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Nicolas Milito wins Westmoreland County Amateur

| Sunday, July 14, 2013, 9:36 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Nicolas Milito tees off during the Westmoreland County Amateur on Sunday, July 14, 2013, at Hannastown Golf Club near Greensburg.

No one would blame Nicolas Milito for dropping the trophy at the Westmoreland County Amateur golf tournament.

In fact, Milito brushed off the butterfingers move during the awards presentation Sunday at Hannastown Golf Club, chalking it up to an emotional weekend that saw him emerge with a 5-shot victory. His two-day total of 3-under-par 137 gave him his third title in four years at the annual event.

“I want to dedicate this win to my little brother. I miss him a lot, and I wish he were here to enjoy this,” Milito said referring to Anthony Milito, who died in a motorcycle accident in September.

Nicolas Milito fought off tears as he talked about his 21-year-old sibling, who lost control of his cycle on Armbrust Brinkerton Road in Mt. Pleasant and crashed into a stopped car just beyond the crest of a hill.

“This was an emotional tournament for all of us,” Nicolas Milito said as his mother, father and stepmother looked on. “You just had to keep playing steady, keep your wits about you. Fortunately, that's what I did.”

In June, Milito's family led a fundraising campaign spearheaded by Deborah Milito — the mother of Nicolas and Anthony — that netted $2,000 to replace an aging aviary at Wildlife Works in Youngwood, where Anthony Milito had been serving as a volunteer.

In the moments after watching Nicolas Milito's latest victory, Deborah Milito expressed joy, saying she was proud of his accomplishments.

“He's worked very hard to get to this point,” she said.

Milito was paired with his cousins Ronald and David DeNunzio for the final round after the trio on Saturday finished just one stroke apart atop the first-round leaderboard. All three golfers had a family attachment to the late Anthony Milito.

“Nic was very emotional at times, but you really couldn't tell,” said Ronald DeNunzio, who shot a final-round 72 to finish in second place at 2-over 142. “He played great, and he deserved this win.”

Milito, who began Sunday tied with David DeNunzio at 1-under 69, pulled away on the front nine by birdieing the final two holes to take a four-shot lead into the homestretch. From there, he birdied No. 10 — his third in a row — before bogeying No. 11 then finishing with seven consecutive pars.

Ronald DeNunzio followed his first-round 70 with the 72 on Sunday, finishing one stroke ahead of Alex Angelone, whose two-day total was 143.

Defending champion Arnold Cutrell, who prevented Milito from claiming his third consecutive championship in the 2012 tournament at Greensburg Country Club, wound up fourth this year after a pair of 72s.

Meantime, David DeNunzio couldn't keep up his torrid first-round pace, drifting back in the pack and finishing in a four-way tie for eighth at 147 after ballooning to 78 on Sunday.

Still, Milito and the DeNunzio brothers cherished their time together on a scorching day.

“We're very comfortable playing with each other,” Milito said. “We play together almost every day.”

But in a tournament of this stature under such emotional strain, Milito was especially thankful for the family atmosphere that enveloped each hole.

“Obviously, playing with Ron and David was a bonus,” he said. “We've been wanting to do it for awhile.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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