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West Penn Open anecdote, Brothers Championship approaching: From the desk of Mike Dudurich
Sitting behind the ninth green watching players come through, a golf cart pulled up next to mine, driven by an older gentleman.
"I played in this 70 years ago," the gentleman said.
That obviously piqued my interest and I went over to his cart and introduced myself. I found out he was Bill Kramer, a St. Clair CC member who won the club championship there 16 times.
Kramer is 94 and said he enjoyed watch today's young players perform.
"I played against Arnold Palmer in the West Penn Am in the semifinals and he beat me," Kramer said with a smile. "That was the year he won the U.S. Amateur (1954)."
Kramer is a legend at SCCC and it was great to see him out there watching. (more)
Van Sickle wins second West Penn Open by four shots
EXPORT - He’s no longer the fresh-faced youngster with the big smile and the big game.
He’s now a 28-year-old with an even bigger game, the same big smile and a much more mature attitude.
And the latter played a big role in Mike Van Sickle becoming a two-time West Penn Open champion Wednesday afternoon at Westmoreland Country Club in Export.
Van Sickle won the 111th playing of the event by four shots, but led by as many as six at one point in the final round. He blew by Butler Country Club professional Rob McClellan by making birdies on the fifth, sixth and seventh and, despite three-putt bogeys on the 17th and 18th holes, Van Sickle won comfortably.
“This place has beaten me up and taken my lunch money in the past,” Van Sickle said. “The course got its share of punches in, but I felt like I held my own.”
It was an unusual week for Van Sickle, who played in the PGA Tour Canada’s Mackenzie Tour’s Staal Foundation Open last weekend. He flew from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Toronto and then took turns driving with his mom, Betsy, to get back to western Pennsylvania in time to tee it up Monday morning.
"It shows what I think of the West Penn Open," Van Sickle said. ìIt means a lot to me. "Sleep-deprived and travel-weary, Van Sickle went out and put up a four-under par 67 on the scoreboard and went about the process of making his way around the tricky Westmoreland CC layout in a calculating way." (more)
West Penn Open Championship starts, Palmer at the Open Championship: From the desk of Mike Dudurich
The 144th British Open Championship hasn’t quite determined its Champion Golfer of the Year on the hallowed ground of the Old Course at St. Andrews.
And it’s time for the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association to name its 111th Open Champion, and that will take place at Westmoreland Country Club in Export Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
A field of 78 - 30 pros and 48 amateurs - will play the first two days, with a cut to follow Tuesday’s second round to the low 32 and ties. The 2015 Open is the first in the history of the event to be played over three days.
The pros will play for a purse in excess of $30,000.
Westmoreland Country Club has been the site of five previous Opens, which were won by John Birmingham in 1972, John Baker in 1991, John C. Jones III in 1994, Steve Wheatcroft in 2007 and Dan Thompson in 2009.
Perhaps the most prominent winner of the West Penn Open was Jock Hutchinson. Born in Scotland, Hutchinson’s family moved to the United States in the early 1900s and he worked at Allegheny Country Club.
He was a really good player, not only winning five West Penn Opens, but more importantly, he won two major championships: the 1920 PGA Championship and the British Open Championship at St. Andrews in 1921. The latter was the first by a U.S. based player. (more)
T-8 at John Deer Classic moves Wheatcroft back into top 100
After beginning the 2014-15 PGA Tour season with a strong start that included making 75% of the 36-hole cuts, Washington, PA,’s Steve Wheatcroft had a difficult June, missing cuts and not qualifying for the US Open.
Wheatcroft rallied at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, last week. His final round 65 added to 67-66-70 and resulted in a tie for 8th place. Wheatcroft moved from 114th on the PGA Tour money list to 97th with just over $800,000 in winnings. The top 125 retain their cards for the upcoming season. (more)
Weather complicating championship season, Li and Smith claim victories: From the desk of Mike Dudurich
It's been said desperate times call for desperate measures.
Matt Rusinko, the West Penn Golf Association's Championship Director, knows about the concept and the reality of that saying.
Last week Rusinko had to set up Quicksilver Golf Course in Midway for the U.S. Amateur Sectional Qualifier from which two players would advance to the U.S. Amateur next month.
The course had been hit with 15 inches of rain in the previous 30 days and then took another two and a half inches the night before the qualifying round.
When he got to the course the morning of, he invoked the desperate times thing.
"There were lakes out there that weren't really lakes," Rusinko said. "Fifty percent or more of the course was casual water, but it was playable. That's when I knew I had to be very creative with the setup."
What that entailed was: Playing nine holes all the way back; using a ladies tee, four white tees and two senior tees; moving the tee on the seventh hole, a par five, into the fairway, reducing the hole from 600 to 400 yards; using the white tee of hole #11 for play on the 18th hole, adding another 35 yards to the hole and playing the 11th as a 125-yard hole, typically a 190 yard hole. (more)
Jason Li claims 95th West Penn Junior Championship
BUTLER - There was plenty of talent in the field of the 95th West Penn Junior Championship at Butler Country Club.
And in a championship like this, the winner is normally the player who has had big tournament experience and has won a big event.
Say hello to Jason Li.
The 16-year-old, a member of Diamond Run Golf Club, posted rounds of 74-75 to win by a shot over Mark Goetz of Greensburg and by two over Brady Pevarnik of Latrobe.
This is Li's third WPGA championship. He won the West Penn Boys Championship (13 and Younger Division) at Hill Crest Country Club in 2012 and the 2014 Boys Championship in 2014 by five shots with a 68 at Montour Heights Country Club.
Li will be a junior at Sewickley Academy in a couple months and when he starts playing high school golf, he'll do so as the defending PIAA Class AA individual champion. (more)