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West Virginia golfers top Fuhrer leader board

Paul Schofield
| Tuesday, July 24, 2001

The 17th annual Frank B. Fuhrer Jr. Golf Invitational has the look of the West Virginia Open.

The top three players on the leader board, after three rounds of the 72-hole Tri-State PGA event, are West Virginians.

The leader is Brad Westfall, who scorched the Sewickley Heights Country Club layout with a course tying 6-under-par 66. Westfall, the head pro and owner of Tygart Lake Golf Course in Grafton, W.Va., is at 2-under 214.

Jonathan Clark, an assistant pro at Sleepy Hollow Golf Course in Hurricane, W.Va., and Barry Evans, head pro at Berry Hill Country Club in Charleston, W.Va., each were a 1-over 217, three shots behind Westfall.

Oakmont pro Bob Ford and amateur Steve Wheatcroft of Washington were tied for fourth place at 2-over 218, while Travis Dickson, assistant at Treesdale Golf and Country Club and Steve Antenucci of the Longue Vue Club were tied for sixth at 219.

The winning pro captures the $20,000 first-place purse and receives an automatic berth to the PGA Pennsylvania Classic in August. The question to be answered today is who will survive the pressure of the final round.

Will it be Westfall• Or will someone come from way back like amateur Sean Knapp did last year to win the tournament•

Fast facts
What: Frank B. Fuhrer Jr. Invitational

Where: Sewickley Heights Country Club, Bell Acres

When: Today, 8 a.m. final round

At stake: $100,00 purse, $20,000 for the winner. The top professional also gets a spot in the PGA Pennsylvania Classic.

Leaders: 1. Brad Westfall 214; 2. Jonathan Clark and Barry Evans 217; 4. Steve Wheatcroft and Bob Ford 218; 6. Travis Dickson and Steve Antenucci 219; 8. Mike Ferry and Jim Bryan 220.
Westfall is the guy everyone is chasing, after he stunned many of the contestants with his 66.

Evans, who held the lead after the first two rounds, yelled over to Westfall during the round and said, 'Don't you know this is a tough golf course.'

Which got a chuckle from Westfall.

'Barry is always trying to get to me during a round,' Westfall said. 'This was my best ball striking day of the year. I hit the ball very well. I probably should have birdied the first six holes.

'While I probably could have shot a lower score, I'm not complaining. You better take what you can get at this golf course.'

Westfall's game was on, and he didn't fizzle under the intense heat that baked the golfers for the second consecutive day. The golfers were greeted with 90-degree temperatures and high humidity yesterday, but a breeze helped make things bearable.

Westfall had birdies on Nos. 1, 4, 5 and 6 on the front nine, and birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 on the back nine. He missed a two-foot putt for birdie on No. 2, and three-putted No. 3 for par.

Westfall, 37, opened the tournament with a 3-under 69 during Monday's morning round, but shot a 7-over 79 during the afternoon round, and finished at 148.

During monday's round, he said he discovered a flaw in his golf swing and tried something different yesterday.

'Being an owner of a course demands a lot more hours of your time,' Westfall said. 'Now, I must deal with the bar, restaurant and lounge, plus the golf aspect. I use to play and work out a lot more.

'I found out what was wrong with my swing. I was aiming too far right and over swinging. Now I'm aiming left and taking a shorter back swing.'

Amateur Jim Bryan was paired with Westfall for the third round. The dentist from Latrobe fed off Westfall's success until the final three holes. He bogeyed No. 16, had a par on the par 5 No. 17 and a triple-bogey 7 on No. 18 and finished the day with a 1-over 73.

Bryan is tied for eighth place at 220.

'It was fun watching Brad,' Bryan said. 'He had it going. His iron play was unbelievable.

'I played my heart out for 17 holes. I was feeding off how well Brad was playing. Then I played stupid on the final hole.'

Bryan's driver landed in a fairway bunker. He chipped into another bunker short of the green, and then chipped over the green. His fourth shot landed 15 feet above the cup and he ran his bogey putt past the hole. When he missed putt, he tapped in for a seven.

'I can't see how you can shot 6-under on a day like this,' Evans said. 'But if there is one person that could do it, it was Brad. Who would believe it after he shot a 79 (Monday).'

Ford and Gordon Vietmeier had consistent third rounds. Ford had 17 pars and a bogey, and Vietmeier had 18 pars.

Brent Johnson, a 2-under-par 70, and Dennis Dolci and Dick von Tacky, each a 1-under-par 71, were the only golfers other than Westfall to shot sub-par rounds.

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