McHolme and Wrigley win first WPGA titles
By Mike Dudurich • August 1, 2018
Mike is a freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich.
Practice makes perfect has been used as a motivational saying for decades.
Reality is, however, that the perfect game or swing or pitch or play has never happened nor will it.
But you couldn’t blame Angus McHolme if that thought crossed his mind after completing his 164th and final match play hole of golf in the last five days on Tuesday.
The last 16 holes of that total came in the finals of the 45th C.R. Miller Match Play Invitational at Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier. McHolme only needed that many to eliminate Luke Minsky, 3 & 2, to capture the title.
The journey that ended in light rain at Rolling Rock began last Friday with an 18-hole practice round for the Youghiogheny Country Club Match Play Championship. That was followed by 36 holes of match play Saturday and Sunday.
It should be noted McHolme won that event, becoming a back-to-back winner in the process.
Then came Monday and Tuesday when he kept his match play groove on, polishing off four opponents in 61 holes.
“I had seen this place in May with my club pro (Zachary Turek) when he brought me up here for a fun round,” McHolme, who’ll begin his senior year at Elizabeth Forward later this month, said. “To get my first West Penn event at a place like Rolling Rock is really, really special.”
Sixteen players began the championship on a course that was in spectacular condition, although a bit of the first was taken out of it by an afternoon rain on Monday. It’s a safe bet those players won’t see conditions the rest of the summer as good as they saw at Rolling Rock.
The championship match was a struggle from the start. The two players halved nine of the 16 holes played and McHolme won five holes, Minsky two. Until McHolme made birdies on the 12th and 13th holes, there had not been a two-hole advantage.
On the hole after taking that lead, McHolme faced a 15-foot putt for par and drained it, emphasizing how he felt about it with a fist pump. Then on the clinching hole, the 204-yard, par 3 16th, he lasered a knock-down 2-iron to 20 feet behind the hole. And with Minsky having trouble getting the ball in the hole, McHolme comfortably two-putted for the win.
“The par save on 14 was big and that 2-iron was my best shot of the tournament,” he said. “I hit some really good putts on the front nine that didn’t go in but the one thing you have to have in match play is patience.”
Minsky, a 2018 graduate of North Allegheny and soon-to-be member of the Saint Francis University golf team, hung with McHolme until the wheels fell off with double bogeys on the 12th and 13th holes.
“I was in a good spot, but I just couldn’t finish on a couple holes and then it was tough,” he said.
McHolme wasn’t the only golfer to be recognized for winning a title as the rain came down much heavier not long after he had secured the win.
The West Penn Golf Association debuted the Girls’ Match Play Invitational, which featured eight girls. Two-time WPIAL champion Caroline Wrigley of North Allegheny was the dominant player of the eight, winning her first two matches 8 & 7 and 7 & 6 before getting Danae Rugola of Uniontown in the finals.
Wrigley took a two-hole advantage into the back nine, but Rugola squared the match with a pair of pars. She then took the lead with another par on 12. The girls went back and forth over the next three holes. Wrigley parred the difficult 16th to go 1-up, but Rugola birdied 17 to square the match and force a playoff.
In the heaviest of the afternoon rain, the two parred the first extra hole and Wrigley rolled in a 10-footer for the win on the second.
“This was actually my first time playing in a match play championship,” Wrigley said. “It was all new to me. I felt like I was playing differently, thinking about strategy. This is just so awesome. The history of Rolling Rock is so rich. And it’s so cool to know that my name will be the first one on the girl’s trophy.”