BEDMINSTER, N.J. – The patience and poise Grant Sturgeon displayed Thursday in the midst of a comeback win at the Met Open was richly rewarded.
And it goes well beyond the oversized check for $27,500.
The 36-year-old assistant professional at Winged Foot is eventually going to see his name engraved on the same trophy once held by a list of golf legends that includes Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson. He will also have an opportunity to defend next summer on familiar turf when the championship is played on the East Course at Winged Foot.
Sturgeon came into the final round tied for the lead with Mike Ballo Jr.
An early stumble on the Old Course at Trump National Bedminster put Sturgeon, a Kentucky native, in chase mode. He was three shots down with six to play, but charged back to post a final-round 71 and win by three shots with a 7-under 209.
“Patience is tough for me on the golf course,” Sturgeon said. “In general, I have high expectations for myself, and sometimes, I guess I could say, I think I’m better than I am, so I’m disappointed when things don’t go well. … I just had to stay patient, keep grinding, and kind of hope for some good things to happen at some point in the round.”
He confidently rolled in three consecutive birdies late in the round to slingshot into the lead.
Sturgeon got within a shot of Woodway’s Ballo on the 14th, pulled even on the 15th and claimed the lead on the 16th. It was a stunning turn of events. Ballo stumbled coming in and fell back into a fourth-place tie.
“The turning point for me was No. 13, the par 4,” Sturgeon said. “I hit it right in the bunker (off the tee). I hit a really good shot that I thought was going to stay on the green. It went over, but I got up and down and made four. Mike made bogey. I got the honor on the next tee and hit it to a couple feet.”
Century assistant Frank Bensel and Huntington assistant Tim Puetz closed with 69s and tied for second at 4-under.
“I felt pretty good there, and I hit some really good shots coming in,” the 46-year-old White Plains native said. “And then I went over the edge (of the hole) on 15, 16 and 17.”
Bensel closed with five straight pars.
An eagle at the final hole would’ve landed Cameron Young in a playoff, but the 17-year-old amateur from Sleepy Hollow Country Club did not see where his approach to the par 5 landed. It was in the water off the edge of the green complex. Young found a ball that appeared to be his in the rough and hit it onto the green.
He quickly noticed the mistake, called the penalty and took a triple bogey.
“It was the same brand and had the same marking as mine,” said Young, who closed with a 75 and dropped into a tie for seventh at 2-under. “I played well enough today, but I missed absolutely everything on the greens. To have that happen, it’s just kind of the way the day went.”
99th Met Open Championship
At Trump National Bedminster, Old Course — Par 72
1. Grant Sturgeon, Winged Foot 70-68-71-209
2. Tim Puetz, Huntington 72-71-69-212
2. Frank Bensel, Century 73-70-69-212
4. (a) Harrison Shih, Alpine 69-74-70-213
4. Cameron Wilson, Shorehaven 69-72-72-213
4. Mike Ballo Jr., Woodway 71-67-75-213
7. Chris Scialo, Paramount 72-71-71-214
7. Sunny Kim, Bethpage 70-73-71-214
7. Rob Labritz, GlenArbor 68-74-72-214
7. (a) Cameron Young, Sleepy Hollow 72-67-75-214
11. (a) Dylan Newman, Hollow Brook 72-70-73-215
11. Brian Lamberti, Richter Park 71-71-73-215
11. John Guyton, Wheatley Hills 71-69-75-215
14. (a) Jim Liu, Stonebridge 74-73-69-216
14. Timothy Hegarty, Sleepy Hollow 78-68-70-216
14. Brett Jones, Mountain Ridge 71-73-72-216
14. Abbie Valentine, Bethpage State Park 72-71-73-216
14. Anthony Aruta, Staten Island Golf Practice Center 71-70-75-216