Gee holes final two putts to win West Penn Open Championship

Posted July 22, 2016 - By Mike Dudurich, Freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich

Devin Gee presented the Millholland Vase by WPGA Vice President, Mark Caliendo

Devin Gee won a big golf tournament Wednesday and, in the process, took a major step.

The second-year head golf professional at Oakmont Country Club survived a chaotic finish to win the 112th West Penn Open Championship at Longue Vue Club.

After Gee rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th to finish at two-under par, he waited for Waynesburg’s Robert Rohanna, who was also two-under as he stepped onto the 17 tee, to complete his round.

Rohanna proceeded to bogey the 17th and triple-bogey the 18th, a disastrous finish that allowed Gee to join Emil Loeffler Jr., Lew Worsham and Bob Ford as Oakmont professionals whose names are on the Harry Millholland Vase.

“It is special and means a lot,” Gee, who earned $6,800 with the win, said. “It’s great to be on that trophy will Bob and the others and it’s great to win it at one of our neighboring clubs.”

Gee’s victory capped off a big couple of months for Oakmont and the 30-year-old pro. In June, the attention of the golf world was focused on Oakmont as it hosted its ninth U.S. Open. It was Gee’s first in the role as host professional and now he’s captured one of the area’s major titles.

“This is by far the biggest event he’s ever won,” Ford, now the director of golf at Oakmont, said. “To get his name on that trophy forever is really special. Devin is a hard-working club pro. He’s out there battling against mini-tour players who practice and play every day. I give him a lot of credit.”

Gee was consistent throughout the 54-hole event, making 11 birdies, seven bogeys and one double bogey on a course that was hard and fast, with extremely quick greens and trouble lurking everywhere.

“I was most proud of how patient I was,” he said, giving credit in that regard to his caddy and girlfriend, Katie Miller, of Jeannette. “She helped with the patience part. This is the first event I’ve won where I got in and had to wait. That’s better than having to play 17 and 18 again.”

Rohanna can talk about having to do that. His bogey at 17 put the possibility of a playoff on the board, but he could have taken care of things himself had he played the 18th well. His drive missed into the left rough on the 471-yard rollercoaster par four. He had 175 yards left and hit an 8-iron that he expected to land near the front of the green and roll to the back pin. Instead, the ball landed near the back of the green, took a big hop and landed beyond the putting surface out of bounds.

That boundary is not far past the green and has no doubt ruined many rounds over the years in club events at Longue Vue. But Rohanna knew of the danger back and had no intention of getting anywhere near it.

“When I looked at that ball at 18, I didn’t think it was a flier, but obviously it was,” Rohanna said. “I hit it perfectly, right in the center of the clubface, but never thought it would go that far. I played great all week, just didn’t make enough putts. I had trouble with the speed of the greens.”

Rohanna hit a second ball that also bounced over the green, but held up before going out of bounds.

“I feel bad for Robert,” Gee said in the immediate aftermath. “I mean we’ve all done that. Hate to see anyone finish like that. But it was a little bit of a sense of relief, I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been in his shoes before. Obviously he played great all week so I hate to see it end on one shot like that but, thankfully, I don’t have to go into a playoff.”

McKees Rocks resident Mike Van Sickle started the final round as the leader at three under par. But a balky putter hijacked his chances at winning a third Open title and he finished second, two shots behind Gee.

“Two four-putts,” he muttered to himself after shooting 73 and finish at even-par.

“I’m really proud of myself that I didn’t break my putter after the 15th,” he said. “I was really frustrated after missing a pair of four-footers and making a 6 on a par five. I’ve been fighting my swing a lot this year and have been working hard to get it back, but I still have work to do.

“As much as I would have loved to win, I kind of need to move on and figure out what the next step is to improving what went wrong today because if I can’t, then I can’t do this.”

The only under par rounds on Wednesday were by Greensburg’s Kevin Fajt (67) and Gee’s 68.