Nicholas Claims 101st Westchester Open
ARMONK, N.Y. (June 14, 2023) – A 7-under 63 final round propelled James Nicholas of Westchester Country Club to capture the 101st Westchester Open Championship Presented by Poland Spring at The Whippoorwill Club. Nicholas’ 63 was his second in as many days, after he opened the championship with the same score on Tuesday. A Wednesday morning 68 helped lead him to a 16-under-par total and one-shot victory over longtime friend and PGA TOUR Latinoamerica player Josh Goldenberg of Fenway.
Nicholas had a share of the lead with amateur and defending champion Brad Tilley of Sleepy Hollow after Tuesday. Wednesday morning’s round saw scores closer to par for the leaders as they battled poor weather and a 2-hour, 15-minute suspension of play due to lightning. However, the second round of the championship also saw Goldenberg and Alex Beach of Westchester work their way up the leaderboard with scores of 68 and 66, respectively. Nicholas and Tilley both logged a second round 68s to remain tied for the lead heading into the afternoon’s final round.
“In the morning, I think I got a little too caught up in, ‘Where am I, am I ahead or am I behind?’” said Nicholas. “In the last 18 I tried focusing on myself, and just doing what I knew I could do really well and focus on the controllables—that was my mantra the whole entire week, control the controllables.”
While light, intermittent showers continued, Nicholas and Goldenberg separated themselves from the field during the opening nine. Goldenberg started the final round with a pair of birdies to spark a 5-under 30 on the front side. Nicholas carded a 3-under score over the opening nine to keep pace and leave the two tied heading into the home stretch where they continued to roll in birdies.
Nicholas quickly regained his lead with back-to-back birdies, making a 15-footer on the par-4 10th before knocking a 6-iron to just a couple feet on the par-3 11th.
“I knew that I needed to start putting the pedal down and start making a move,” said Nicholas. “Josh wasn’t going to give it to me, I had to go win it.”
Goldenberg wouldn’t go quietly though, as he turned around and made back-to-back birdies, two-putting the par-4 13th after driving the green with a 3-wood and earning his own kick-in on the par-4 14th.
Nicholas’ game remained sharp too though, with an eight-foot birdie putt dropping on the 14th to maintain a one-shot lead. His advantage returned to two after getting up and down for birdie from just short of the par-5 16th, while Goldenberg couldn’t manage the same result from the right greenside bunker.
On 18, Goldenberg rolled in a 40-footer to turn in a course record 8-under 62 and apply the last bit of pressure to Nicholas. But, after a good bunker shot, Nicholas made his remaining three-footer to card 63 and secure the title as daylight waned.
“It was just back and forth all day,” said Nicholas of his battle with good friend Goldenberg. “We were just trying to one-up each other the whole entire day and it was a lot of fun.”
Nicholas had just one bogey for the 54-hole championship, continuing his hot play from last week in which he won the 99th Long Island Open Championship Presented by Stifel.
“To get trophies is really nice,” said Nicholas, after reflecting on many of his close calls in MGA championships through the years. “The win last week at the Long Island [Open] to kind of break that seal was truly an amazing experience and amazing feeling and to go and back it up this week was really icing on the cake. To get these Ws is verification that I’m doing the right stuff.”
With a final round 69, Tilley finished in solo third at 10-under to earn his third-consecutive low amateur honors in the championship. Beach finished at 8-under for the championship for solo fourth while amateur Nolan Forsman of Winged Foot rounded out the top-five at 4-under. Just two more players finished sub-par for the 54-hole championship, with Chris Gabriele of Quaker Ridge and Michael Miller of Knollwood turning in 3-under and 1-under tournament totals, respectively.