Championship season off and running

Area golf’s individual championship and qualifying season will kick off with the 21st West Penn Spring Stroke Play Championship at Nemacolin Woodlands followed by a pair of U.S. Open Local Qualifying rounds to be held in Hollidaysburg and McMurray.

Spring Stroke Play will be held Tuesday, May 6 at Nemacolin Woodlands Mystic Rock course. The field is 78 amateurs with over 20 players who have won regional, state and national individual golf titles. The field includes reigning champion and four time winner of the U.S. Mid Amateur, Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, as well as 34 time USGA Championship qualifier, Sean Knapp, Oakmont. Also in the field is current PA State High School Champion, Grant Engel and 2013 West Penn Amateur Champion, David Brown, both Engel and Brown hail from Upper St. Clair.

Entries in the US Open Locals conducted by the WPGA reflect the growth in the overall number of entries nationwide, over 10,000 for the first time.

At Scotch Valley CC in Hollidaysburg, near Altoona, 47 contestants, 25 amateurs and 22 professionals, will compete for three qualifying positions on Wednesday, May 7. The field includes eight players who have advanced through previous Locals. Jon Mills, Indiana, PA, is the only player in the field to qualify for a U.S. Open, making it to Oakmont in 2007. Most contestants have selected Sectionals in Columbus, Ohio, Purchase, NY, or Rockville, MD, if they advance. Scotch Valley has hosted several Open Locals in the past twenty years. The course will play as par-71 just over 6,900 yards. A few holes have been lengthened since their last Local, making the course about 250 yards longer.

On the following Wednesday, May 14, at Valley Brook CC in McMurray, 78 players, 50 amateurs and 28 professionals, will play for four qualifying positions. A dozen contestants have previously advanced through Locals, and three players have qualified for the U.S. Open proper – two with Oakmont Country Club connections, Bob Ford and Bob Friend, plus reinstated amateur Rick Stimmel. Like the Scotch Valley field, most players will progress to Columbus, Purchase, or Rockville, if they advance. Valley Brook will play as a par-72 at around 7,000 yards.

The total number of entries locally at 125 is the highest in recent years, due to increased numbers of amateurs making the attempt.

The US Open is scheduled for June 12-15 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, on the famed #2 course, Village of Pinehurst, NC.

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