By Mike Dougherty
BRIDGEHAMPTON — A very talented group of players could only keep their heads down and marvel at Cameron Wilson as the sun began to set on the 57th Ike Championship.
The 19-year-old who just finished his second year at Stanford lapped them all.
Wilson closed out the Metropolitan Golf Association’s first major of the season with rounds of 65 and 69 at picturesque Atlantic Golf Club to easily capture the championship with an 8-under total of 208. He was able to savor the largest margin of victory in the history of the Ike.
Huntington Country Club’s Joe Saladino and Westchester Country Club’s Max Buckley tied for second at 1-over. Knollwood Country Club’s Mike Miller was fourth at 4-over. Century Country Club’s Sam Bernstein was fifth at 6-over.
There was no point in giving chase.
“When he’s that far in front, the only thing you can do is play your game,” said Buckley, who shot 69 in the morning and 72 in the afternoon. “I wasn’t thinking about what anybody was doing ahead of me. I knew I couldn’t catch Cameron unless I caught fire, so my mindset was getting second. It’s hard to catch a freight train.”
The 7-under 65 Wilson carded before lunch is a course record.
“I had four or five birdie putts inside 10 feet that I missed,” the Shorehaven Country Club member said. “I missed a whole bunch of putts, but I made a bunch of other putts, and I holed out from off the green a couple of times. I feel like I could’ve gone three or four lower this morning without doing things that differently.”
Miller started the day tied for the lead, but a balky putter made it difficult to keep up. He was 3-over following the morning round, then carded four birdies, three bogeys and one double in the afternoon round en route to a 73.
The worst news of the day came on the patio after the round was over.
Miller recently climbed to 32nd in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, and discovered he slipped 20 spots when the latest update was released Wednesday evening. There could be some adjustment, but Miller is likely outside the top 50 players who get exemptions into the upcoming U.S. Amateur Championship.
He may have to qualify at Hollow Brook next month.
“I’m hitting the ball well, but I haven’t been putting well the last two weeks,” Miller said. “Unless this tournament counts, I have to go to a qualifier. … I just need to get two spots. That was my main goal heading into this season, and to get there and fall out, that’s kind of demoralizing.”
Buckley started on the back nine and slowly built momentum. He began to inch up the leaderboard with consecutive birdies on Nos. 1 and 2. The 22-year-old from Westchester Country Club was able to get to 1-over with another at the ninth.
It wasn’t enough to scare Wilson, who lead by five over Saladino after two rounds.
Bernstein, who also started the day with a share of the lead, closed 74-75. He was putting himself in position to make up ground with strong ball-striking, but he also had trouble converting on the slippery greens.
“All you can really do is applaud when somebody plays good golf,” he said. “I thought 1- or 2-under would be fine. Nobody expected Cameron to go out and shoot a 65, although he’s definitely capable of doing it.”
57th Ike Championship
At Atlantic Golf Club
1. Cameron Wilson, Shorehaven Golf Club74-65-69-208
2. Max Buckley, Westchester Country Club76-69-72-217
2. Joseph Saladino, Huntington Country Club 73-71-73-217
4. Mike Miller, Knollwood Country Club 73-74-73-220
5. Sam Bernstein, Century Country Club 73-74-75-222
6. Mike Stamberger, Spring Lake Golf Club75-74-74-223
6. Pat Wilson, Panther Valley Country Club74-75-74-223
8. Ryan McCormick, Suburban Golf Club 73-78-73-224
9. Brandon Dalinka, The Ridge at Back Brook 78-76-71-225
10. Tommy McDonagh, Shorehaven Golf Club 79-75-73-227
11. Hans Albertsson, Hudson Hills Golf Course 78-76-75-229
11. Xander McDonald-Smith, Marine Park Golf Course 76-76-77-229
11. Ned Zachar, GlenArbor Golf Club74-77-78-229
11. Bryan Pendrick, Nassau Country Club 75-74-80-229
For complete results, click here to visit the MGA website.