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Upper St. Clair golfer bound for Notre Dame

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:08 p.m.

Upper St. Clair golfer Thomas Steve's first week of his senior year was an eventful one.

Steve shot a 31, 33 and a career-low 28 at St. Clair Country Club to lead the Panthers to an early 3-0 record. To go along with his performance on the course, Steve committed to Notre Dame on a golf scholarship.

“Normally the first week of the year, I'm used to playing golf all summer, so I'm still in a groove,” Steve said. “Once school starts it's tough because you don't get as much time to practice, but it shouldn't make a difference.”

Steve was a highly recruited golfer in the WPIAL, choosing the Fighting Irish over the likes of Virginia Tech, Davidson and Daytona. He said the opportunity to golf and represent the Catholic university at South Bend was a dream come true.

“It's where I wanted to go for as long as I can remember,” he said. “The academics there are very tough to beat. They have a great golf program with solid coaches, so it was a great fit for me.”

Steve said the opportunity to compete at the Division-I level and compete against some of the best golfers in the Atlantic Coast Conference at the best courses in the country will be an excellent gauge of the player he has become.

Last season, Steve placed third in the WPIAL individual tournament and slipped to 10th at the Western Regional at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville. This summer, Steve sought to focus on the mental aspect of his game to avoid a letdown later in the season.

“On that course (Tom's Run Golf Course), you have to keep the ball in play,” Steve said. “I was hitting it everywhere. I just have to take it one step at a time and try to get to states and also help our team get there.”

This summer, Steve was out on the course almost daily working to improve his game on difficult courses to prepare for what the WPIAL has to offer.

“I've definitely worked on putting and short game,” he said. “During the summer, you play longer courses so your short game saves your round.

“During high school (season), the courses are shorter so the short game helps you get those birdies.”

Steve's goals are simple this season. He said he hopes to help contribute on the team level and individually end his high school career on a high note.

“I want to win WPIALs with my team like we did sophomore year,” he said. “I thought we could last year but didn't come through.

“Individually, I'm hoping to compete in WPIALs and states and try to give myself a chance to win on the last day.”

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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