By Mike Dougherty
BRIDGEHAMPTON — It simply wasn’t a good hair day.
An elite field was humbled by a menacing wind Tuesday during the first round of The Ike Championship. It wasn’t easy to walk a straight line down the fescue-lined fairways, much less keep a golf ball on track.
Not a single golfer bettered par at Atlantic Golf Club.
“It was the kind of day to just finish and post a good number,” said Mike Miller, a 19-year-old from Knollwood, who grabbed a share of the lead with a 1-over 73. “If you lose your patience, there goes your round.”
There was plenty of company atop the leaderboard.
Miller was joined by Sam Bernstein of Century, Charlie Edler of Rumson, Ryan McCormick of Suburban and Joe Saladino of Huntington. Each had a story about the shots that got away, but nobody was complaining about the end result.
“It felt like a 67,” Bernstein said after carding two birdies, one bogey and one double. “It was so tough out there.”
There are 19 players within four shots of the lead and plenty of time for a charge. Atlantic is set up to allow plenty of drama. The field was cut to 41 players who are scheduled to play 36 holes today for the Metropolitan Golf Association’s first major title of the season.
“I think it’s coming down to a putting contest now,” Miller said.
GlenArbor’s Ned Zachar (74), Siwanoy’s Ian Palfrey (76) and Westchester’s Max Buckley (76) are still very much in play as well.
The wind kept every shot interesting.
It was blowing 25 mph all day, and even stronger gusts had golfers backing off shot after shot. There was no place to hide.
“Every single shot was affected,” said Patrick Pierson, a member at Minisceongo who opened with a 6-over 78. “Putting was probably the hardest because the ball kept oscillating and you didn’t want to ground the club.”
A number of good starts got away in a hurry.
Pierson was rolling in par after par and was even through 11 holes, but he dropped six shots over the next five holes. It started with a missed 2-footer.
The course was soft after Monday’s rain, but the greens were quick.
“You want to be aggressive, but you really can’t be aggressive,” Buckley said. “If you pull a risky shot off, kudos to you. If you don’t, you are making a big number.”
Patience was indeed a virtue.
“It’s the first day so you’re looking to go out and post a number that gets you in position for tomorrow,” Buckley said. “You’re looking to get a feel for the course under tournament conditions. With this wind, it was about survival. You’re just trying not to do anything stupid.”
Experience in the wind definitely helped.
“The entire golf team at Yale went over to Scotland and England a couple of weeks ago, so I’m used to playing in the wind and the rain,” Bernstein said. “It seems a little stupid now, but I was nervous about missing the cut before I started because they cut after only 18 holes. You make one double or one triple and all of the sudden you’re in trouble. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me out there.”
A number of local notables failed to make the cut, including Sleepy Hollow’s Cameron Young (80) and John Ervasti (80) and Bonnie Briar’s Dylan Newman (82).