Fox Chapel's Sheerer takes 5th at WPIAL golf finals
Every WPIAL golfer sets out to win the individual championship at the start of the postseason, and the gold medal is the most coveted prize.
But many players will tell you with complete honesty that advancing to the next round is the first order of business.
It's a make-the-cut mentality for most.
Fox Chapel senior Patrick Sheerer found himself in a position to contend for a title Wednesday afternoon but left the course with the satisfaction that he'll play on.
Sheerer was 1-under-par through 12 holes and was a shot off the lead at one point but settled for a 1-over 71 to finish tied for fifth in the WPIAL Class AAA individual championship at Diamond Run Golf Club in Sewickley.
Scoring conditions seemed ideal, with greens rolling and only a light breeze under all-day sunshine.
“It was out there today,” said Sheerer, who advanced to the PIAA Western Regional tournament Oct. 16 at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville. “A couple putts here and there go differently, and who knows what happens?”
Sheerer, who shot 1-under 33 on the front side, knocked in back-to-back birdie putts on Nos. 8 and 9 to get into red numbers.
He hit 13 greens in regulation.
“It's great for a kid who invests so much time and effort, see the results of that hard work,” Fox Chapel coach Bryan Deal said. “Patrick does everything he has to do. The good thing now is he moves on, and the scoreboard is all equal. He's starting in first and tied for the lead.”
The top 14 finishers advanced to the regional round. The highest qualifying score was 77.
Steady play has been the key to Sheerer's game all season. He's helped Fox Chapel stay undefeated with one regular-season match to play.
“I had two three-putts, on 2 and 12,” Sheerer said. “On 12. I got a little too aggressive with it and it lipped out.”
Three Alle-Kiski players missed the cut to advance to the next round. Fox Chapel senior D.J. Dietrich shot 81, Kiski Area senior Tyler Paunovich had 85 and Plum junior Andrew Reynolds carded 88.
“I played 12 holes in 5-over,” Paunovich said. “My drives weren't very good. I knew I'd probably have to be in the 70s (to qualify).
“It was awesome to be able to be here. It still was a fun round.”
Reynolds made his second straight appearance in the finals but said he'll have to spend extra time practicing to make a third next fall.
“My head wasn't in it, right from the beginning,” he said. “My putting wasn't good, chipping wasn't good. I couldn't hit any greens. My game hasn't been the greatest of late. I have to get better prepared for this type of tournament.”
Fox Chapel's third qualifier, senior Jordan Alfery, withdrew after three holes due to a back injury. He hurt himself during a match against Kiski Area on Tuesday while hitting out of a bunker. He pulled out of that match after seven holes but attempted to play Wednesday.
“It's commendable to see him give it a try, but you hate to see him in pain,” Deal said. “It's tough for him. Last year he was the alternate. This year he gets in and can't play.”
South Fayette senior Corey Long matched 3-under 67s with Indiana senior Matt Haluta to tie for the lead after 18 holes. Long won the WPIAL title on the fourth extra hole.
Haluta's round included seven birdies. He shot 32 on the front nine.
Upper St. Clair's Thomas Steve and Grant Engel also finished under par, and 2- and 1-under, to finish third and fourth, respectively.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.