Jimmy Hazen has collected some good scores and a lot of interesting stamps on his passport this year, having made cuts in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Still, there is something special about playing on Long Island.
He is home from the first phase of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica season, and right at home holding the trophy that allows him to claim the title as the Island’s best golfer. Hazen, the Miller Place resident who still has eyes on making the big PGA Tour, was the only one who broke par over three rounds at Garden City Country Club. With his 2-under-par total, and a sturdy effort in unusually strong winds Thursday, he won the Long Island Open for the second time in three years.
“I was fortunate. Panama and a lot of places were very, very windy. So I guess I had a lot of practice,” he said after having shot 1-over-par 71 in the final round Thursday afternoon, when no one broke par.
Hazen, 34, never flinched or faltered in the gusts, especially on the club’s slick greens, where it was easy to get distracted. The experience he gained in playing on one of the PGA Tour’s feeder circuits definitely helped. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “There are a lot of American guys out there, a lot of guys from the Met Section. You run with the people you know and you meet some really good new people. The only big problem is the language barrier.”
So, does he speak any Spanish? “A little. Taquito,” he said, using the slang that he picked up.
His confidence also was bolstered by solid ball-striking in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier Monday at Canoe Brook in Summit, New Jersey. He didn’t qualify, he said, because his putting was as poor as it could have been. He changed putters before the first round of the Long Island Open Tuesday and practiced a lot. That paid off Thursday when he made birdie three on the fourth hole, drawing even with second-round leader Anthony Aruta of North Shore Country Club, this year’s Long Island PGA champion.
Later, Hazen made 10-foot putts for par and birdie on Nos. 11 and 14 that allowed him to gain a five-shot triumph over runnerup Colin Corrigan of Friar’s Head.
To be sure, there were other highlights. Mark Mielke and Tim Rosenhouse each shot par Thursday. Matt Dobyns and Brian McArdle each had a hole-in-one. But no one was as solid as Hazen.
“I feel like I can play at the highest level,” he said. “I just need to be more consistent with my putting and my pitching. I feel like I’m good enough when I play well.”
Playing well Thursday was extra special, with his family and girlfriend there to watch. He said, “It’s good to be home.”