FARMINGDALE — After he captured all three of the local majors last summer, Danny Balin had a number of peers offering to pay his Q-school entry fee.
It was all tongue in cheek.
There’s a very good chance a hat will actually be passed before this season ends if the 31-year-old Burning Tree assistant keeps running away with crystal trophies and oversized checks. Balin repeated at the New York State Open Championship on Thursday, closing with a steady 1-over 72 at Bethpage Black in tricky conditions to win by two strokes with a 7-under 206 total.
He wore the usual mischievous smile all the way around.
“It was a good day,” said Balin, who collected $17,500 for this win. “I played solid. The first hole I kinda hit it a little right off the tee and was in a bad spot, but I got it up into the front bunker and made a great up and down, and ended up making a putt on the next hole for a birdie, so I kinda stole two shots right off the bat. It could’ve gone the opposite way.”
Maybe so, but it rarely does for the natural competitor who’s captured player-of-the-year honors each of the last three seasons.
Andrew Giuliani, a 27-year-old mini-tour player who calls Trump National-Westchester home base each summer, also closed with a 72 and finished second. It was still a positive showing for a player who’s looking to find momentum.
“The last 36 holes I didn’t strike it quite the way I wanted to,” the former Met Open champion said. “I wasn’t quite starting on my line so I wasn’t giving myself a lot of good looks to make birdie and I think that’s what the difference was. … I love the stuff I’m working on and I think it’s going to be a really good stretch toward the end of the summer.”
Balin has plenty of evidence to believe the same thing.
He’s going to be playing in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester next month, and believes the confidence gained this week will carry over. Each tournament is a step toward achieving the goal of becoming a member of the PGA Tour.
All four of his Q-school visits have been fruitless.
“It’s hard to get out there and I’m just lucky I have some place to hang my hat and go back to,” Balin said. “Burning Tree has allowed me to do the things I want to do. I have to just keep doing what I’m doing. There are lots of guys who have gone to Q-school for years and not gotten through. Hopefully, that won’t be me, but I’m going to keep trying until I get through.”
Dan McCarthy, a touring pro from Syracuse, finished third at 4-under.
Metropolis’ John Guyton (72), Century’s Frank Bensel (73) and Garden City’s Bob Rittberger (74) tied for fourth at 215.
“I had a bad start the first day, I was 4-over after four holes so I was just trying to claw my way back,” Bensel said. “This course is so hard. Everybody, maybe not Danny, but for the most part, everybody is going to hit a bump in the road. There are double and triple bogeys waiting for you out there so you just have to kind of manage your game and make some putts.”
Lenox Advisors New York State Open
At Bethpage Black – par 71
1. Danny Balin, Burning Tree 66-68-72-206
2. Andrew Giuliani, Trump National – Westchester 66-70-72-208
3. Dan McCarthy, Bellevue 72-70-67-209
4. John Guyton, Metropolis 74-69-72-215
4. Frank Bensel, Century 73-69-73-215
4. Bob Rittberger, Garden City 69-72-74-215
7. Timothy Hegarty, Sleepy Hollow 71-75-70-216
7. Chris Deforest, Rondout 69-74-73-216
7. Scott Ford, North Hills 74-69-73-216
7. David Schuster, Rotella Memorial 71-69-76-216
11. Joseph Saladino (a), Huntington 74-73-70-217
11. Scott Berliner, Cobleskill 71-74-72-217
11. Jamie Sindelar, Soaring Eagles74-69-74-217
11. Greg Etimos, Island Hills 74-69-74-217
11. Bryan Bigley, Pinehaven70-70-77-217