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
There’s going to be an interesting tournament being played for the 115th time right here in Western Pennsylvania next today and tomorrow. The Western Pennsylvania Amateur Championship will be contested at St. Clair Country Club for the first time since 1945. The field of 78 players will play 36 holes on Monday with the field being cut to 32 for the final 18 holes on Tuesday.
Seven-time winner Sean Knapp leads the field that includes three-time winner David Brown, who’ll be competing on his home course. Last year’s runner-up Arnie Cutrell, who won the 1990 West Penn Open and three West Penn Mid-Ams will play as well.
Trent Karlik, the 2014 champion, isn’t in the field because of scheduling issues and Nathan Smith, who won the Amateur four straight years from 2007-10, will miss because he’ll be playing in the U.S. Open Sectional.
Other notables include: Tim Bowers, who won the WPGA Public Links championship earlier this year; Darren Kowalski, the 2013 Mid-Amateur champion; Greg Podufal, the 2012 Amateur champion; and Rick Stimmel, who won the 1997 Amateur and the 2002 West Penn Open.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve certainly enjoyed the early discussion about Chambers Bay and the U.S. Open. This year’s Open will be held in the Northwest for the first time ever and will also be held on a true links course for the first time. That last tidbit seems to bother some folks, as exhibited by the gentleman who called my radio show last week during a break and beat on the ears of my producer about how the “Open of the United States” should not be contested on a links course.
Even more interesting is what has transpired since Mike Davis, the executive director of the USGA, said the following at U.S. Open media day in April: “I would contend that there is no way, no way, a player would have success here at Chambers Bay unless he really studies the golf course and learns it. The idea of coming in and playing two practice rounds and having your caddie just walk it and using your yardage book, that person’s done. Will not win the U.S. Open.”
Webb Simpson sarcastically said “We’ll play for second.” Rory McIlroy inquired as to what Davis’ handicap was. And, of course, Ian Poulter, made critical comments as he did mostly all the time. Phil Mickelson said Chambers Bay was not a U.S. Open venue, rather it was very much like a British Open site. The most elite players in the game are a very proud, but finicky, group. They get their feathers ruffled easily and don’t like having their golfing manhood questioned.
Davis came back to clarify that he wasn’t telling players what to do but rather to emphasize how important he believed preparation was going to be for this Open.
It’s going to be a very interesting championship, no doubt.
Doc Giffin, Arnold Palmerís administrative assistant for 49 years, was feted Wednesday as the 2015 Memorial Tournament Journalism Honor in Dublin, Ohio.
Giffin began his career at the Pittsburgh Press and was also a wire service reporter before joining the PGA Tour as press secretary. That position led to Palmer and the rest is history.
Giffin, by the way, will be inducted into the West Penn Golf Association Hall of Fame October 14 at Chartiers Country Club.
A pair of Western Pennsylvania golfers won the Super-Senior Division of the 23rd Pennsylvania Senior Four-Ball Championship at the Country Club of York. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort’s Joe Ruby and Hannastown Golf Club’s Mike McGuire posted a 3-under par 69 to win the title. It was the second consecutive win for the team, which finished on top last year at Mystic Rock at Nemacolin.
Ruby and McGuire became only the second team to repeat as Super-Senior champions.