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New Jersey PGA Championship - Preview

September 8th, 2017

In the year since his most significant victory, Alex Beach has reached new heights.


Shortly after the 28-year-old won the New Jersey PGA Championship at Plainfield Country Club last year with a final round 69 that propelled him to a two-stroke victory, he ended his season with his second Fall Finale at Mountain Ridge Country Club and earned honors as the OMEGA Player of the Year.

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“The biggest thing I wanted that week [at the New Jersey PGA Championship] was to try and get back to the PNC [PGA Professional Championship] at Oregon,” Beach said. “Sitting here today, it was the start of a pretty special journey.”


The peak of that journey came last month at Quail Hollow Club when he competed in his first PGA Championship. Beach earned a spot in the field by finishing inside the top 20 at the PGA Professional Championship at Sunriver Resort in Oregon in June.


“It was really exciting to see everything first hand,” Beach said of his experience at the PGA Championship. “I came away with a lot of good knowledge on how to compete at that level. It was nice to sign some autographs and see the kids get excited about it. I really enjoyed it and made the most of it.”



Since 1928, 12 players have successfully defended their Section Championship title. Beach says that he is confident in his game to defend at Mountain Ridge, where he won the Fall Finale in 2015 and 2016.


“I love Mountain Ridge,” Beach said. “Its both long and very fast, which I think suits me.”


Another player expected to contend at Mountain Ridge is Frank Esposito of Forsgate Country Club, who has won this event a record five times.



Esposito, 54, won two of his five Section Championships when it was hosted here in 2007 and 2009. Len Siter, the PGA Head Professional at Mountain Ridge who had a runner-up finish at the New Jersey PGA Senior Championship at Suburban Golf Club in August, hopes to continue his play this season.


The top 11 finishers will be exempt for the PGA Professional Championship presented by Club Car and OMEGA at Bayonet Black Course in Seaside, California. Beach is already exempt into next year’s event.


“I know if I go out and play well and execute the shots that I know I can hit, I’ll be close,” Beach said. “There’s some guys playing great in the Section. To repeat, that would would be great. Hopefully I can try and put three rounds together to keep the trophy.”
 

Q and A With Superintendent Cliff Moore


What were the most recent changes on the 7th hole? 
“Seven was a bowl-shaped green, with one hole location in the center. When we looked at the original drawings from Donald Ross, we saw that green looked nothing like his original drawings. Ron Prichard took that drawing and basically rebuilt that entire green complex.”



What are your favorite holes on this course?
“My favorite hole is the par-3 4th. I think it’s probably one of the best par-3’s in the state. The 12th, prior to 2012, was my least favorite hole. But now, we removed a lot of trees and added a couple fairway bunkers for character and added a little creek on the right side. That to me is now probably my second or third favorite hole on the golf course. That’s one of the best changes we did from tee to green.”



What are your thoughts on the first hole and some other scoring holes for this championship?
“I just think [the first hole] is a great starting hole. You come out of our clubhouse, you look down the fairway, and you see a majority of the golf course. Our par-5’s like the 6th and 9th are very short and reachable par-5’s. But if you go for it in two, you better hope your ball is in the right spot of the green because you could be putting for eagle to double-bogey because of the slope of the green.”
 

Contenders

Alex Beach, PGA
Age: 28   Residence: Springfield, NJ
Club Affiliation: Baltusrol Golf Club
2016 Result: Won
Career Highlights: Won the 2016 NJPGA Championship, Won the 2015 and 2016 Fall Finale, Won the 2016 and 2017 Pro Pro Championship, Runner-up at the 2016 Lincoln Charity Clambake, Semifinalist at the 2015 Greg Norman Match Play Championship, T5 at the 2015 Lincoln Charity Clambake, T3 at the 2015 NJPGA Championship
2017 Highlights: Won the Pro Pro Championship, T5 at the Lincoln Charity Clambake, Competed in the PGA
Championship at Quail Hollow Club, T9 at the PGA
Professional Championship

Bill Britton, PGA
Age: 61   Residence: Red Bank, NJ
Club Affiliation: Trump National Golf Club, Colts Neck
2016 Result: T5
Career Highlights: Won the 2006, 2011-12, and 2015-17 NJPGA Senior Championship, Won the 2005 and 2006 NJPGA Championship, Won the 2011 and 2013 Lincoln Charity Clambake, Won the 2002 U.S. Healthcare Classic, Won the 2006 MGA Met Senior Open, T3 at the 2014 Lincoln Charity Clambake, T3 at the 2014 NJPGA Championship, Won the 2009 Senior PGA Professional Championship, Competed in the 2004 and 2008 PGA Championship, Competed in the 2010-11, and 2016 U.S. Senior Open, Competed in the Senior PGA Championship in 2007-13, 2017
2017 Highlights: Won the NJPGA Senior Championship, Won the MGA Met Senior Open, Competed in the 2017 Senior PGA Championship

