By Mike Dougherty
FARMINGDALE – The famed Black Course at Bethpage State Park is not usually considered user friendly, but the former U.S. Open venue is giving up birdie after birdie this week.
And that’s giving everyone looking up at Jeb Buchanan a reason to believe.
The mini-tour player from upstate Loudonville is leading the New York State Open by five shots heading into the final round. He’s making it look easy with back-to-back 66s in prime scoring conditions. There are some talented players chasing the former UConn standout, but there is a lot of ground to make up.
It’s unlikely the weather is going to act up Thursday, making the climb even steeper.
“Jeb has a nice lead, but he still has to play well,” said Chris Scialo, a Rockland native who is 4-under following a second-round 70 and is trailing by six. “We know there’s a 65 or 66 out there, so I’m just going to hope that a few more putts drop and I’ll have a chance at the end.”
Heads were shaking when players coming in off impressive rounds realized they were not charging up the leader board.
“I have to do some work,” Sleepy Hollow amateur Cameron Young said after moving into a tie for eighth place at 3-under 139. “I was hoping to catch up a little more.”
He shot a 67 on Wednesday despite a double bogey on the seventh.
“I was pretty solid all day,” Young added. “I started out with a birdie at No. 1 and got another one No. 4. On this course, that’s important to do because the finish is do tough.”
The cut was 6-over, a record low on this course.
Brian Bartow also has an outside chance to contend in the final round after shooting a 67 at getting to 3-under for the championship. The 26-year-old from Rye is hoping to play full time. He currently works in the bag room and caddies on weekends at Sunningdale Country Club.
It helps pay entry fees and travel expenses.
“They have been so good to me,” said Bartow, who played baseball at Rye Neck for two seasons before switching to golf. “They allow me to practice during the week and make some money. … For sure, I’m a late bloomer, and I’ve taken a different route than most, working first as a club pro and learning the business. My game wasn’t quite ready when I turned pro. I feel now like my best golf is in front of me because I have the ability and just have to put the right pieces together.”
He’s only made three bogeys in two rounds.
“I’ve played solid golf both days and haven’t made any big mistakes,” Bartow said. “The course is great for scoring. The greens are rolling well. You can put a good stroke on the ball and not have to worry it’s going to race past the hole. This is my favorite tournament up here, and the course is a favorite of mine, so to play well this week is really nice.”
(Photos: Top Chris Scialo, Rob Labritz, in red, bottom)
Lenox Advisors New York State Open
At Bethpage State Park – Black Course – Par 71
1. Jeb Buchanan, Schuyler Meadows 66-66-132
2. Michael Furci, West Sayville 69-68-137
2. Ben Polland, Deepdale 69-68-137
4. Scott Berliner, Hiland Park 70-68-138
4. John Guyton, Wheatley Hills 69-69-138
4. James Hazen, St. George’s 68-70-138
4. Chris Scialo, Paramount 68-70-138
8. Brian Bartow, Sunningdale 72-67-139
8. Cameron Young (a), Sleepy Hollow 72-67-139
8. Matthew Lowe (a), Colonial Springs 68-71-139
11. John Stoltz, Concord 70-70-140
11. Matt Dobyns, Fresh Meadow 74-66-140
11. Rob Labritz, GlenArbor 68-72-140
14. Nick Beddow, Piping Rock 69-72-141
15. Matthew Campbell, Teugega 73-69-142
15. Frank Bensel, Century 68-74-142
15. Chris Deforest, Rondout 74-68-142
15. Brian Gaffney, Quaker Ridge 73-69-142
15. Bryan Bigley, Pinehaven 72-70-142
15. Greg Bisconti, Saint Andrew’s 69-73-142
15. Mark Brown, Tam O’Shanter Club 73-69-142