Pevarnik wins C.R. Miller Match Play Invitational

Posted August 8, 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

The final match of the C.R. Miller on the #11th green at Sunnehanna Country Club

Getting a spot in the C.R. Miller Invitational is a big deal for young golfers in Western Pennsylvania.

As its’ name suggests, the event is by invitation only and is limited to 16 players.

It is also match play, a format not often played by players at any level.

The 2016 edition of the event, which debuted in 1974, proved to be a grind with hot, humid weather combining with a difficult Sunnehanna Country Club course that had hosted the Sunnehanna Amateur just over a month prior.

The event came down to a final matchup of Brady Pevarnik of Latrobe and Tanner Johnson of Venetia. It was Johnson’s second appearance, Pevarnik’s first.

As he had done in his second and third matches, Pevarnik got off to a slow start falling 1-down twice in the first five holes. But he rallied, making birdies on the seventh and eighth holes and took a 1-up advantage to the back nine.

“We both played pretty well on the front, but I played better on the back,” Pevarnik said. “I think I was 3-under on the back.”

He made birdies on 11 and 12 to go 3-up and added another on the 14th to go 4-up with four holes to play. When the pair halved the 15th, the match was over, 4 & 3.

“It was a grind, it really was,” Pevarnik said. “I was soaked yesterday and decided to take a change of clothes for today. I got a shower in between the semifinals and finals and I felt refreshed in the afternoon.”

Johnson agreed with his opponent’s assessment of the two-day event.

“He didn’t give me any openings,” Johnson, whose father, Brent, is the golf professional at Southpointe Golf Club. “He didn’t make any mistakes. I’m actually pretty proud of myself. I played 60 holes of golf in that weather, 31 one day, 29 the next. It wasn’t easy.”

Johnson, the No. 8 seed, knocked off top-seeded Palmer Jackson, 1-up in the quarterfinals and then fourth-seeded Jason Li, 5 & 4 and semifinals.

Pevarnik steamrolled Michael Bell of McMurray, 6 & 5, in the round of 16. He escaped a tight match against Chris Tanabe of Pittsburgh in 19 holes in the quarters and then knocked off Mark Goetz, 3 & 2 over Mark Goetz of Greensburg in the semifinals.

“It was pretty surreal looking at that trophy and seeing the names of the great players who have won this,” he said. “Guys like Nathan Smith, Easton Renwick are on there. And then to know that next year I’ll see my name there is pretty cool.”

Pevarnik is a sophomore-to-be at Greater Latrobe High School and Johnson will be at senior at Peters Township High School in a few weeks.

Johnson is looking to continue playing golf in college and has narrowed his choices to three yet-to-be named schools.