UPPER ST. CLAIR – Any time a golfer is able to get his name his name on a trophy that already has Arnold Palmer’s name on it five times, it’s a big deal.
That’s the kind of day Easton Renwick had Tuesday at St. Clair Country Club.
The 22-year-old from DuBois dominated the field in the 115th playing of the West Penn Amateur, going wire-to-wire and winning by five shots. It was without doubt the biggest victory of his young golf career and his performance on the very tough SCCC layout was evidence of the kind of golf the young man possesses.
It was also an historic win for Renwick because the tournament was being played at St. Clair for the first time since 1945.
“Once I got to the back nine (of his final round), I knew I had a pretty big lead and I just had to keep hitting good shots,” Renwick said.
He showed the patience necessary to play somewhat conservatively with a big lead, although not all the time.
“There were some shots out there where I leaned away from some flags,” he admitted.
He wasn’t leaning away from the flagstick on the uphill, 484-yard 14th hole. He hammered his drive 274 yards uphill and then a three-iron from 210 yards that went over the flag and settled into the back of the green.
“I actually was aiming at the pin because in the practice round I hit it over there into the bunker and it really wasn’t all that bad,” Renwick said. “No doubt it was the best shot of the tournament.”
After leading by two shots over St. Clair’s David Brown, a three-time winner of the Amateur, Renwick was never challenged. Erik Bertrand posted 73-74-70 and finished tied with Tommy Leech (73-71-73) for second, five shots behind Renwick.
Greg Podufal of Erie finished fourth and Matt Gurska of Hermitage was seven shots out of the lead in fifth place. Gurska posted the only round in the 60s Tuesday, a 69.
Renwick posted a 69 in the opening round when St. Clair was hard and fast and put up a 73 when the weather turned ugly Monday afternoon. Heavy rain pounded the course, softening it somewhat, causing a 45-minute delay in the process.
He came back to shoot 70 in the final 18 Tuesday. He finished at four-under par and was the only player under par for 54 holes. There were only four rounds posted by the field in the 60s.
“That’s great playing for the conditions we had the last day and a half,” said Brown.
“When we came back out after the delay, the course went completely 180 degrees the other way. But the speed of the greens was still pretty quick. On these big greens where they’re so fast, you got to have touch out here if you want to play well,” Renwick said.
The victory is Renwick’s fifth in a WPGA event. He won two Boys championships, two C.R. Millers and now an Amateur.
His local accomplishments helped him earn a golf scholarship to Coastal Carolina (where Dustin Johnson played in college) where he played two years. Renwick took off a year to concentrate on his newborn son, Jackson, during which he sold furniture.
Renwick then heard the call of the Mountaineers, those in Morgantown, W.Va.
“They were starting a golf team at WVU and asked if I’d be interested in going there,” he said. “They didn’t have any players and asked if I would be interested. So I transferred. It seemed like a perfect fit.”
And it has been. The team played last year, but didn’t compete in the Big 12.
Renwick, a team captain and No. 1 player, will lead WVU into Big 12 play this year.
“I can’t wait for the Big 12, I’m really excited,” he said.
For Brown, it was a pretty simple explanation.
“I made the one big mistake on three (hitting a ball into the water) and today was one of those days when no putts were dropping for me,” Brown said. “And then when you make the turn and see you’re eight shots behind, you know it’s just not going to happen.”