By Mike Dougherty
WEST ORANGE, N.J. – He wanted no part of the scoreboard watching that normally comes with leading a golf tournament late in the final round, but David Pastore did notice the gallery was growing as he got closer to the clubhouse.
There was a crowd waiting at the 18th green.
Pastore closed with a 3-under 67 to win the 59th Ike Championship by four strokes Tuesday at Montclair Golf Club. The 22-year-old Greenwich, Connecticut, resident leapfrogged Sam Bernstein in the final round and finished with a 2-under 208 total.
“I’ve looked in the past and usually nothing good comes from it,” said Pastore, who played at the University of Virginia. “I knew I was playing well, and if I just played my game without worrying how everyone was doing I would be fine.
“On the 17th and 18th holes, I looked back at the group behind and didn’t see as many people so I figured something was up. I still didn’t know if it was a one-shot lead or a couple.”
Bernstein was one shot in front when the final round got under way after lunch, but finished with a 2-over 72. The recent Yale graduate, who plays out of Century Country Club, wound up at 2-over with a 212 total.
A three-week layoff exacted a toll.
“I kind of stuck to the same stuff I was doing, the putts just weren’t falling for me, and the rust from not playing for a couple of weeks got to me a bit, especially around the greens,” Bernstein said. “My short game just wasn’t as sharp as it normally is. I knew that going in and was trying to play around it, but it caught up to me today over the 36 holes.
“I think I had five straight putts that I thought were in and burned the edge or lipped out on Nos. 7 through 11, so that kind of killed me.”
He was in chase mode early in the final round as Pastore rolled in four birdies over the first seven holes.
Matthew Lowe (Colonial Springs), Brian Komline (Black Oak) and Danny Guise (Griff Harris) tied for third at 213. The other locals slipped. Jonathan Renza (Mohansic) was tied for 13th at 217. David Weisfeld (Hudson National) was tied for 16th at 220. Blake Schulman (Old Oaks) was tied for 19th at 221. James Nicholas (Winged Foot) was tied for 29th at 224.
There wasn’t a single bogey on Bernstein’s card on Monday, and he extended that streak to 21 holes Tuesday before losing momentum. He also dropped a stroke on each of the last three holes, closing the second round with an even-par total of 140.