Long takes one-shot lead after opening round 67
By WPGA • July 24, 2017
BUTLER - Overnight rain made for some low scores in the first round of the 113th West Penn Open Championship at Butler Country Club. Additional rain, often heavy at times, fell in the middle of the round and nearly caused the Association to suspend play.
Twelve players broke par and another six finished at even-par 70. Of the 18 competitors at par or better, 14 are professionals.
Five players posted rounds of 2-under 68 earlier in the day.
And then came along McDonald resident and St. Bonaventure senior, Corey Long, who set the pace with a blistering 6-under-par 29 on the front nine. Long began his round with four consecutive birdies starting in the third-to-last grouping.
"You can't birdie them all if you don't birdie the first four," said McMurray's Chad Warmbein after looking at the live leaderboard and posting a final nine 3-under 32, bettered only by Oakmont professional and defending champion, Devin Gee, who posted 31.
Long added birdies at the 8th and 9th to set the nine-hole scoring record for the championship. He bogeyed three holes on the inward nine, and enters the second round one-shot ahead of five players.
The front nine score of 29 matches the Association record for nine-holes set by Dan Thompson, a three-time West Penn Open champion, on the back nine of the second round of the 2016 West Penn Amateur at Bedford Springs Resort, which he went on to win, in his first event as a reinstated amateur.
This was Long’s second round ever played at Butler. He played a practice round yesterday afternoon in preparation for the championship.
Valencia’s Jon Pratkanis, the 2002 West Penn Junior champion and current Butler Country Club club champion, set the pace early in the fifth grouping out with 68 that included two birdies and an eagle after holing out from the fairway on the 443 yard par-4 ninth.
“That’s a skin,” Pratkanis joked after returning his scorecard.
Other rounds of 68 followed.
Oakmont assistant Reid Howey matched that score with a round that included six birdies after getting to 5-under on the 12th hole.
Waynesburg’s Robert Rohanna got to 5-under through fifteen, but bogeyed his last three to also post 68.
John Aber, Pittsburgh, a fellow competitor of Rohanna and the 1999 West Penn Open champion, also posted 68 on four birdies and bogeys on the 6th and 7th.
The final 68 came from recent Oklahoma University graduate and Wexford resident, Beau Titsworth, who posted a steady 68 with three birdies and a bogey on the difficult 17th.
Of the six players at 2-under or better, only Long and Aber parred the 17th hole. There were 40 pars, 34 bogeys, four double-bogeys and three triple-bogeys on the 17th.
The only birdies recorded on the 17th of the 84 players who competed came from Pittsburgh’s Trent Karlik, the 2014 West Penn Amateur champion at Penn State Golf Courses, and from the final pairing of the 2017 West Penn Amateur at Sunnehanna Country Club - seven-time West Penn Amateur champion, Oakmont's Sean Knapp, and runner-up, Chuck Nettles of McMurray.
The average score for the first round was 73.5.
The lowest cut in championship history since the competition increased to 54 holes in 2012 was 145 at Westmoreland Country Club in 2015.
The second round will start at 7:15 AM tomorrow. After completion of play, the field will be cut to the low 32 competitors and ties for the final round Wednesday morning.
About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and 33,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund.