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Golfers punch tickets to U.S. Open sectional qualifier

One by one, they trekked up the steep incline to the 18th green at the Quicksilver Golf Club in Midway. The 390-yard par-4 finisher doesn't look all that difficult, but it certainly plays it.

The same could be said about the entire course, which hosted a U.S. Open local qualifier Thursday. Players looking at the course think it can be had but, especially in these qualifiers, it's rarely been easy.

"I'd have to look back to see when it was that we had someone shoot in the 60s," West Penn Golf Association executive director Jeff Rivard said.

Nobody did on Thursday. Trent Karlik, a computer teacher at David E. Williams Middle School in the Montour School District and Dennis Munko, the golf professional at Birdsfoot Golf Club in Freeport, posted 1-under 71s.

With four spots in the sectional qualifier available, those rounds earned Karlik and Munko trips to the sectional in Columbus, Ohio. With four players tied at 73, however, a playoff was necessary to sort out the other two spots.

Patrick Greer, Dan Payton, Kevin Shields and David Brown went to the first tee and when they walked off the first green, Shields had been eliminated, thanks to a three-putt bogey with the first putt being no more than three feet long.

"I'm just in shock," the Bethel Park resident said. "It was downhill, and I was just trying to tap it in, but I didn't stroke it that way."

The three remaining players went to the 18th hole to continue the playoff. Greer, of Johnstown, launched his tee shot well to the right of the fairway. Brown, a longtime amateur from Upper St. Clair, and Payton, a Canadian mini-tour player from Toronto who played in a couple Hooters events at Quicksilver, found the middle of the fairway.

Greer found a greenside bunker, then blasted over the green and finished with a double bogey. All Brown and Payton had to do was make pars and they did, making it to the sectional level.

"It's fun to be competitive with the kids like I played with today," said Brown, who advances for the first time. "It will be fun to get that experience; I'm really looking forward to it."

Karlik will be making his second sectional appearance while Munko goes for the first time.

"This is really amazing," said Karlik, who like Munko, is 29 years old. "I was even par after nine holes and played a pretty good back nine. But I missed four putts that weren't any longer than my putter. This is one of those events that there's a lot of adrenaline building up because you know you only have 18 holes."

Munko came to the 17th hole at 2-under par but lost a ball in the fescue grass and stumbled to a double bogey. But he responded nicely, making birdie on the tough 18th.

"I've played on the Moonlight Tour in Orlando, and I've been playing well," Munko said. "I'm very excited."


Thursday's results

U.S. Open local qualifer

At Quicksilver Golf Club, Midway

Trent Karlik - 71

Dennis Munko - 71

Patrick Greer - 73

Dan Payton - 73

Kevin Shields - 73

David Brown - 73

Erik Bertrand - 74

Michael Turner - 74

Sean Knapp - 74

Gene Walter - 74

Nick Kirsch - 75

David DeNunzio - 75

William Miller - 75

Travis Dickson - 75

Zack Amole - 75

Paul Wackerly - 75

Rick Stimmel - 75

Joe Frustaci - 76

Douglas Mehall - 76

John Popeck - 76

Chuck Nettles - 76

Rob McClellan - 76

Brendan Borst - 76

Brian Edwards - 77

Geoff Wood - 77

John Aber - 77

Carmen Peluso - 78

Jeffrey Dyer - 78

Nicholas Milicevich - 78

Brock Pompeani - 78

Thomas Bummer Jr. - 79

Alex Angelone - 79

Steven Hale - 79

Paul Dilorento - 79

Jeffrey DiSanzo - 79

Robert Green - 79

Christopher Resnik - 80

Pete Petrides - 80

Ronald DeNunzio - 80

Brian Routhieaux - 80

Joe Boros - 80

Ryan Swierczynski - 81

John Denholm - 81

Sammy Pate - 82

Rob Hippert - 83

Ian Bangor - 83

Clayton Rask - 84

William Hug - 83

Michael Stenger - 84

Brandon Pompeani - 85

Jason Smoljanovich - 85

Chris Daily - 90

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