Team WPGA falls short of sixth straight Palmer Cup
By Mike Dudurich • September 20, 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.
LATROBE – Arnold Palmer would have loved what took place on his Latrobe Country Club course Thursday afternoon.
The late golf icon made a reputation for putting together thrilling comebacks during his illustrious PGA Tour career. And for the second straight year, a charge from behind proved to be the difference in the annual Palmer Cup matches.
After falling behind, 4-1 in the morning Four-Ball portion of the event, the team of Tri-State Section PGA professionals roared back in the afternoon singles matches to beat the team of amateurs from the West Penn Golf Association, 9 ½-7 ½.
“This kind of thing happens in this event,” said Sean Knapp, one of the long-time stalwarts of the WPGA team. “It happened the other way around last year.”
Indeed, the amateurs won the first matches of the afternoon in 2018 to win their fifth straight Palmer Cup.
On a bright, fall-like day that served to accentuate Palmer’s presence over the competition, the four-ball matches were moved to the morning and the singles to the afternoon. That move allowed set up the possibility of a tense finish and that goal was accomplished.
“They kicked our butts in the morning,” Oakmont Country Club professional Devin Gee said. “What happened between this morning and this afternoon? I don’t know, I just think we played better. Made some putts that we didn’t make in the morning.”
Winners for the WPGA in the singles matches were Darin Kowalski (4 & 3 over Daniel Rodgers); David Brown (2-up over Joe Boros). Salvaging half-points were Rick Stimmel (with Tony Traci) and Kevin Koerbel (with Gene Walter).
And while there were some close matches, there was no doubt who the dominant team was in the afternoon.
“I think them having come back on us the way they did last year left a bad taste in our mouth,” said Sunnehanna Country Club professional Jason Martin. “I got off to a fast start (against Brett Young), going three up after four holes and but he didn’t quit. I tried to keep the pedal down, keep hitting quality shots.”
Martin eventually won his match, 1-up, and it’s a victory he’ll remember for a long time.
“This was a little emotional for me because this is the last one I’ll be a part of,” Martin, who’ll be leaving Sunnehanna, to become the head golf professional at the Old Collier Golf Club in Naples, Fla. “I’ll tell you what, I think I was more nervous today than in any of the club pro championships I’ve played in.”
Knapp was speaking for himself but could have been speaking for the WPGA team as a whole.
“It’s hard to put the ball where you want, hard to be aggressive from the rough,” he said. “There was a stretch of holes out there where I lost five of six holes, four of them to pars. They just played better in the afternoon.”
Another great competition that always seems to be full of surprises.
Just the way the King would have wanted it.
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.