By Mike Dougherty
FARMINGDALE The sunburned expression quickly transitioned from hopeful to pained as Brian Bartow watched his putt from 10 feet to save par and extend a playoff drift slightly off line.
Jeb Buchanan claimed the New York State Open a moment later on Bethpage State Park’s famed Black Course, making good on a test from four feet.
“We had it pretty straight,” said Bartow, a 26-year-old from Rye, who is working in the bag room at Sunningdale and readying his game for Q school. “I don’t know if maybe I pushed that final putt or if maybe it went a little right. I got it to the hole, but I missed.”
And the best week of a four-year professional career ended in disappointment.
“I haven’t ever had a chance to win one of these up here so to be in contention was great,” Bartow said. “I told my caddie on 17 that this was a lot of fun. I haven’t been in contention for a while. I wish I could’ve put more pressure on Jeb in the playoff, but that last 4-footer, I had that same putt in regulation, and it wasn’t easy.”
Buchanan is a mini-tour player from upstate Loudonville. The 24-year-old led wire-to-wire, finishing with a 6-under 207 total, but closing out was difficult. He closed with a wild 75 and watched a five-shot lead evaporate.
A bogey on the 17th hole dropped the former UConn standout into a tie with Bartow, who posted the best round of the day, a 3-under 68.
There was no time for regrets as the playoff began immediately on the 18th hole.
“I had just played the hole really well before, and being able to sign my card and go right back out there really helped,” said Buchanan, who swings left-handed and putts right-handed. “I knew what to do and just felt really confident. My caddie and I were joking, my drive in the playoff was two yards from the previous one so we knew what to do on the shot in.”
Bartow did not make many bad swings, and applied pressure with a birdies at Nos. 14 and 17.
“I thought Jeb was at 7- or 8- or 9-under, so I really didn’t know and was just hoping to post a number and maybe have a chance,” he said. “I crossed over the road to 15 and saw on the scoreboard I was only three back. I was right in it.”
Bartow waited 30 minutes for the final group to finish, and got into trouble when his approach in the playoff came up just short of the green and fell back into a deep bunker.
He did well to escape and give himself a chance at par.
Buchanan landed his approach on the middle of the green and calmly two-putted to lock up the win.
“My birthday is Sunday and I turn 25, so this is as good a gift as I can give myself,” he said. “I’ve been really close recently with my golf and to win in a playoff at one of the best courses in the world means a lot to me.”