Leechburg's Barto takes analytical approach
TribLIVE Sports Videos
From classes to golf, the framework of Matt Barto's entire scholastic existence is based on structure.
The Leechburg senior keeps his room neat. He doesn't take his eye off his homework until it's methodically finished. He always arrives early for his tee times.
“I don't notice the way I am, it's just natural,” Barto said. “I love to play golf. I love to do well in school. I just really like to have things thought out. If you have the time to prepare, why waste it?
“To me, fun is success and success is fun.”
Always a thinker — he plans to major in mechanical engineering in college — Barto is known for plodding his way around the course. Which means his mind will be churning from the time he arrives in York for the PIAA Class AA golf championship at Heritage Hills Resort, until the final putt drops and the leaders are posted.
Barto, who has tied for 40th and finished runner-up in his previous two trips to the state championship, likes to post photos on Twitter of food he likes — chicken-wing bones and pizza crusts among them.
Even at the dinner table, he's analyzing. He even posted a “Man vs. Food” tweet after he conquered a considerable breakfast at a local restaurant.
He hopes a post-tournament meal will have a celebratory tone.
“I am not a flashy player,” Barto said. “I think about shots. Sometimes, you have to work with what you got.”
Barto's career has consisted of four section titles and and two WPIAL titles, but a state title is what's kept him hungry.
“There will be more really good players, but not the depth we've seen in the past,” Barto said. “If I go out and shoot 68-71 and don't win, there's nothing wrong with that. But my goal always is to win.”
Barto played a key role in getting a golf program started at Leechburg, and has become the face of it.
“I remember when I had him in school in the second grade,” Leechburg golf coach Heath Shimer said. “I asked him, ‘What do you want to do in high school? Play football? What?' He said, ‘No, I want to play golf.' I said, ‘We don't have a golf team.' He said, ‘We will.'
“Matt is both a physical and cerebral player. He doesn't have that prototypical golfer look to him, but when you see him play, you forget that.”
Another local player to watch at the state finals is Fox Chapel senior Pat Sheerer, his school's first boys PIAA qualifier in seven years. After winning a section title, he finished fifth at the WPIAL championship and took medalist honors at the PIAA West Regional, shooting 70, 71, 71, respectively — a combined 1-under-par for his postseason.
Sheerer has the all-around game to excel in his first state-finals appearance.
Countless hours of practice at Pittsburgh Field Club has helped Sheerer put together a career season. He hits drivers at the main range at his team's home course, but spends extra time at the short-game area.
“My driver has been more consistent and my short game has really come around,” Sheerer said. “I have been really solid from 100 yards and in.”
On the girls side, Freeport sophomore Audrey Clawson returns to Heritage Hills with much more confidence and much less tension. She finished tied for seventh in the Class AA state tournament as a wide-eyed freshman, new to the big stage and unsure of what to expect.
“I know I won't be as nervous this time,” said Clawson, the Section 1-AA medalist who finished tied for sixth at the WPIAL tournament and seventh at the regional. “I remember the second day being a little more settled and just having fun. I really wanted to do well. Nerves will always be there I guess, but I want to improve on last year.”
Clawson has played well despite breaking her left ring finger just before the WPIAL finals.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.