Leechburg's Barto finishes 2nd at PIAA Western Regional
Every golfer has a story about his or her round, and none are alike.
That was the case Monday at the PIAA Western Regional at Tom's Run Golf Course at Chestnut Ridge Resort in Blairsville.
While the stories were different, one thing was similar — the WPIAL golfers dominated the action.
Of the 48 spots available for the PIAA tournament, which begins Monday at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York, 33 will be taken up by WPIAL golfers. Four of those players hail from the Allie-Kiski Valley.
Leechburg junior Matt Barto finished two shots behind Yough senior Alex Patricio in Class AA. Barto, who finished with a 2-over-par 72, said he was ready to chuck his putter after his first six holes. He was 5-over and in danger of posting a big score.
Then, he found a lucky charm, a bull frog, sitting between the 13th and 14th holes.
“It was just sitting there, so I touched it with my putter to see if it was alive,” Barto said. “Then, I proceeded to birdie three of the next five holes. I said this random bull frog is my good luck charm.
“I started playing better after I saw the frog. I wanted to win, but I'm so happy to make states again.”
Barto birdied Nos. 4, 14, 17 and 18. He began his round on the fifth hole.
Patricio took top honors in Class AA with an even-par 72. He had eight birdies, including six consecutive.
“I didn't have many pars,” Patricio said. “I should have been in the 60s, but I didn't chip well. My putting was really good. I just don't work enough on my short game.”
There were 12 golfers in Class AA to advance, including Kittanning senior Jordan Klodowski, who shot 77.
Valley senior Bill Clark was among the 10 Class AAA golfers from the WPIAL to advance to the state tournament.
Clark, who shot 77, said he couldn't believe he four-putted for double bogey on No. 3. But he got redemption on the next hole and chipped in for birdie to finish his round.
“I'm excited. I've never done this before,” Clark said. “I started well, and then, I started getting real sloppy. I was up and down the entire round.”
He had three birdies during the round, which began on the fifth hole. He birdied Nos. 5 and 8 to reach 2-under.
“It was a relief to get the birdie on the final hole,” Clark said. “It felt good.”
North Allegheny senior Kevin O'Brien wasn't so accurate with his driver. His first drive (No. 4) ended up in a hazard. But O'Brien kept his composure and finished with the best score of the day, a 1-over 71 to win the Class AAA event.
“It was a lot of scrambling,” O'Brien said. “Chipping and putting got me through the round.”
Canon-McMillan sophomore Lauren Waller was the Class AAA girls medalist with an even-par 72. All six spots available in Class AAA went to WPIAL golfers, including Hempfield senior Janista Numpho-Frank, the WPIAL champion, and Penn-Trafford senior Haley Borkovich.
The Class AA girls winner was North East (District 10) junior Megan Moylan, who shot 77. Five WPIAL players advanced, including three from Central Valley, as well as WPIAL champion Gillian Alexander of Jefferson-Morgan and Freeport freshman Audrey Clawson, who shot 85.
There were a couple of WPIAL golfers who didn't advance. WPIAL Class AAA champion Brent Rodgers, a Central Catholic junior, and Latrobe senior Will Wears didn't have their best rounds. Rodgers shot 80; Wears 85.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-836-5095.