New Castle's Evan Long, Stephen Cerbara earn U.S. Open sectional berths
When Stephen Cerbara lined up his 12-foot putt on No. 18 at Quicksilver Golf Club on Wednesday, he had no idea where he stood on the leaderboard.
His aunt, Angela Repka of Belle Vernon, did, and she gave him a look that he needed to make the putt.
Cerbara sank the birdie putt, gave a fist pump and secured a spot in the U.S. Open Sectional on June 4. There, he hopes to qualify for the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, N.Y., on June 14-17.
Cerbara, from Langhorne near Philadelphia, and New Castle's Evan Long (Laurel) each shot 4-under-par 67 to earn the two berths to the next round. Cerbara's clutch putt kind of ruined Central Catholic junior Neal Shipley's day.
Shipley posted an early 3-under 68 earlier in the day and sat nervously in the clubhouse waiting for the final few golfers to post a score. Shipley, a Mt. Lebanon resident, settled for the first alternate spot and Wexford's David Lutterus earned the second alternate after finishing with a 1-under 70. Zach Ford of Cochranton also shot a 70, but he did not stick around for the playoff.
“I'm happy I picked here,” said Cerbara, a future Drexel player. “I got to visit family and when I looked online the course looked in good shape and well kept.”
Cerbara, 19, had three birdies (Nos. 3, 5 and 8) on the front nine to go along with a couple good saves, and two birdies (Nos. 15 and 18) on the back. His lone bogey was No. 11.
“I hit it close, and I putted well,” Cerbara said.
This was his fifth attempt in a U.S. Open local qualifier and first time he advanced.
Long, a freshman at Minnesota, said he was looking to have fun with his dad (Ed) as his caddie.
“I played well and had fun,” Long said. “It helped me get going because everyone in the group played well.”
Long, 19, was a three-time PIAA and WPIAL placewinner.
He had six birdies (Nos. 4, 7, 9, 10, 15 and 16) and two bogeys (Nos. 3 and 18).
Shipley, who missed an AP Statistical final, paced and watched the golfers play No. 18. He was hoping his 68 would hold up.
“I tried to qualify last year, and I didn't have a good day,” Shipley said. “I shot an 80 and then was disqualified because I signed an incorrect scorecard. I haven't done that again. It was a good learning experience.”
Shipley, 17, had four birdies (Nos. 1, 9, 14 and 15). He bogeyed No. 10.
“This was a good experience,” Shipley said. “I wanted to go out and post a good score early.”
Unfortunately for Shipley, Cerbara made a clutch putt in the final group.