Frank Esposito, PGA
Age: 54    Residence: Old Bridge, NJ
Club Affiliation: Forsgate Country Club
2016 Result: T7
Career Highlights: Won the 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2013 NJPGA Championship, Won the 2006, 2007 and 2014 Greg Norman Match Play Championship, Won the 2005-07 Lincoln Charity Clambake, Won the 1994 Charity Classic, Won the 2010 Fall Finale, Won the 1999 NJSGA State Open, Won the 2014 and 2017 NJPGA/NJSGA Senior Open, Won the 2013 NJPGA Senior Championship, 4th at the 2014 PGA Professional Championship, Won the 2014 Senior PGA Professional Championship, Competed in the 2008 and 2014 PGA Championship
2017 Highlights: Finalist at the Greg Norman Match Play Championship, Won the NJPGA/NJSGA Senior Open, T2 at the Lincoln Charity Clambake, T6 at the NJSGA State Open

Pat Fillian, PGA
Age: 31   Residence: Westfield, NJ
Club Affiliation: Echo Lake Country Club
2016 Results: T3
Career Highlights: Won the 2014 NJPGA Championship, Quarterfinalist at the 2015 and 2016 Greg Norman Match Play Championship, T4 at the 2016 Lincoln Charity Clambake, T3 at the 2016 NJPGA Championship, T6 at the 2015 Fall Finale, 7th at the 2014 Lincoln Charity Clambake, T3 at the 2008 NJSGA State Open
2017 Highlights: Semifinalist at the Greg Norman Match Play Championship, Runner-up at the Pro Pro Championship

Brett Jones, PGA
Age: 42   Residence: Basking Ridge, NJ
Club Affiliation: Due Process Stable
2016 Result: T5
Career Highlights: Won the 2015 Lincoln Charity
Clambake, Won the 2015 Greg Norman Match Play
Championship, Won the 2014 Fall Finale, T4 at the 2016 Lincoln Charity Clambake, T3 at the 2015 NJSGA State Open, 7th at the 2015 NJPGA Championship, T5 at the 2015 PGA Professional Championship, Competed in the 2015 PGA Championship
2017 Highlights: T5 at the Lincoln Charity Clambake, T9 at the NJSGA State Open, T23 at the MGA Met Open

Grant Sturgeon, PGA
Age: 39 Residence: Ridgewood, NJ
Club Affiliation: Arcola Country Club
2016 Results: DNP
Career Highlights: Won the 2015 PGA Professional Championship, Won the 2014 MGA Met Open, Won the 2014 Westchester PGA Championship, Won the 2014
Metropolitan Section Assistant Championship, Competed in the 2009 and 2015 PGA Championship
2017 Highlights: Won the Lincoln Charity Clambake, Runner-up at the NJSGA State Open, Quarterfinalist at the Greg Norman Match Play Championship

 

Host PGA Professional Message

 
On behalf of the membership of Mountain Ridge Country Club, we are pleased to welcome you to the 2017 New Jersey PGA Professional Championship. Mountain Ridge has a long tradition of supporting golf in the New Jersey Section as well as hosting local, state and national events. We are proud to host this year’s biggest competition and showcase the abundant talent in our Section.

Our Donald Ross course is consistently regarded as one of the top courses in New Jersey and a classic example of Ross’s style. Restoration of the original Ross design has been overseen by architect Ron Prichard and was celebrated at the club’s centennial anniversary with the staging of the 2012 USGA Senior Amateur. Green Superintendent Cliff Moore and his staff have worked tirelessly to maintain our course and provide outstanding conditions for this tournament. The golf staff continues to provide an incomparable experience for the membership and a leadership role in the New Jersey golf community.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to the Mountain Ridge membership for graciously donating the course for this week in hopes of providing a great venue for exceptional competition. These Section Professionals will be competing for 11 spots in the 2018 PGA Professional Championship at Bayonet Black Horse in Seaside, California, June 17-20, 2018.  There, players will be vying for one of 20 coveted spots in the 2018 PGA Championship to be held at the Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri.

Finally, I would like to recognize the continued and generous support of our event sponsors and thank all of them for their unwavering partnership on behalf of golf in New Jersey: Club Car,
Mercedes-Benz USA, OMEGA, Titleist/FootJoy, TaylorMade/Adidas, Golf Advisor and the PGA Tour.

I wish all the competitors the best of luck in this year’s NJPGA Championship and look forward to serving as your host PGA Professional.

Len Siter, PGA