Dylan Stein of Stanton Ridge Golf and Country Club needed four extra holes to hold off Jack Wall of Manasquan River Golf Club and win the New Jersey State Golf Association 117th Amateur Championship, presented by Provident Bank, on Thursday at the par-71, 7,030-yard Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield.
Stein, 21, a rising senior at the University of Arizona and native of Flemington, began the final round one shot off the lead at three-over-par 216 with Wall another shot back at 217.
Stein, a left-handed golfer and graduate of Hunterdon Central Regional High School, forced the playoff when he sank a dramatic 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 No. 18, with Wall already in the clubhouse at one-over-par 285 after shooting a three-under-par 68. Stein nearly matched him with a 69, also finishing at 285.
In the three-hole aggregate playoff, the players matched shot for shot, with pars at the par-4 No. 10, birdies at the par-3 No. 17, and pars at the par-4 No. 18. Stein and Wall continued on to play the 428- yard No. 18 over again. Both put their drives into the right rough about 150 yards from the hole.Stein placed his approach on the green, 42 feet to the left of the hole.
Wall, however, found the rough behind the right side of the green. Wall’s chip shot left him with eight feet for par. Stein then sent his putt to within two feet of the cup. When Wall failed to convert his eight-footer, all Stein had left was a short putt which he sank easily for the triumph.
“I felt if I stayed patient I would have a chance to win it. I made up a lot of ground with three birdies on my front nine in the final round. Coming into 18 at the end of regulation, I was upset because I bogeyed No. 17. “I knew Jack was ahead of me by one shot, and I had to make the putt. I buried it and the crowd went nuts,” said Stein, who transferred to Arizona from Towson University in Maryland. “This feels really good to get this victory under my belt, heading into my senior year at Arizona.”
Stein returns to Echo Lake on Monday in a qualifier for the U.S. Amateur Championship. “I’d love to make it into the U.S. Amateur and get to play Pebble Beach for the first time,” he said.
Wall, 17, who this spring won the NJSIAA High School Tournament of Champions and led Christian Brothers Academy to its second straight Tournament of Champions title, had a string of three birdies on holes 10, 11 and 12 in the final round, enabling him to pull within one stroke of the lead, held by Chris Gotterup of Rumson Country Club. Wall took the lead for the first time in the event when Gotterup went on to bogey 14 and 15.
He maintained that lead all the way until Stein’s birdie putt on No. 18 at the end of regulation.
“On my last hole of the playoff, I had 145 yards left to get to the pin. I thought the ball would jump a little bit, but it didn’t,” he said. "I’ll definitely learn from this for future events.”
Gotterup, a rising sophomore at Rutgers University, briefly led in the final round after 12 holes, but bogeyed four of his final five holes and finished third at three-over-par 287.
Tied for fourth at 289 were defending champion Dawson Jones of Eagle Oaks Golf & Country Club, 2016 champion Thomas La Morte of Haworth Country Club, and Jeremy Wall of Manasquan River, Jack Wall’s older brother.