be perfect, as he pulled out of a slump.
“I was struggling off the tee and I started to lose confidence. In this game, you’ve got to have confidence,” he said. “It’s always nice to win an open championship in your state.”
A switch back to his former driver and 3-wood helped him get his game back on track.
“This was good timing for me,” said Esposito, who won the Senior PGA Professional National Championship in 2014 and 2017 and participated in the event last year in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Studer expect the conditions at Metedeconk National to be near perfect for the NJPGA/NJSGA Senior Open.
“The golf course is setting up beautifully. The greens are in great condition. The tee boxes and fairways are in great condition. Because of the lack of warm weather, the green surrounds are okay, but not that plush rough that we’re used to. Other than that, it will play as a championship course,” he noted.
Located in the upper region of the New Jersey Pinelands, Metedeconk National was created as a golfing oasis, a departure from the hustle and bustle of New York City and Philadelphia, each of which is within one hour’s drive.
World-renowned golf course architects Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Roger Rulewich designed the private, 27-hole facility. The club, opened in 1987, has been ranked by Golfweek among its “Top 100 Modern” golf courses.