Late Surge Propels Balin to Third Westchester Open Title
Balin sinks a birdie putt to claim the 95th Westchester Open by one shot
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (July 11, 2017) – Five birdies over the final nine holes helped Danny Balin of Westchester Country Club erase a six-shot deficit and claim victory in the 95th Westchester Open Championship Presented by Callaway, Tuesday at Wykagyl Country Club. Balin, who takes the $7,200 winner’s share of the $40,000 purse, was the lone player in the field to register three sub-70 rounds, as his scores of 69-68-69 led him to the 10-under 206 total and his third career Westchester Open title (2010, 2015).
Balin, 35 and a past winner on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, entered Tuesday afternoon’s final 18 holes trailing leader David Pastore of Fairview by two shots, following Pastore’s bogey-free, course-record 9-under 63 in the morning. While Pastore kept the pedal down and extended his lead to six shots with nine holes to play, Balin remained persistent and began to make his move on the inward nine.
“You never know what can happen coming down the stretch,” said Balin about his mindset entering those last nine holes. “If you can just kind of play consistent and be strong and make a couple putts here and there, good things can happen.”
Good things certainly happened for Balin, as the comeback began with back-to-back birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 11th—where he knocked both approach shots inside five feet. The birdie on 11 induced a two-shot swing as Pastore found both a fairway and greenside bunker which led to his first bogey of the day. Though Balin gave a shot back on the following hole, he trimmed the lead to just two after gaining a shot on each the next two holes, making birdie from outside 20 feet on the par-3 13th, and securing par on the par-4 15th.
With a wayward drive tangling in the fescue close to a rock, Pastore took an unplayable on the par-5 15th, which led to bogey. Meanwhile, Balin got up and down for birdie to create another two-shot swing and tie Pastore at 9-under with three holes to play.
Heading into the par-5 18th tied, Balin’s second on the blind approach found a greenside bunker while Pastore found the front portion of the green with a back-center hole location. Balin splashed his sand shot to just inside 10 feet, while Pastore’s lengthy eagle bid came up well short and his birdie try just slid by. Balin took advantage, sneaking his putt in the left side of the hole to tally his third birdie in the final six holes and complete the unlikely comeback.
“The greens here at Wykagyl are awesome and the golf course is in great shape. I felt like anytime I got on the green I could make a putt,” said Balin of his game plan to keep it simple with fairways and greens around the course that hosted the LPGA Tour from 1990 to 2006. “I was fortunate to make a few putts.”
“David played great all day, and he had a couple of unfortunate breaks,” said Balin of his battle with Pastore. “Knowing how consistent of a player he is and how good of a player he is, it was just kind of coming down to the wire and it was whoever could hit more quality shots or who could make more putts—fortunately I made a nice putt on the last hole to win.”
Pastore finished solo second following his rounds of 72-63-72 for 9-under 207. His morning round, which clipped the former course record of 64, featured a pair of eagles and five birdies, with nines of 31-32.
CJ Swift of Winged Foot, Peter Ballo of Old Oaks, and Kyle Baehler of Willow Ridge posted matching 7-under 209s to tie for third in the 54-hole championship. The trio climbed up the leaderboard behind strong final rounds of 67, 68 and 68, respectively.
John Stoltz of Osiris, Rob Labritz of GlenArbor, and Charles Meola of Saxon Woods tied for sixth at 6-undr 210. Stoltz and Labritz each fired 6-under 66s in the morning round to place themselves in contention entering the final round. Brice Busse of Metropolis and Adam Rainaud of Winged Foot rounded out the top-10 finishers, posting 4-under 212 totals.
James Nicholas made it a Westchester sweep for the hardware, as the rising junior at Yale finished as low amateur at 3-under 213. Nicholas opened the championship with a 73 on Monday, but posted a pair of 2-under 70s on Tuesday to finish solo 11th.
“To come to Wykagyl and play well the whole week is an honor,” said Nicholas. “I got the putter rolling a little bit and felt really confident with that, so that was definitely a big part of my game.”
During Tuesday’s rounds, Wykagyl played to a par-72 at 6,566 and 6,684 yards. Players raved about the stellar conditions from tee to green as the classic design provided a quality test of golf.