Koerbel claims first WPGA championship
By Mike Dudurich • May 31, 2019
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.
Having placed in the top 10 of the West Penn Golf Association’s two top events last year, Kevin Koerbel proved he could compete in big events.
He validated that belief this week by posting rounds of 72-67 to win the WPGA’s Spring Stroke Play, the annual kickoff to the association’s championship season.
“I really didn’t have a lot of expectations,” Koerbel, a 29-year-old commercial banker at Citizens Bank, said. “I had a less than spectacular day in my last event. I had a video lesson with Zack Turek and things changed quite a bit.”
Indeed they did, to the tune of eight birdies, 24 pars, 3 bogeys and one double.
Koerbel made three of those birdies in his opening-round 72, but also had a double and two bogeys in the opening 18. He wasn’t all that pleased with that round but liked his second round a great deal more.
“That second round was a good as I’ve hit the ball in a long time,” Koerbel said. “The longest putt I had was 20 feet. I hit all the fairways and missed just one green. And it got pretty breezy out there in the second round so the conditions were definitely tougher.”
Often times, the winner of an event like this will point to a couple birdies or maybe an eagle as a turning point or two in the day, but not Koerbel.
“I made a 15-foot putt to save par on 14 and then made a 5 or 6-footer for bogey on 16, that really kept things going,” he said.
There was some high-quality competition not far behind Koerbel, but not all that much as players found breaking par at Green Oaks Country Club was a difficult task. Only three players – Koerbel, Jim Ellis and Mitch Mercer. And there were only six rounds under par in the final round.
Only two rounds under par were posted in the morning round when the conditions were more conducive to scoring. The average score in the first round was six over par and 6.1 in the afternoon.
Knapp, a three-time champion of the Spring Stroke Play, shot 73-69 and was bit surprised to find himself in the hunt and just three shots behind Koerbel.
“Yeah, there was me just watching Mitch and Jimmy going along and there I am,” Knapp said. “I was surprised the scores were that low because the conditions were definitely more difficult in the afternoon. Green Oaks is not long, but it’s a great testament to the greens, which protect the course very well.”
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.