100th Met Open Championship
Only two open championships in the U.S. predate the Metropolitan Golf Association’s premiere championship.
Winged Foot is hosting this event for a seventh time, but for the the championship will be played on the East Course for the first time. The A.W. Tillinghast design is a perennial Top 100 gem that Gil Hanse finished restoring in the spring.
“I think I’m a much better green builder now, having spent time on these greens at Winged Foot,” Hanse said. “They are as good as anything I’ve ever seen.”
There is a Monday pro-am followed by two rounds of competition on Tuesday and Wednesday before the field is cut to low-60 and ties for Thursday’s final round.
Professionals are competing for $150,000 in prize money.
The name game
For a period of time before the Met Open took a hiatus during World War II, it was a regular event on the professional circuit, recognized among the majors. The names of the past winners include all-time greats like Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson. Current PGA Tour members Johnson Wagner and Andrew Svoboda have also won the championship in more recent years.
The defending champion
Grant Sturgeon, a Winged Foot assistant professional, will be defending his title on home turf after capturing the Championship last year at Trump National – Bedminster.
“I have not had the privilege to play every great course in the U.S., but of everywhere I have played, it truly is my favorite walk,” Sturgeon said of the East Course. “It challenges every single part of your game physically as well as mentally because of the variety of holes and how you’re rewarded when you hit golf shots of the utmost value.
“The 13th hole, the par 3, is my favorite golf hole I’ve ever played. It’s the perfect distance with the perfect green to reward a good shot and punish a mishit. Our par 3s on the East rival any in the world.”
The featured pairing
Sleepy Hollow amateur Cameron Young is squeezing in one more tournament before heading to Wake Forest. Fresh Meadow head pro Matt Dobyns won the PGA Professional National Championship and played in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Panther Valley member Pat Wilson is a mini-tour player who’s past wins include the Met Amateur Championship. The go Tuesday at 1:40 p.m. from the 11th tee and Friday at 8:40 a.m. from the first tee.
The home team
Winged Foot head professional Mike Gilmore, the 2000 Met Open winner, and assistant Michael Durkin join Sturgeon in the field along with amateurs Max Adler and Brian Williams.
Winged Foot’s treasured East Course is a par-70 test that will play 6,831 yards for Round 1. The greens will no doubt inspire moments of utter exasperation for many in the field.
“The recently renovated East Course will play approx. 6,900 yards for each round of the 54-hole championship and will provide a comprehensive test for the Met area’s very best professionals and amateurs,” MGA director of rules and competitions Brian Mahoney said. “At Winged Foot, to succeed the winner will need creativity, patience and a strong wedge game. Birdies will come at a premium as the East will prove length isn’t a prerequisite for difficulty.”
The rules for spectators
Spectators may attend MGA championships at their own risk and are expected to follow the host club’s rules for dress and use of electronic devices. If you go, maintain a reasonable distance from the competitors. Do not venture onto the greens or into the sand traps.