Knoch golfer Carlsson takes aim at WPIALs
According to his coach and teammates, Knoch senior Stefan Carlsson has an imaginative short game, much like the player Carlsson likes to watch most — Phil Mickelson.
“It's a little different because he's a lefty,” Carlsson said. “It's hard to explain. You see a shot and try to feel it. Even if it's a little different than what most players would do, you just play it.”
Carlsson may need that creativity Wednesday at lush Fox Chapel Golf Club, which will play host to the WPIAL Class AAA boys golf championship.
Seeking to become Knoch's first golf champion since Jeff Dickson, who won back-to-back titles in 1991-92, Carlsson has been steady in the postseason.
The fourth-year starter, who is a member at Butler Country Club, shot 2-over par 74 to tie for fourth at the semifinal tournament played at Seven Oaks Golf Course in Beaver.
“Stefan has a very solid game from tee to green,” Knoch coach Rob Voltz said. “He is learning to score well, even if he is not hitting it great. I am very impressed with his ability to stay calm and focused during difficult times.”
Fox Chapel Golf Club hosted the Constellation Senior Players Championship this summer, providing a major-championship venue for some of the Champions Tour's premier names, including Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin and Mark Calcavecchia.
The WPIAL's top Class AAA players won't see the same tournament conditions, but the tree-lined, well-bunkered venue won't be far off.
Knoch plays Shady Side Academy, which calls Fox Chapel Golf Club home, so Carlsson's played it. But he also watched the Champions Tour players take aim.
“You watch shots from the helicopter on TV, and there are some crazy setups,” Carlsson said. “There are certain places you have to go on the greens and you have to know where they are. And there are places you don't want to go.”
Other locals in the 36-player WPIAL field include Valley senior Bill Clark and Plum sophomore Andrew Reynolds.
Clark shared medalist honors with Shady Side's Troy Berglund at the Section 8-AAA tournament, firing a 74 at Saxon Golf Course. Carlsson was a shot back.
“He is a special player, and all of Knight Country is rooting for him,” Voltz said.
Although some coaches are saying the field is wide open, a few of the top contenders include senior Brody Taylor of Bethel Park, senior Will Wears of Latrobe and Peters Township senior Tommy Nettles.
Taylor blistered the back nine at Cranberry Highlands Golf Course in the semifinals, shooting 4-under 31 en route to a 2-under 68.
Wears, who is Arnold Palmer's grandson, signed for a 74 in the qualifier at The Links at Spring Church.
Nettles can take it low. He fired a 33 on the front nine last year at Treesdale Golf & Country Club. Although, he closed with 40 and settled for third.
Defending champion Zack Taylor also is competing. The Baldwin sophomore won as a ninth-grader, shooting 1-under 71.
“Any of the 36 players that qualified has a shot at winning,” Voltz said. “It only takes one hot round to win.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.