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Rodney advances to Westfield Junior PGA Championship

| Friday, July 6, 2001

Patience. Patience. Patience.

Perhaps the single worst thing a golfer can have is a bad temper, and at Thursday's PGA Junior Championship at Norvelt Golf Club, Butler's Jon Pratkanis learned the hard way.

After tying North Allegheny's Ben Rodney at the end of a rain-soaked 18 holes with a score of 72, the duo played the 320-yard, par-4 ninth hole for the championship.

After two shots each, both were roughly eight feet from the pin. Rodney shot first, but putted his ball nearly three feet past the hole. With a chance to win, Pratkanis also missed, but by just inches. Then, instead of waiting his turn, angrily tried to tap it in, but missed. Rodney, in near disbelief, sunk his putt for the title.

'He just went up and kind of whiffed, but nicked the ball' said Rodney, who qualified for the Westfield Junior PGA Championship with the win. 'I was standing there and didn't know what to think, and then I asked him if he touched it and he said he did.'

Two-time PIAA champion Katie Miller of Hempfield won the girls tournament with a score of 72 and qualified for Junior PGA Championship.

Due to the afternoon storm, the tournament was limited to 18 holes instead of the 36-hole format.

When the weather cleared, the other groups finished, but it meant Rodney, who finished in the morning, had to wait for the results to trickle in, and then had to play the playoff without warming up.

'I was standing at the playoff tee and just really trying to loosen up,' he said.

Afterward, a mellow Rodney admitted that reaching the playoff was a little bit of luck.

'I played pretty well, but I did get pretty lucky a couple of times,' he said. 'I was making some really long putts. The first time I played No. 9 today, I made about a 35-footer that would have probably went way past the green, but it hit the hole, bounced up in the air a foot and went back down in. My group kept getting mad at me for those kinds of shots, but, sometimes, it's your day.'

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