Titsworth claims WPGA Open Championship by three-shots
By Mike Dudurich • July 19, 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.
MCMURRAY – Kennywood Park opened a new thrill ride at its suburban Pittsburgh location recently, the Steel Curtain, a tribute to the Steelers’ awesome defensive front four of the 1970s.
Chances are there were more ups and downs Thursday in the final round of the 116th West Penn Open at Valley Brook Country Club than even the black and gold beast that soars above everything else at Kennywood Park.
After shooting a tournament record 62 in Round 2 of the Open Wednesday, Beau Titsworth showed up at Valley Brook with a three-shot lead over Penn State assistant coach T.J. Howe and a five-shot margin over Dan Obremski.
And that’s about the time the roller coaster left the station and things started happening.
Titsworth birdied the third hole to extend his lead to four strokes, but then ran into a hat trick full of trouble. He bogeyed the fourth and fifth holes to cut his lead in half.
And on the 304-yard par four seventh, the rest of that lead disappeared when Howe ripped a 3-wood off the tee and when his shot stopped moving, it was a foot from the cup. Titsworth’s par, combined with Howe’s eagle tied the two.
But Titsworth, who is a mini-tour player looking for a tour to call home, recovered to par the eighth and birdie the ninth, while Howe made par and bogey. The bogey was Howe’s first bogey of the championship to that point and it put him down by a pair of shots as they made the turn.
“That bogey at the ninth was the turning point in my mind,” Howe said.
The rollercoaster hadn’t completed its ride, however. Actually, it was just getting started.
Titsworth birdied the 11th and 12th, while Howe birdied the 11th, putting the lead back to three shots. He added birdie at the 14th but bogeyed the 17th. Howe’s quest for a win became a bit more difficult when he bogeyed the 15th but came back with clutch birdies on 16 and 17 to set up a climactic 18th.
Both players hit good drives, making the uphill par 5 reachable. And both hit those approach shots into the left greenside bunker. But that’s where the similarities ended. Titsworth’s ball found the bottom of the bunker on a nice flat lie. Howe’s shot left him with a downhill lie and virtually no chance.
Howe’s shot went well past the pin, he missed the putt to give him any chance and he finished with a bogey. Titsworth drained his four-foot birdie putt to win the title.
“That was a little more exciting than I would have liked it to be,” Titsworth said with a smile. “T.J. played great and I just didn’t have it early. There were two three-shot swings out there today. That tells you a lot about what kind of match it was.”
The West Penn Open is rich in history, that sort of thing happens when it’s played 116 times. Titsworth contributed to that on a Valley Brook course that was just about perfect.
His second-round 62 that featured 10 birdies tied a score of Jon Mills and his three-round total of 200 is a record.
Titsworth earned $7,200 for his victory.
He started there two years ago and has helped head coach Greg Nye put together a team that includes Western Pennsylvania’s Hunter Bruce, Louis Olsakovsky and Brady Pevarnik.
“Western Pennsylvania has been very good to us,” Howe admitted. “We’re looking forward to get the season started.”
Low amateur in the Open was Alec Stopperich, who finished in a tie for fourth with Tom Nettles at 10-under par.
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.