BEDFORD – Rob Labritz is in good company.
The director of golf at GlenArbor played the final round of the 94th Westchester Open with a caravan of members, family and staff in tow. And when the 45-year-old tapped in for par to clinch a three-shot victory, he joined the likes of Ben Hogan and Claude Harmon.
How cool is that?
“That is the best reason to win this one,” Labritz said. “I won a championship that Ben Hogan won. Are you kidding me? That is awesome.”
It was a long day for everyone in the field with heat and humidity slowing play in the second and third rounds. The 45-year-old resident of Pound Ridge shot 7-under 65 before lunch, leapfrogging Old Oaks assistant Peter Ballo.
Labritz closed with a 2-under 70, finishing three shots clear with a 16-under total of 200.
“I played good golf the first two rounds,” he said after collecting a $7,200 prize. “And this afternoon, I played well enough to get it done. I was fighting a little bit of left coming in so I tried not hitting the ball left, and I hit a lot of shots right. That’s fine because the last six holes at GlenArbor, you can’t hit it left or you’re going to make big numbers.”
Frank Bensel jumped into second place at 13-under, closing with a 68.
Three late bogeys left Ballo in third place at 12-under. He shot a 73 over the last 18 holes of the championship, but proved to be a tough out.
“After two good rounds with just one bogey, it was a little bit of a struggle,” he said. “The greens
seemed to get quicker and my speed was a little off in the beginning of the final round. I just hit a couple of bad putts at the end.”
Labritz carded 16 birdies and three eagles on the home course.
“There was no pressure,” he said. “All of the course knowledge takes all the pressure away. Nobody here this week has played the course more than me.”
Labritz was firmly in control after hitting a 7-iron within tap-in range on the 11th hole, a 190-yard par 3. Ballo went long and was unable to get up and down for par. Labritz deposited the birdie to make it a four-shot cushion.
Bensel was making a charge, but got caught up in the fescue on the eighth hole and lost momentum when he took a double. The defending champion, Danny Balin, was also making up ground in a hurry, but took a double at the 12th hole and landed in fourth place at 10-under.
A string of clutch putts by Labritz kept the drama to a minimum.
“I’ve been on the other side of that situation, where I knock the ball in there stiff and have a hard time getting it in the hole,” he said. “It feels really good to putt like that.”
Ballo looked almost stunned when Labritz two-putted from 40 feet across the green to save par at the 15th hole.
“That was a phenomenal two-putt and just shows how big local knowledge is,” the Stamford resident said. “I made a really good two-putt (for birdie) from where I was, but Rob had the correct speed and knew the putt was going to hook at the end and played it perfectly.”
A reception was held on the GlenArbor patio following play. Westchester County executive Rob Astorino stopped by on the way to the Beach Boys concert to present a proclamation in celebration of the Westchester Golf Association’s 100th anniversary.