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Peters Township junior wins Best of the Best golf tournament

| Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 12:03 a.m.

In pursuit of a college scholarship, Tommy Nettles scored one for his high school.

The Peters Township junior shot even-par 140 over the two-day Best of the Best Golf Classic, topping a who's who field of WPIAL golfers in Monday's final round at Ligonier Country Club.

Nettles shot 3-under 67 in the first round May 14, then finished with a 73 yesterday to come in four strokes ahead of Latrobe's Will Wears in second place and five better than Evan Sommer of South Park.

All three won $500 scholarships for their high schools as part of the student portion of the 10th annual event, which is sponsored by the Westmoreland Hospital Foundation and benefits projects at non-profit Excela Health.

The good cause and friendly competition made the tournament a success for Nettles heading into the back nine of his high school golf career.

“It's good to keep playing, but once the summer starts rolling around, that's going to be big for playing in tournaments for college coaches to come and watch you,” said Nettles, who tied for second at the PIAA tournament in October. “This is kind of just kicking off the summer season.”

Forty-seven golfers from 26 high schools entered the tournament, which also held an event for 72 adult players, but only six advanced to the final round. South Fayette's Evan Lestini finished fourth (146), Peters Township's Trent McPherson came in fifth (153) and Valley's Bill Clark was sixth (157).

Of the golfers remaining on the final day, only Lestini was a senior, meaning five of the top six finishers played against some of the WPIAL's best months before next season starts.

“Anytime you can play against guys who are shooting good scores, it's always fun, and all these guys are good players,” said Wears, Arnold Palmer's grandson who shot a low-round 71 yesterday. “Anytime you can play against guys like that is always a can't-miss opportunity.”

Sommer's third-place finish was his second in as many years, bringing $1,000 in scholarships to South Park. For players such as Nettles, who has visited South Florida, Purdue and Ohio, among other schools, the tournament was an opportunity to get loose in advance of his senior year.

“It's always fun to come out here and play against these guys, and plus you're playing to keep healthy; it's not just the high school season that you're in,” he said. “You play a bunch of tournaments in the summer, and this is a fun tournament to play in just because it's for a good cause.”

Pat Mitsch is a freelance writer.

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