Bartlett gambles, makes the cut
And why not? Jonathan Bartlett, an amateur from Lewisburg who picked up a sponsor's exemption into the Greenbrier Classic, saw the priceless opportunity of making the cut in a PGA Tour event.
But on the par-5 572-yard No. 17 hole on Friday afternoon, he needed to reach the green in two and, to do so, needed to somehow avoid the two bunkers that protected the green and had forced many a golfer to play it safe.
"I had to make four or go home,'' said Bartlett. "I had about 265 [yards] with a left-to-right wind. I can't fly it 265, and there's two bunkers that are probably 15 yards apart. For me to get it on the green, I had to hit right there and let it roll up.''
And sure enough, he hit it between the bunkers, the ball rolled to within 20 feet and he two-putted for a birdie, his fourth on the back nine.
"I just hit the 3-wood of my career, basically,'' he said. "I hit it exactly how you picture the shot. I was lucky. It was a gamble, and at the same time it wasn't. If I don't make birdie, I'm going home anyway.''
He nearly had another birdie on the par-3 162-yard 18th, hitting his approach to within 10 feet but missing the putt.
Helped by his splendid 3-wood, he finished at 2-under 70-68-138, allowing him to make the cut right on the number, minus-2.
After a 2-over 36 on the front nine - which put him at 2 over for the tournament - he closed with a 4-under 32 on the back, leaving him in limbo for much of Friday afternoon.
When he walked off the 18th green, the projected cut stood at minus-2 but, as others finished, it changed to minus-3. By about 6 p.m., the projected cut returned to minus-2 and stayed there, putting Bartlett in position to play another day.
He faces the prospect of another cut, however, after today's round. Eighty-five players made the cut, and a relative new PGA Tour rule will reduce that field closer to 70 after today.
Whatever happens, it's been a memorable week for the 2010 State Amateur champion and former Ole Miss golfer. Friends and family from West Virginia and adjoining states made the trek to The Greenbrier and followed him for 18 holes on the Old White course and, all things considered, he believes he played well.
"I wish I had made that putt on 18,'' he said, "but that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes. It's been fantastic. It's all I dreamed of.''
He played meticulously and thoughtfully, like a pitcher staring down a batter before delivering. He took care to determine the precise distances before each shot, knowing that a chance like this might come along only once in a lifetime.
He also felt a bit self-conscious in front of his playing partners, PGA Tour pros Roger Tambellini and Matt Every.
"Roger and Matt were probably rolling their eyes at me, but it was me coming down the stretch in contention today to make the cut,'' said Bartlett. "[Making the cut] is the tournament for me. I'm not in contention to win the tournament.
"I'm not a professional golfer like these guys. I've played mini-tour golf, but it was nothing like these guys. I felt the nerves; I felt the pressure. I hit a lot of great shots coming down to the end. I still missed a couple opportunities for birdies, but from where I was going into 10, I was pleased.''
Bartlett works as an independent contractor selling real estate for the Greenbrier Sporting Club.
Reach Mike Whiteford at 304-348-7948 or mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.