Plum golfer successful over busy summer
The fall high school sports season begins in 11 days with preseason practices, and it will serve as a transition for Plum rising senior Andrew Reynolds from a highly successful summer of tournament golf action.
For Reynolds, who picked up the game of golf about three years ago and has been competitive in tournaments for a slightly shorter period of time, wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities he could since his first tournament of the season in late April at Nemacolin Woodlands in Farmington, Pa.
“I feel like my game has come a long way. I've put in a lot of work,” said Reynolds, who, as a junior last fall, finished second at the WPIAL semifinal at Youghigheny Country Club in McKeesport and qualified for the WPIAL championships.
“The important thing for me is simply keeping my head after making a bogey or double bogey. I've been staying pretty consistent and staying away from a lot of big numbers. I feel my game is pretty solid. I just have to put it all together in the round that I am playing.”
He finished tied for sixth out of 43 golfers in the April event — an International Junior Golf Tour College Prep Tournament on the famed Mystic Rock Course at Nemacolin Woodlands.
The two-day, three-round event featured 36 holes on day one and another 18 on day two. Reynolds shot a 76 in round one and an 83 in round two.
He collected himself on day two and shot a 73 in round three to rally up the leaderboard. His effort earned him the Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award for the player that shoots the lowest score in the final round of the tournament.
The College Prep Series are contests designed to prepare juniors for future college tournaments.
“That was one of my best moments of the season,” Reynolds said.
“I was tied for 11th after the first day. It was only the second time I had ever played Mystic Rock. It's an unbelievably tough course. I was really proud of how I played. Playing 36 holes in one day can be physically and emotionally challenging. I felt good after the 36 holes. I was able to put everything into it and was ready to go the next day.”
Reynolds has 13 tournaments under his belt this summer on a variety of tours. In addition to the IJGT tour, he's played in events on the American Junior Golf Association, the PGA Junior Series and the Tri-State Junior PGA tours.
He owns 10 top 10 finishes this season.
Reynolds won a Keystone Premier Golf Association event at Meadowink Golf Club on July 16 with a round of 70, and he tied for fourth with a 75 at a Tri-State Junior PGA Tour stop at Pittsburgh North the next day.
In addition to all of the tour tournaments, Reynolds tested his mettle at the U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifier at Plum's home course — Willowbrook Country Club — on July 1. He finished fifth with a two-round total of 159 (83-76), four strokes behind the lone qualifier.
At a U.S. Amateur Qualifier at New Castle Country Club on July 14, Reynolds took 52nd (79-84-163).
Reynolds said he enjoyed playing the Olde Stonewall Golf Club Course in Ellwood City on July 8 and 9 as part of the IJGT Summer Series. He placed fifth out of 40 golfers in the boys 15-19 division.
“At Olde Stonewall, you can walk the front nine, but the back nine is on a mountain,” Reynolds said.
“You have a par 4 that is 480 yards, but it only plays 330 because you're teeing off straight down the hill. It's off of a cliff, basically. It's impossible to walk it because of the up and down slopes. It's a fun course to play.”
Reynolds said he pays close attention to PGA Champions Tour pros Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer and how they play the game. That's a good thing for Reynolds, as Langer has been the top player on the Champions Tour this summer. He won the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel in June, and on Sunday, he captured the U.S. Senior Open by a record 13 shots. Langer has 22 Champions Tour wins, including four majors.
Reynolds hopes to have the same good fortune as Langer when he plays in an AJGA Tournament on Long Island, N.Y., from Monday to Aug. 7. He said it's one of the bigger tournaments for him this summer and the final one before the Plum golfers gather for the start of the fall season.
“I never would've thought I would be at this stage of golf this fast,” Reynolds said.
“At the same time, I tried to hit a ball as much as possible. Hard work has been a big part of it.”
The Plum boys golf team broke a long drought — athletic officials and golf coaches aren't sure how long — and qualified for the WPIAL team playoffs in 2013.
Reynolds said with the mixture of talent returning and new golfers to the varsity team, the Mustangs have their sights set on a return to the playoffs this fall.
“(Making the team playoffs) was a meaningful and awesome experience. It motivated everyone to play more and want to get better,” Reynolds said.
“We have a lot of talent coming back, and we can take that next step.”
Plum will be in a new section this fall with Central Catholic, Hampton, Knoch, Mars and Shady Side Academy.