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St. Bonaventure freshman leads West Penn Amateur entering final round

| Monday, July 1, 2013, 9:33 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Ronald Denunzio tees off from 1 at the Butler Country Club July 1, 2013 during the West Penn Amateur golf tournament.

Joshua Stauffer didn't make the cut in his first West Penn Amateur in 2012.

This year, the 19-year-old freshman at St. Bonaventure who lives in Bradford made sure he would play in the final round when he shot a 2-under-par 138 Monday during the first two rounds of the 113th West Penn Amateur. He takes a 1-shot lead into the final round Tuesday at Butler Country Club.

After a grueling 36 holes, Stauffer was told he was the West Penn Golf Association's Frank Fuhrer III Award winner for the top collegiate golfer.

He shot even-par 70 during a rainy first round in the morning but followed with a 2-under 68 in the afternoon after the skies had cleared.

“I thought the course played a little easier in the second round,” Stauffer said. “It stopped raining, and it dried out pretty good.”

Stauffer was one of three golfers to go under par in the afternoon. Some contenders said they believed fatigue played a factor in their higher afternoon scores.

Stauffer had nine birdies during his two rounds.

“I didn't hit the ball great, but my short game saved me a lot, and my putting was spot on,” he said. “Last year, I didn't play great. This year, I am.”

Chasing the youngster are numerous past champions, including two-time winner David Brown, seven-time winner Sean Knapp and Rick Stimmel.

Brown, 52, had a 3-under 67 to lead in the morning but shot 72 in the afternoon and finished at 139.

The Pittsburgh native last won the event in 2011 at Oakmont Country Club.

“Playing in the rain makes you concentrate a little more,” Brown said about his better score in the morning. “I'm happy where I am. The key for me in the final round is to hit some fairways, and everything else will take care of itself.”

Knapp is three shots back at 141 following rounds of 71 and 70. The 51-year-old Oakmont resident was forced to carry his own bag because his regular caddie was ill and his backup had to work.

Despite being three back, Knapp likes his position.

“A lot of the young guys haven't won, and I have,” Knapp said. “So the pressure is on them. I'm just going to go out and just play and see what happens.

“I haven't been playing well. It's like pulling teeth. I've been inconsistent.”

Four shots backs at 142 are Pittsburgh's Stimmel, Belle Vernon's Bo Lustig and Wexford's Kevin O'Brien. Six golfers are at 143, including Jeannette's Ronald DeNunzio, who shot a 2-under 68 in the morning, and Pittsburgh's Trent Karlik, who was 1-under in the afternoon.

The field of 62 was reduced to the top 32 and ties. There are 35 golfers in the final round.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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