Leechburg's Barto out to defend WPIAL Class AA title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
In the 60-plus years the WPIAL has been staging boys golf championships, only eight players have repeated as champions.
If Matt Barto wins Wednesday, he'll become the ninth. The Leechburg senior will try to defend his title at Sewickley Heights Golf Club.
Repeat champs include Mike Van Sickle (Pine-Richland, 2003-04), Jeff Dickson (Knoch, 1991-92), Frank Fuhrer III (Fox Chapel, 1974-76), Bob O'Block (Plum, 1960-61) — and don't forget Arnold Palmer (Latrobe, 1946-47).
Fuhrer and Brentwood's Ron Schwarzel (1952-54) won three straight.
Barto's second title, which he knows won't come easy, is for him, not the history books.
“The only reason I am putting pressure on myself is because that's what I always do,” said Barto, the PIAA runner-up last season. “That (repeating) doesn't bother me. It's not something I am thinking about.
“Tiger always says he plays against the golf course, not the players. It's you vs. the golf course and that's how I am thinking.”
Barto just capped a four-peat at the Section 1-AA tournament. His 1-over-par 73 at Deertrak Golf Course gave him a 9-shot victory.
His game appears primed for the finals. His coach thinks the engraver can start chiseling.
“I'm betting the house,” Leechburg coach Heath Shimer said. “If he's my horse in the race, I'm taking him. I think he'll be disappointed if he doesn't win. I don't think he'll consider himself a failure, it's just that his bar is set right up there.”
A consistent driver and iron player, Barto always is looking for ways to carve up lower scores.
Lately, he's been working on his 50-yards-and-in shot, trying to develop a low, spinning approach that checks up.
“I am not comfortable landing the high, soft shot that needs 8-10 feet to bounce,” he said. “You need a lot of green to have it roll out on. The farther away you are from the hole, the more room you have for error. You're more likely to hit it close from 50 yards in.”
Barto thinks he will be able to negotiate a number of the doglegs at Sewickley.
“For me, any way you can make the course more challenging, the better,” he said. “I feel I can handle quirky courses better. I want a real test so you can really highlight the better players and the best one can come out on top.”
Barto hasn't shot worse than 39 in any match this season for a Leechburg team that's struggled to break 230.
That said, he's posted five rounds in the 60s across the last three weeks, including a 66 with two chip-in eagles at his home course of Willowbrook Country Club.
The score was one shot off the course record set by former Kiski Area golf coach and amateur Rich Mottura.
Two players that threaten Barto's championship chase will be playing with him, in the first group, scheduled to go off at 9 a.m.
Serra Catholic senior Max Kaminsky, who won the then-Division II title when he was a freshman, and Burgettstown senior Owen Miller, also are among the contenders. Barto believes the winner will come out of his threesome.
“Keenan Hickton and Sam Duerr (both of Sewickley Academy) also are good players,” Barto said.
The top 16 finishers advance to the PIAA Western Regional Tournament Oct. 15 at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville.
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.
- Starkey: Chryst a miserable failure at Pitt
- Pouliot scores in NHL debut as Penguins tame Panthers
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Pitt players support Rudolph for job
- Pitt football fights to overcome steppingstone status
- Steelers’ Bell, Chiefs’ Charles elevating running back position in NFL
- Jeannette company’s miniature steam engines coveted for decades
- Real estate union: Howard Hanna buys Langholz Wilson Ellis
- Pair of NYC officers killed in ambush shooting
- Steelers notebook: Bell says he’s prepared to test Chiefs defense
- Westmoreland County furloughs weights and measurements director