Anxiety building for Bartlett
It was after the first round of June's West Virginia Amateur that the field heard the news: In addition to being state champion, the winner of the tournament would receive an exemption to play in the PGA Greenbrier Classic.
And just like that, an entire field of relatively cool and collected golfers was struck with a case of the butterflies.
Jonathan Bartlett would be very surprised if any golfer that day said otherwise.
Bartlett didn't have to worry about the high stakes much longer. After a rough final round by defending champion Tim Fisher, Bartlett took the crown - and the Greenbrier exemption.
The 72-hole event runs Thursday to Sunday at The Greenbrier's par-70 Old White Course in White Sulphur Springs.
Bartlett, 33, a resident of Lewisburg, is in his final week of preparation for the PGA's inaugural event at The Greenbrier. Now, he says, he's more anxious than nervous. Next week, though?
"I think I will be [nervous] on the No. 1 tee," he said. "The average golfer gets nervous, no matter what the tournament is. Right now, I'm dealing more with the anxiety."
The exemption came as a relief for Bartlett in more ways than one.
He was actually signed up for the Monday qualifier at the Cobb Course in Daniels to win one of just a handful of spots into the Classic.
Needless to say, Bartlett got his money back.
After an All-America performance at the University of Mississippi, back problems sidelined him from the game for years, but he worked his way back through the ranks to achieve his goal of playing in a professional tournament.
"It's the pinnacle of being a golfer," he said. "It's just a dream come true."
As a real estate salesman at The Greenbrier Sporting Club, Bartlett may have a few advantages on the field. He knows the course, he's won at the course, and he's just a stone's throw from home.
As an amateur, he said, he couldn't be in a better position.
But his competition is no group of slouches.
"Do I know the course better? Absolutely. But by the time they get here, it doesn't take a good player very long to figure out where to or where not to hit it," he said.
Bartlett moved to West Virginia in May 2007 from the Ocala, Fla., area.
His routine, as far as successful golfers go, is far from routine. To Bartlett, golf isn't a priority. Spending time with his family, selling real estate and going trout fishing are his priorities.
"I'm one of those players who the more I play, the worse I play. If I play more than a couple times a week, I just get bored of it. I am definitely not as obsessed with [golf] as I was when I was younger," he said.
He has friends coming in from Florida, Ohio, Louisiana and Mississippi. So he'll have more than his fair share of fans to impress on the links.
Bartlett, however, doesn't have too lofty a goal for the tournament - make the cut.
"Whether or not that's realistic, who knows?" he said. "I'm talking about the best players in the world.
"That would complete my week."
Tee times and pairings will be announced prior to the tournament, and a full field will be announced today after the entry deadline of 5 p.m.
Reach Mike Balducci at (304) 348-5184.