Local golf notebook: West Penn Open boasts tradition

| Sunday, June 16, 2013, 6:51 p.m.

Dan Thompson will try to defend his West Penn Open title Monday and Tuesday when one of the oldest championships in the country is held at Mystic Rock.

Almost 80 players will vie for more than $30,000 in prize money or merchandise at the 54-hole tournament.

Thirty-six holes will be played Monday, and the top 32 and ties will advance to the final round Tuesday.

Thompson, a Johnstown resident, will have no shortage of challengers when he attempts to win the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association's signature event for a fourth time.

There are eight former West Open champions in the field, including Roy Vucinich, whose five victories tie him for the most in tournament history.

Web.com player Jon Mills is also in the field, as are mini-tour players Mike Van Sickle, Rick Stimmel and Sean Knapp.

Van Sickle is one of four former Pennsylvania Open champions in the field. Stimmel has won the Pennsylvania Open, the Pennsylvania Amateur Open and the West Penn State.

Few golf tournaments can match the tradition and longevity of the West Penn State, which dates to 1899.

Past champions include Arnold Palmer, Jock Hutchison, Sam Parks Jr. and Lew Worsham. All went on to win majors. Palmer, a Latrobe native, captured seven of them during his storied career.

Coming soon

The Constellation Senior Players Championship is less than two weeks away, and the Champions Tour's third major of the season should again provide a good show for Western Pennsylvania golf fans.

Greensburg native Rocco Mediate returns for the tournament, which will be played June 27-30 at Fox Chapel Golf Club. Mediate won his Champions Tour debut in early February but still is looking for his second victory.

The 50-and-older circuit is so competitive that Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer is the only player who has won multiple times this year. Tom Lehman, the Champions Tour's top player in 2012 and a runner-up at the Senior Players Championship, has yet to win this season.

“It blows my mind how well they play,” Mark O'Meara said of his fellow senior golfers. “At times I've hit the ball as good or better than I've ever hit it in my life, and yet I've (only) won twice out there.”

O'Meara, 56, is tied for second in top-10 finishes (six) on the Champions Tour this season. The former Masters and British Open champion is looking forward to playing Fox Chapel after missing the Senior Players Championship last season because of a back injury.

“I'm disappointed I haven't won more on the Champions Tour, but I haven't played that bad,” O'Meara said. “It's just that guys play extremely well.”

Night for ‘The King'

The Mylan Classic will honor Palmer two nights before the Web.com event is held at Southpointe Golf Club.

The tournament will stage a private dinner for Palmer on July 30, and all proceeds from a “Tribute to the King” will go to charity.

The Mylan Classic will be played Aug. 1-4

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at sbrown@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ ScottBrown_Trib.

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