Latrobe's Pevarnik, FR's Jackson team up for WPGA in Palmer Cup triumph
For Brady Pevarnik and Palmer Jackson, getting a chance to play against some of the top golf professionals from Western Pennsylvania was one thing.
But helping the West Penn Golf Association's top amateurs win the 22nd Palmer Cup was even better.
The two high school juniors — Pevarnik from Latrobe and Jackson from Franklin Regional — are two of the top players in the WPIAL and the state. They also were the youngest players to compete in the event at age 16.
They helped the WPGA to its fourth consecutive Palmer Cup victory, 13-4 against the Tri-State PGA pros. The TSPGA leads the all-time series 15-6-1.
Pevarnik defeated Gordon Vietmeier, 4 and 3, in the morning singles matches and then teamed up with Jackson in the afternoon four-ball matches to defeat Aaron Gizzi and Gene Walter, 2-up.
“It's such a great honor to be invited to play in this event, especially since I was named after Mr. Palmer,” Jackson said. “This is really special.”
The annual event was named after the late Latrobe legend of golf, Arnold Palmer, in 1996. Palmer passed away almost a year ago, days after the 21st event.
There were many times that Palmer competed in the event for the Tri-State PGA team, and each year he'd compete against a different player.
“He wanted all the amateurs to experience a match against him,” WPGA president Terry Teasdale said.
The WPGA squad also included USGA Senior Amateur champion Sean Knapp, David Brown, Nathan Smith and Rick Stimmel. The Tri-State PGA squad was missing John Aber, Rob McClellan and Kevin Shields, who all had prior commitments.
The amateur grabbed an 8.5-1.5 lead in the morning singles matches. Many of the matches were close, but the amateurs prevailed.
The one that wasn't as close was Pevarnik's and Vietmeier's match.
“It started close,” Vietmeier said. “I put one close on No. 1 and he bounced back to sink a long birdie on No. 2. “We went back-and-forth until No. 8; that's when Brady took the lead for good. He was a perfect 3 for 3 from the bunkers. That was impressive. He's an excellent player, very mature.”
Vietmeier said Pevarnik stayed calm and was never rattled.
“I got a little nervous after he cut my 2-up lead to 1 with a birdie on No. 12,” Pevarnik said. “But I made a big putt on No. 13 to win the hole, and then I finished with consecutive birdies.”
The birdie on No. 15, another bunker save, was applauded by Vietmeier.
“I never expected a high school player to hand me my worst loss in this event,” Vietmeier said. “These kids are learning the game fast and competing in college type events at age 14. The AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) events are really helping these kids.”
Pevarnik said competing in the event was not only fun, but a confidence-booster
“Palmer played great in the afternoon,” Pevarnik said. “We were ham and egging (feeding off each other) it. It's an awesome event, and we were treated so well.”
Jackson added: “This was so fun. I was glad they paired me up with Brady. I couldn't have asked for a better partner.”
Both are looking forward to the opportunity to play in the event again. The Tri-State PGA squad hopes they turn pro soon so they can play on the other side.