By Mike Dudurich, Freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich
Tim Bowers won his first Western Pennsylvania Golf Association title by shooting a blistering 65 in the opening 18 and experiencing every known golf emotion in a second-round 70 that allowed him to win the West Penn Amateur Public Links Championship over Easton Renwick of DuBois.
“Cranberry Highlands is a course I’m familiar with, having played it a couple times,” Bowers said. “That day I was able to keep everything in front of me. My big deal was minimizing mistakes, being aware of where the trouble was, knowing where to miss it.”
The 40-year-old from McMurray is a born-again amateur, having turned pro a half-dozen years ago and working as a club pro in Virginia. He was reinstated by the USGA and has been enjoying life as an amateur again.
Bowers put up a five birdie, no-bogey round in the first round and took a three-shot advantage into the second. A common theme throughout the day was a red-hot putter. He needed just 25 putts in the first round, 29 in the second.
“Fifty-four for the day is pretty good,” he laughed.
After no bogeys in the first round, he bogeyed his first in the afternoon, the 10th at Cranberry Highlands. He quickly responded with a pair of birdies, but followed that up with two bogeys.
“I absolutely knew who was behind me and what they were capable of,” Bowers said. “Easton was playing well. Chad Warmbein was right there and Sean Knapp and Erik Bertrand were, too. I just told myself I had to keep playing because I knew what those guys were capable of.”
Bowers said he hadn’t been in the position to contend in 10 or 15 years and tried to just play one shot at a time.
“I two-putted from 80 or 90 feet on one hole on the back,” he said. “I also hit approach shots inside 12 feet and left each one of those right in the heart, but short. Yes, I was thinking about winning, I’m not going to lie. It was a great learning experience.”
Bowers followed up that win by competing in the Pennsylvania Golf Association 75th G. Dressler Public Links Championship. He opened with a 73, but struggled to an 82 in the second round to finish T20.
“Just one of those days,” he said.
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As golf season gets going, golfers might want to exercise a bit of patience with the superintendent at their local course.
It was a tough winter in general and golf courses weren’t exempt.
“This winter was more severe than most and the damage was more severe,” said Ken Flisek, the only superintendent ever at The Club at Nevillewood. “This year, it was ice. The worst time to have ice is at the end of the winter. February and March were so much colder than normal and that led to significant damage on greens.”
Flisek is the chairman of the Green Committee for the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association and said the best advice he can give golfers is to be patient.
“We as superintendents have to remind people that golf is an outdoor sport, even though we all know that,” he laughed. “We didn’t create these problems, we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. It may take a few more weeks for things to get better.”
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How about the team of Nathan Smith and Todd White in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco?
They tied for eighth in stroke play qualifying with rounds of 69 and 66 and have been very solid as the inaugural event made its way through the quarterfinals. They posted victories of 5 & 3, 2 & 1, and 3 & 2 to get to this morning’s semifinals.
Not too bad for a couple mid-Ams who are generally facing youngsters with a definite age advantage.
The team of Will Betts and Evan Russell got off to a good start, shooting a 67 in the first qualifying round, but could do no better than a 73 in the second round and missed the cut.
While the men wrap up their event today, the women will be just getting started at the Bandon Dunes Resort in Bandon, Ore. Representing Western Pennsylvania will be Katie Miller from Jeannette. She’ll be paired with Amber Marsh Elliott.
They got the third tee time of the first day of qualifying.
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The first of two U.S. Open local qualifiers will be held tomorrow at Indiana Country Club. Seventy-eight players will tee it up in search of one of four spots in the sectional round of qualifying. Mike VanSickle and Kevin Shields headline the field.
Next Wednesday, at Willowbrook Country Club in Apollo, 43 hopefuls will play for two spots in the sectional round of qualifying.
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The funniest guy in televised golf is coming to Pittsburgh.
David Feherty, who hosts Feherty on the Golf Channel and strolls the fairways during CBS-televised events, is doing a series of shows in the United States and Canada.
David Feherty – Live OffTour with be at the Byham Theater Friday, June 5 at 8 p.m.
Tickets for the evening of laughter are available in person at the Byham Theater Box Office, by phone at 412-456-6666, and online.