Knapp qualifies for two USGA championships, forced to choose

Posted June 28, 2012 - Western Pennsylvania Golf Association - Contact

Sean Knapp teeing off at the Spring Stroke Play Championship

PITTSBURGH - Fox Chapel Golf Club has seen an abundance of championship golf over the past two weeks. The 1923 Seth Raynor designed course was a perfect venue for the 108th PNC West Penn Open Championship. A week after hosting the 2nd major on the PGA Champions Tour circuit, the Senior Players Championship, the club had a championship atmosphere to it with perfect conditions and grandstands still remaining throughout the course. The last West Penn Open played at Fox Chapel was in 1957 when a young Arnold Palmer took some time off the PGA Tour to come home to Western Pennsylvania and claim his only West Penn Open title.

A format change to the championship included going to 54 holes and a field of 78 which included about half the field having to get in via a qualifying round. Monday brought 36 holes of competition with high temperatures, where endurance would become a factor.

Professional Dan Thompson, of Johnstown, PA, started the day by scorching the course with a morning round 64. Following Thompson in the first round was Treesdale Golf & Country Club Professional, Joe Boros with a 66, and amateur & reigning Fox Chapel GC club champ, Bennett Smith with a 68. Thompson backed up his early stellar play with a 67 in the afternoon round for a 9 under par total of 131 heading to the final round on Tuesday. Thompson tied the West Penn Open single round scoring record with his 64 and broke the 36 hole record by two strokes with his 131. His 131 put him a comfortable five strokes ahead of John Popeck (136), going into the third and final round on Tuesday.

Paired with Popeck in the final round, Thompson knew he had to play consistent and this is exactly what he did, making 15 pars in his final round. The only trouble he found in his final round was on 16 when managed to make a double bogey, 6. He finished the day with a two over par 72 for a 203 championship total. This score outlasted runner-up Bennett Smith’s 205 total for the championship. Nationwide Tour Professional Jon Mills (207) rounded out the top 3. Smith was the only player in the field to record all three rounds under par. The victory marked Dan Thompson’s third West Penn Open title in 6 years, winning in 2007 at Mystic Rock and 2009 at Westmoreland Country Club.