New Jersey golfer makes dramatic putt to stay alive at 122nd U.S. Amateur

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PARAMUS, N.J. – Mark Costanza represents New Jersey’s last chance to advance at the 122nd U.S. Amateur Championship.

The 33-year-old from Morris County made a dramatic birdie putt on his final hole during Tuesday’s second round of stroke-play qualifying and it lifted him into a Wednesday morning playoff to advance to match play.

“It’s just really satisfying to make that one at the end,” said Costanza, last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up.

Costanza’s 25-foot birdie putt on the par-5 ninth hole at Arcola Country Club ignited Garden State fans and put him just inside the cut line. He shot 2-over-par 72 and that, combined with Monday’s 3-over 74 at Ridgewood CC, gave him 5-over 146.

“It was one that I almost kind of willed into the hole, because I had so many chances on that back nine to make a birdie, and I had great putts and great looks at it and couldn’t get one to drop,” Costanza said.

Costanza was born and raised here in Bergen County, starred at nearby Bergen Catholic, and his putt drew a loud roar from the partisan crowd.

"I definitely heard them,” said Costanza, the 2020 New Jersey Open titlist. “I was screaming on the inside, I can tell you that. I kind of knew because a lot of guys were saying they were going to come out and watch, and if I can get into match play, I think it'll only grow from there. I look forward to the excitement, and I enjoy playing on this kind of stage, and I just hope I can move forward.”

One bad hole each day hurt Costanza. Monday at Ridgewood, he had a triple-bogey on the par-5 17th. Tuesday at Arcola, he double-bogeyed the par-3 second hole. Still, he will swing a club Wednesday in a playoff, with a chance to advance.

“I'd be kicking myself if I didn't make that putt, and we'll obviously see what happens,” said Costanza, a member at Hamilton Farm GC in Gladstone. “But I played really well the last two days. I made a triple yesterday and I made a double today. If I take just a couple strokes off both of those, I'm in clean.”

A starting field of 312 is cut to the low 64 for match play and Costanza climbed into the match-play picture Tuesday afternoon by playing his last seven holes at 2-under. He birdied the par-4 fourth hole, then parred the next four holes.

All remaining action will be at Ridgewood CC and Wednesday’s playoff will commence at 7:30 a.m. on the 15th hole. The playoff survivors will then be slotted into the 64-play match-play bracket.

Heading into the final 60 minutes of action, there was a four-way tie among collegians for medalist at 3-under 138: Michael Thorbjornsen, 20, of Massachusetts, Luke Gutschewski, 19, of Nebraska, Hugo Townsend, 23, of Sweden, and collegian Fred Biondi of Brazil. Thorbjornsen double-bogeyed his final hole at Arcola to shoot 70.

Costanza was among five from the Garden State, and eight from the New Jersey/New York area, to compete, and the only one still alive:

William O’Neill of Morristown closed with 77 at Ridgewood to finish at 149. Austin Devereux of Brielle, the 2020 New Jersey Amateur titlist at Arcola, closed with 75 at Ridgewood to finish at 152.

Doug Ergood of Mount Laurel finished with 79 at Arcola to shoot 155. Matthew Mattare of Jersey City shot 78 at Ridgewood to close with 156.

The trio from the Big Apple-area came multiple shots shy of advancing. Collegian Luke Sample of New York City, this year’s MGA “Ike” Stroke Play titlist, shot 74 at Arcola for 150. Matthew Lowe of Farmingdale had 79 at Arcola for 158. Christian Cavaliere of Katonah had 79 at Ridgewood for 157.

This article originally appeared on New Jersey golfer makes dramatic putt, stays alive at 122nd US Amateur