Luke Feehan Wins State Title at Bellevue

July 24, 2014

Syracuse, NY - The final day of the 2014 N.Y.S. Men’s Amateur Championship consisted of a 36 hole marathon finish. Luke Feehan and Matthew Lowe started the third round at Bellevue Country Club tied for the lead at 143, 1-over par. Matthew Van Niekerk was in third place alone and one behind the leaders, while Patrick Milkovich and Gair Carrigan were two back at 145.

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Tied for sixth place was Billy Gaffney, the young Buffalo standout who plays out of the Crag Burn Golf Club. Gaffney started his morning round on Bellevue’s back nine and got off to a quick start with birdies on 10 and 11. He bogeyed 15, the difficult 150 yard par-3, but rallied with birdies on 17 and 18 to make the turn at -3 for the morning round. Gaffney continued this good play on his back nine, carding three birdies, a bogey and a double to finish with a 3-under 68, the lowest round of the tournament. This put him at +1 for the championship.

The second leaders, Lowe and Feehan, continued their consistent play in round three but wouldn’t match Gaffney. Lowe made the turn at 2-over par after bogeys on 14 and 18, but got it back to +1 for his morning round with a birdie on the first hole and eight consecutive pars to finish. Feehan’s round was a little more up-and-down. He had four bogeys on his first nine (10, 11, 15, and 17) but also birdied 16 and 18 to turn at +2 on his round and +3 for the championship. His play improved on his final nine, which included eight pars and a birdie on the third hole to post a 1-over par 72, good enough to remain tied with Lowe at +2 for the championship and one behind Gaffney.

Eight behind Gaffney at +9 was Bryce Edmister, a recent Binghamton University graduate who currently plays out of Braemar Country Club. Edmister started the championship with rounds of 76-74, but continued to improve with a third round of 72. His best was still to come.

After a break for lunch players started their final round in the afternoon in the same groups they played with in the morning. Gaffney bogeyed two of his first four holes (two and four) to make the turn at +3 for the championship. Lowe also struggled on his opening nine with three bogeys and a birdie to sit at +4, one behind Gaffney. Feehan, still grouped with Lowe, took the lead at the turn after posting an even par 35 on the front to get to +2 overall.

Meanwhile, several groups in front of the leaders, Edmister was beginning to put together a special round. He made bogey on four, one of the most difficult par-4s on the golf course. He followed that with an eagle on the uphill par-5 fifth hole, and then birdied six, bogeyed seven, and birdied eight to make the turn at 2-under par. He birdied 10, then bogeyed 13, and finished with birdies on 17 and 18 to post a final round 67, one better than Gaffney’s morning round, to take the lead in the clubhouse at +5.

Gaffney continued to struggle on his final nine, bogeying 13-16 and finishing with a 6-over 77, two behind Edmister at +7 overall.

Behind Gaffney, Feehan was finding it difficult to close out his competition. He bogeyed 12, 15 and 16 to get to 5-over par, now tied with Edmister who was now following the final group. On 17, Feehan played a beautiful approach to ten feet and made his first birdie since the third hole to take a 1-stroke lead over Edmister and Lowe, who was also at +5 overall.

On 18, Feehan drove into the deep rough left of the fairway while Lowe placed his tee shot in the center of the fairway. Lowe played first and his approach landing on the front of the green about 30 feet away from the flag. Feehan had to play his approach under a pine tree that was directly in front of him, and his low approach soared long and over the green and the back hole location.

Lowe putted first to a few feet from the hole, but had a difficult breaking putt for par to finish at +5. Feehan then played his chip to about ten feet, and would miss the putt to post a 75, good enough to tie Edmister for the lead at +5. It looked like there would be a three-way playoff, but Lowe lipped out his par putt to finish in third at +6 with Penn State’s Xander McDonald-Smith.

Feehan and Edmister made their way to 17 to begin the sudden death playoff shortly after play had completed. Edmister played first after a considerable break in action, and found the left side of the fairway. Feehan also found the fairway his tee shot, but was in a better position down the center.

Edmister was away, so he would play first. His approach landed on the back fringe, but it spun all the way off the green. Feehan’s approach was better controlled, as it spun back to about twelve feet. Edmister’s chip came up about eight feet short. Feehan missed his birdie putt but Edmister failed to convert his putt for par, and Feehan was the 2014 N.Y.S. Men’s Amateur Champion.