For the first 12 years of the Palmer Cup Matches against the Tri-State Section, PGA of America, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association had never won the Palmer Cup. Since the competition was first held at Latrobe Country Club in 1996 the Tri-State record is 15-3-1.
But the last seven years have been a different story. The WPGA’s record on this period is even with the Tri-State at 3-3-1. The teams halved in 2008.
With the WPGA down in nearly all of the afternoon matches it looked like a monumental comeback was imminent by the Tri-State. The WPGA teams of Nathan Smith and David Brown, and Perry Graciano & Doug Gradwell, won crucial points to secure no worse than a tie with 8 points.
Nine points are needed to win the Palmer Cup outright.
The Tri-State has dominated the Four-Ball matches over the years and this year was no different. The WPGA needed just two points of the seven available in the afternoon to secure a victory and take back the Palmer Cup for the first time since 2011.
Still on the course, the WPGA team of Sean Knapp and Rick Stimmel found themselves three holes down with four to play against Devin Gee and Jason Robinson. Knapp and Stimmel fought back to win three straight holes and head to the final tee all square. All four players found the fairway on the eighteenth. Gee proceeded to hit his approach to two feet for a conceded birdie. Knapp and Stimmel stared down 30 and 15 foot putts respectively to halve the match. Knapp narrowly missed his attempt and left the pressure solely on Stimmel to knock down his 15 footer and claim victory for the team. Stimmel proceeded to roll his putt in for a halve.
The final half-point secured the victory with nine points for the WPGA. The final score was 9-8.
The morning singles matches saw the WPGA team jump out to a big lead. David DeNunzio, Trent Karlik, Luke Miller, Chuck Nettles, Smith and Rick Stimmel each gained a point in their matches. Spencer Mellon gained a half in his match to put the WPGA up six-to-three heading into the afternoon Four-Ball matches.
Smith, representing the WPGA, and the Tri-State’s Ryan Sikora were the only players to win two points for their respective teams. Sikora’s front-nine score of 29 in the morning singles match was a highlight of the matches.
Stimmel delivered one-and-one-half points for WPGA.
The matches are an annual competition conducted at Latrobe Country Club between amateurs representing the WPGA on the Frank B. Fuhrer, Jr. Team against professionals from the Tri-State Section.
Arnold Palmer and Latrobe Country Club host the annual Palmer Cup Matches. Players are selected to the team based on their season performance in each association’s competitions. The format consists of ten singles matches in the morning and seven four-ball matches in the afternoon. Once a competitor for the Tri-State, Mr. Palmer now serves as honorary captain of the Tri-State team.