Rachel Rohanna’s first professional win: From the desk of Mike Dudurich

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

Carol Semple Thompson is an absolute icon in the world of women’s amateur golf, the queen if you will.

Missie Berteotti played on the LPGA Tour for 14 years, won a tournament and earned over $1 million.

And while one win on the Symetra Tour doesn’t put Rachel Rohanna into the class of those two great players, it marks her as western Pennsylvania’s next possibility as a female star.

The Waynesburg native picked up the first win of her young professional career Sunday, hanging on to shoot a final-round two-over par 74 in the Guardian Retirement Championship. The event was held in Sarasota at the Sara Bay Country Club, a Donald Ross design.

“When the last putt went in everything drained from my body,” Rohanna said. “I looked at (playing partner) Cydney (Clanton) and she said ‘congrats’ and then it kind of started to sink in. I think I’ll be able to take this experience into other tournaments. I remember getting some of my first junior wins and amateur wins and those gave me so much confidence and now to finally say I have a professional win is just awesome.”

The 24-year-old graduate of Ohio State had a nice amateur career. She was a PIAA co-champion as a freshman in 2005 and won outright as a junior in 2007. She won a pair of WPIAL titles as well as a runner-up finish.

As a Buckeye, she was first-team All-Big Ten twice and a four-year starter. She won a tournament, finished in the top-five seven times and led OSU to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and was an Academic All-American twice.

In 2010, Rohanna established a scoring record in the U.S. Women’s Amateur by posting a 65 at Charlotte Country Club. Bottom line: she can play.

“I really believe I learned a lot from my experiences as an amateur, just like getting this win was a learning experience,” she said.

As Rohanna has matured and improved as a player, she has undergone some changes in her personal life, too. In July of 2013, she married Ethan Virgili and the newlyweds are building a home on a farm in Greene County.

Relative to that, Rohanna’s first-place check was $16,500, which moved her to fourth on the Symetra money list. The top-10 finishers earn LPGA cards for 2016.

But she’s not worried about 2016 right now. She does have at least one plan for the biggest check she’s ever won playing golf. “I’ve got my eye on a new heifer so I might be getting a new cow soon,” she said.

* * *

In case you missed it, Rohanna’s cousin, Robert, made it to the next-to-last show of the latest edition of Golf Channel’s Big Break before being eliminated.

He played extremely well throughout the show, but a couple bad swings doomed him on the pentultimate show.

Rohanna is nursing a stress fracture in his thumb and hasní’t played since the end of last year but hopes to be back in action next month.

A tip of the hat is also given to Steve Wheatcroft, the Washington, Pa. native who had a good week in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He finished in a tie for 12th, thanks to a final-round 65 that moved him 21 spots up the leaderboard.

That performance earned him $115,920, pushing him to $619,148 and 87th on the PGA Tour money list. Wheatcroft would really like to play well enough to keep his card and put a few good years together of playing against the best players in the world.

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To foster, promote and advance the interests and the true spirit of the game of golf throughout Western Pennsylvania.
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