Darien resident, Brunswick student Ben Carpenter wins MGA Carter Cup
SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Ben Carpenter recently had his practice round on the Upper Course at Baltusrol Golf Club in preparation for the MGA Carter Cup, yet as it turned out, the one-day, 17th annual tournament was held on the club’s Lower Course.
As the results show, however, Carpenter didn’t need a practice round on the Lower Course to capture a trophy on Wednesday.
Shooting a 2-under-par 69, Carpenter, a Darien resident and Brunswick School rising senior, won the MGA Carter Cup at historic Baltusrol Golf Club.
The 18-year-old Carpenter, was one of only two players to post red numbers in the 43-player field, which was abbreviated for the third consecutive year. In 2017, the 36-hole tournament was shortened to 18 holes due to inclement weather and in 2018, 27 holes were played because of thunderstorms. Wednesday, thunder and lightening in the area, along with showers caused the Carter Cup to be delayed for two hours, before tournament officials decided to limit it to an 18-hole event, because of the weather.
Nathan Han of Somers, N.Y., was the runner-up, carding a 1-under-par 70. Sean Vowells of Chatham, N.J., Edmund Broderick, (Bayonne, N.J.), James Allen (Scarsdale, N.Y.), Dean Greyersman (Short Hills, N.J.) and Stephen Sul (Old Bridge, N.J.) each tied for third at 1-over 72.
Connor Belcastro, a 2019 Brunswick School graduate from Rowayton, finished in an eighth-place tie with four other players with a 2-over-par 73.
“I am super honored to win this event,” Carpenter said. “This was the first year that I played in this tournament and coming into it I had been playing well the past two weeks. I just wanted to continue my good play.”
Carpenter’s round featured three birdies, 13 pars and only one bogey. He birdied the par-4 13th hole, the par-4 15th hole and No. 17 - also a par 4. His short game was consistent throughout at Baltusrol, which has hosted the U.S. Open six times and the PGA Champion on two occasions (2005, 2016). The MGA Met Open has also been held at Baltusrol twice, while the Met Amateur has taken place at the challenging course four times.
Making Carpenter’s round on Wednesday even more impressive was that he played the Lower Course without the benefit of having a practice round.
“It’s actually funny, I played the upper course in my practice round, so I had never seen the lower course,” said Carpenter, who advanced to the quarterfinal-round of the MGA Met Junior Championship two weeks ago. “I was assuming we were going to play on the upper course. So every tee box I spent two minutes figuring out what I was going to do and I went from there.”
That worked just fine for the 2019 Carter Cup champion, who has enjoyed a busy and successful, summer. He will test his skills at the MGA Met Amateur Championship, which begins Thursday at Hudson National Golf Club in Croton, N.Y. and the Met Open Championship in late August.
“This year is really the first year I started playing MGA events,” Carpenter said. “I got to play in the Ike Championship last month, which was great too. All the MGA tournaments are awesome and I look forward to playing in the Met Amateur and Met Open. Around early July, everything in my game started coming together. I’ve shot 3-under par to 1 -over every round I played.”
Belcastro, who began his round on the 10th hole Wednesday, sank birdie putts on Nos. 14 (par 4) and 18 (par 4).
“This is a championship golf course and there is a reason it is a championship golf course,” Belcastro said. “This course has hosted majors and is one of the best 36-hole golf courses in the country, there is a lot of history here. I was so happy to have the opportunity to play on a course that was set up for a championship test.”
The 18-year-old Belcastro will compete in the Northern Junior Amateur, before taking his golf clubs to Princeton University.
“I am looking forward to playing golf at Princeton so much,” Belcastro said. “I can’t wait to join the team.”
Belcastro is also looking forward to competing on the same team as Greenwich resident Jackson Fretty. The 2019 Greenwich High graduate tied for 13th on Wednesday with a 3-over-par 74. A member of Greenwich’s state and FCIAC championship squads this past spring, Fretty, who will also play at Princeton, parred 14 holes and sank a birdie putt on the seventh hole Wednesday.
“It was a tough day on the greens, couldn’t get anything going and couldn’t get anything to drop,” Fretty said. “But at the end of the day, it was nice to be out there on a super nice track. We had a good time out there and it was fun.”
Fretty, 18, will play in the 2019 MGA Met Amateur and hopes to compete in the New England Junior Amateur.
“The MGA is a premier section for golf events and it’s definitely a special feeling to be a part of tournaments such as this,” Fretty said.
Douglas Beney of Greenwich shot a 6-over 77 on Wednesday, while Sam Ives from New Canaan finished with a 7-over 78. Tyler Donnellan of Greenwich carded an 80.
About the Carter Cup: The MGA Carter Cup was first held in 2003 and was named in honor of the late Michael P. Carter. Carter was an accomplished junior player at Baltusrol Golf Club and was a standout member of the golf team at Delbarton School. Born in 1982, Carter died in a car accident in 2002. He was a member of the men’s golf team at Penn State University at the time of his death.