Two share lead at 109th West Penn Open
By Paul Schofield
Published: Monday, June 17, 2013, 9:24 p.m.
It has been 35 years since a golfer has won consecutive West Penn Open championships. After Day 1 of the 109th West Penn Open on Monday, the wait will be at least another year.
Returning champion Dan Thompson, who won titles in 2007, '09 and '12, didn't have a good day during the first two rounds. The Johnstown native struggled at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort's Mystic Rock course in Farmington, shooting a 153 and failing to make the cut.
The co-leaders were Greensburg's Ryan Sikora, a teaching professional at Hannastown Golf Club, and Irwin's Dan Obremski. They had little trouble with the more than 7,000-yard course; each shot a 9-under-par 135, to lead a group of young, talented players.
Wexford's Mike Van Sickle is a shot back at 136, and Pittsburgh's Kevin Shields is fourth (137). Obremski and Van Sickle are mini-tour players.
Golfers with the lowest 32 scores, plus ties, advanced to the final round Tuesday, which begins at 7:30 a.m. The cut was 149, and 33 golfers will be vying for the $7,000 first-place prize.
Obremski and Shields were in double-figures under par — Obremski at 10-under and Shields at 11 — during the afternoon session. Both gave back a few shots during their final nine holes.
“I feel good about the position I'm in,” Obremski said. “There are a couple (Frank) Fuhrer (Invitational) winners. There are a lot of good golfers and scores on the board.
“I like the course. It was set up shorter than I expected. In my first round in, I was trying to get into the rhythm of things and was 2-over at one point. I had a rough start, but I finished really strong.”
Obremski had two eagles. During the morning session, which was delayed for 25 minutes because of lightning, he eagled No. 5. In the afternoon, he eagled No. 13.
Shields said fatigue got to him late in his round. But he hopes getting refreshed and a tougher course setup for the final round will be beneficial.
“I made some tired swings and stopped concentrating,” Shields said. “I feel good, but I hate to give some shots back.”
Sikora, who shot 7-under 65 during the morning session to lead by a stroke, said he was pleased with his 36-hole performance.
“I didn't do anything bad in the morning, and I missed a few putts in the afternoon,” Sikora said. “I hit the tee ball solid, and I didn't make any mistakes. I three-putted (Nos. 6 and 8) for bogeys coming in, but I played well.”
Van Sickle summarized his second round by referencing the movie “The Good, Bad and Ugly.”
Starting on No. 10, he double bogeyed. He followed that with an eagle and two more bogeys. He eventually got back to even on No. 18.
“It was a ho-hum 36 on the first nine with an eagle, two birdies, two bogeys and a double,” Van Sickle said. “I closed with a birdie (No. 6) and eagle (No. 8) to get another round in the 60s.”
Van Sickle shot a 67 in the morning and a 69 in the afternoon.
“I have to eliminate mistakes,” Van Sickle said. “Every time I hit a bad shot, I got penalized. I was missing it in the wrong spots. During my first two rounds, I had 19 under-par strokes. I had nine birdies in the first round, and six birdies and two eagles in the second round. I could be sitting here 19-under, but obviously I made almost as many mistakes.”
Tied for fifth at 139 are amateur Austin Romeo of Erie and Robert Rohanna of Waynesburg. Amateur Ronald DeNunzio of Jeannette is at 141, and Trent Karlik of Pittsburgh is at 143.
Pittsburgh's Roy Vucinich, the last back-to-back winner (1977-78), made the cut with a 148.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.
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