Matt Dobyns never will catch anyone by surprise again. True, the Deepdale Golf Club assistant pro did speed past the pack to win the Long Island Open last month before the pack knew what had hit it. Now he is front and center, especially when he shoots 66 on Bethpage Black, which he did Tuesday in the first round of the New York State Open.
Dobyns and Rob Labritz, the director of golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in Westchester and a former State Open champion, each shot 5 under par, leaving observers more impressed than stunned.
That is testimony to how fellow pros see both Labritz, who made the cut at the 2010 PGA Championship, and Dobyns, who has emerged as an elite player. His boss, Darrell Kestner, said that Dobyns last week set the Deepdale course record with a 63.
"It was a rainy morning and then it cleared up. We figured there's nobody here, why don't we go out and play a quick 18," said Dobyns, who played that day with a fellow assistant. "We played in about 2 hours, 20 minutes and zipped around."
The round at Bethpage yesterday wasn't as quick, but it was nearly as efficient, as he came within two strokes of the course record held by Craig Thomas, Mike Weir and Lucas Glover (the latter on the way to winning the 2009 U.S. Open). "I'd like to attribute it to natural progression," Dobyns said. "I've had success here, I've played good rounds here. It's just a matter of putting all the pieces together and understanding how to do it. It's not easy."
Labritz actually missed a few makable putts, but he wasn't complaining. He hit nearly all of the fairways and greens. "All in all, when you shoot 5 under par on this course, you're happy," the 2008 State Open champion said.
In an eventful first day, Andrew Giuliani eagled the first hole from the fairway and Long Island amateurs Dylan Hom and Brad Rock shot 1-under par 70.