Short games, putting pay off for WPIAL champions
Hempfield senior Janista Numpho-Frank and Jefferson-Morgan sophomore Gillian Alexander never dreamed they'd win WPIAL golf titles Monday. But they did.
The duo won the WPIAL Class AAA and Class AA titles, respectively, at 3 Lakes Golf Course in Penn Hills, and they cited their short games and putting as the keys.
Numpho-Frank is the second girl from Hempfield to win a WPIAL Class AAA title. Katie Miller, a three-time PIAA champion, won her only title in 2002.
Numpho-Frank used a strong start — even par on the front — and finished with a 4-over par 76.
This came more than a year after her doctor told her that her golf career might be over after she broke her right wrist in a vehicle accident in March 2011.
“I guess I proved him wrong,” Numpho-Frank said. “I was just hoping I could play again. I wasn't worried about competing. Things worked out.
“I finally achieved my goal after four years. I was surprised because the last group had posted good scores at the qualifier. I figured they'd play better than me. I did a lot of praying.”
She said praying helped calm her nerves while waiting out a 1 1⁄2-hour fog delay.
Numpho-Frank had a bogey on No. 4 and a birdie on No. 8 during her front nine. She had two bogeys and a double bogey on the back nine, but was still able to hold off a late charging Lauren Waller of Canon-McMillan.
Waller, who finished with a 78, started slowly. She had a 44 on the front nine but got hot and shot a 2-under 34 on the back.
“The front nine definitely got me,” Waller said. “I had a couple three-putts, and I didn't hit some shots. I held my own on the back nine, so I was proud of that.”
Waller said the delay wasn't the reason for her slow start. It was her swing.
“I focused more on the back nine,” Waller said. “I concentrated more on my putting and making good contact.”
Waller spent the weekend in Harrisonburg, Va., where she won the Peggy Kirk Bell Tour Mid-Atlantic Invitational.
Penn-Trafford senior Haley Borkovich was among the seven girls in Class AAA to qualify for the PIAA Western finals Oct. 15 at Tom's Run Golf Course at Chestnut Ridge Resort in Blairsville. She tied for fifth with Gateway freshman Johnna Beehner (84).
Also qualifying were North Allegheny senior Lizzie Hammell (80), Shady Side Academy senior Shannon Gramley (83) and North Allegheny freshman Megan Leto (86).
Alexander is the third consecutive golfer from Greene County to win the Class AA title. Emily Rohanna of Waynesburg won the last two titles. Alexander shot a 6-over par 78.
Central Valley junior Macky Fouse was second with an 80.
Also advancing were Central Valley freshman Maddy McDaniel (86), Freeport freshman Audrey Clawson (87), Beaver senior Abbie Helbling (94), Central Valley junior Marissa Suder (95), Derry junior Sydney Syster (99) and Frazier senior Andrea Lash (99).
“I'm very surprised that I won,” Alexander said. “I was very nervous, and I didn't have any birdies. I was hoping to shoot in the low 80s. But I was able to judge the speed of the greens.”
Alexander also credited her strong putting. She had no three-putts and didn't get into much trouble.
Alexander said her mindset was on the course, not her opponents.
“My goal is to finish in the top five at the Western finals and advance to states,” Alexander said.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 723-836-5095.