Leechburg's Barto claims school's first WPIAL golf title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Matt Barto dislikes slow play, but that wasn't an issue for him Monday morning because the Leechburg junior was in the first group to tee off in the WPIAL Class AA championship.
But playing fast also can have its disadvantages in tournament golf. Like having to wait — and wait — for the rest of the field to finish.
Scoreboard-watching for hours after his round, the anxious Barto finally breathed a sigh of relief when the field finished and nobody threatened his clubhouse lead — a solid 1-over par 73 that gave Barto his school's first golf title at Youghiogheny Country Club in McKeesport.
“It was great to get out early and fly like that,” said Barto, last year's runner-up. “I don't have a routine. I see the shot and hit it. I just kept getting nervous when they'd add names (to the leaderboard) and I thought mine dropped.”
Instead, Barto simply set a pace that no one could catch. The kid who topped his tee shot on the first hole of the championship at the same course two years ago, topped the field this time.
“He's a worrier,” Leechburg coach Heath Shimer said. “But he cares so much about his game. He works so hard and puts in the time. I don't know if, in my tenure, I'll coach another one like him.”
Three seniors — Jesse Vensel of McGuffey, Darren Carone of Shenango and Matt Cioffi of Neshannock — tied for second after posting 75s. Sewickley Academy junior Keenan Hickton was fifth at 77.
The top 16 players earned spots in the PIAA Western Regional qualifier Oct. 15 at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville.
Barto's round included four birdies, which had him at 2-under through 14. That turned out to be a cushion because he bogeyed three of the final four holes to close somewhat frustrated.
“I played too safe for how good I was hitting it, if that makes sense,” Barto said. “There was no need for me to back off some shots, but I did. I was hitting it oddly far.”
He drove the uphill, 274-yard third hole and made a tap-in birdie. He had a 60-yard pitch left on the 365-yard 9th, and had only 40 yards in to the 340-yard 18th.
Another qualifier, Kittanning's Jordan Klodowski, who tied for ninth, played in Class AAA last year, but Kittanning dropped due to enrollment.
“There's no difference in the quality of golfers,” Klodowski said. “There are a lot of good players out here. Barto played great. He doesn't have many misses, and when he does, he doesn't miss bad.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-224-2696.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lubrani scorches Duck Hollow in qualifier
- Valley senior Licata, 4 from Kittanning advance out of Section 1-AA boys golf qualifier