James Nicholas, who turned pro after an award-laden Ivy League golf career, won the 2020 New York State Open at Bethpage Black. His six-under-par 207 total was two strokes better than Jason Caron of the Mill River Club and Josh Goldenberg from Atlantic.
Nicholas took a big step toward the title when he eagled the 605-yard par five 13th hole during the final round, draining an 8-ft. uphill putt to tie for the lead, then cemented it with birdies on two of the toughest par fours on the course, the 15th and 16th , and bookended them by pars on the 14th and 17th holes to give him five threes in a row on his scorecard. Eagles aside, Nicholas capitalized on his precise iron game to play the tough par threes on the Black at two under for the tournament.
The Yale grad turned pro in 2019 and earned Korn Ferry Tour status by advancing to the Final Stage of Q-School this year. His performance gave him limited status but playing opportunities have been fewer than usual due to Covid-19 tournament cancellations and PGA Tour players taking place in some Korn Ferry Tour fields. He’s been able to play in eight Tour events so far and made four cuts.
Nicholas, who plays out of Westchester Country Club, was Ivy League Player of the Year in both 2018 and 2019 and the MGA Player of the Year in 2017.