A pitch-in birdie from 50 yards on his ninth hole highlighted a round of four-under-par 68 for Jim McGovern of White Beeches who carries a three-shot lead into Wednesday’s final round of the NJPGA/NJSGA Senior Open at Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson.

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McGovern won the championship in 2016 and 2015 and was co-runner-up to Frank Esposito of Forsgate in 2018. Esposito, who also won in 2017 and 2014, Jim Beadle of K-Motion Interactive and Paul Lejeune of Suburban all shot one-under-par 71 to share second place.

Amateur Carlos Ochoa of Little Mill stands at even par 72 while Brent Studer, the host Director of Golf at Metedeconk National, is among four golfers at one-over-par 73. Steady rains came in the mid-morning but never halted play and were gone by 11:30 a.m.

A total of 48 golfers who shot plus-eight 80 or better made the cut and return for Wednesday’s final round. Tee times begin at 7:30 a.m.

Mike LaBrutto of Cobblestone Creek shot four-over par 76, but his round included an ace at the sixth hole of the Third Nine when he hit a 9-iron from 149 yards. It was the fourth hole-in-one of his career.

“I felt like I hit it pretty good today. I had some bad breaks and some good breaks, but they evened out at the end,” said McGovern, who spent 10 years on the PGA Tour. “I was making a lot of putts, some 10-to-12-footers for par.”

McGovern saw a bad break turn into good fortune on the ninth hole of Metedeconk National‘s First Nine.

“I got distracted. I chunked an 8-iron from 149 yards and it left me 50 yards to the hole. I hit a wedge up there past the pin and it spin back and into the hole for a birdie. I gave myself a lot of good chances today.”

McGovern had a spotless final nine holes on the Third Nine at Metedeconk National, carding three birdies, including the ninth hole on that side where he drained a 15-footer.

“Every tournament I play, I want to win. I like them all. I love competing against anybody,” said McGovern, 54.

Esposito’s rounded included four birdies and three bogeys.

“I hit it well. The course was fair. I know what I have to do,” said Esposito, 55.

Beadle, of K-Motion Interactive, a company that specializes in 3-D motion capture for golfers and baseball players, has revamped his swing. “I have better position at the top of my swing and before K-Motion, I did not have a good rotation like I do now,” said Beadle, 54, who sank a 25-foot birdie putt on his final hole, the ninth hole of the First Nine.

Studer, 54, was co-runner-up last year.

“During the rain, my grip slipped on a couple of shots. On one hole, it costs me two shots when I flew the green. I missed a few makeable putts,” Studer said.

Amateur Anthony Fioretti of Ballyowen, who shot two-over-par 74, drained an 85-foot birdie putt on the par-4 No. 8 of the Third Nine.

Professional Kathy Ricci of Bel-Aire Golf Course, the only female in the field, shot 79 to make the cut by one stroke.    

Round 2 will begin at 7:30 on Wednesday morning; live updates and scoring will be available at the NJSGA web site, as well as through its social media platforms.

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