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Thomas wins the WPGA Boys Championship

| Tuesday, June 18, 2002

After dominating the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association's 13-and-younger age group last year, Donald Thomas, 14, of Export is having little difficulty adjusting to playing in a higher age group.

Monday at Kittanning Country Club, Thomas won the WPGA Boys Championship, shooting an even-par 71. He defeated Jimmy Markovitz of Bridgeville by two shots.

Thomas bogeyed the second hole before draining a 30-foot putt for birdie on the sixth. He bogeyed Nos. 8 and 11, but birdied 12 and 16 to get back to even par.

On the par-4 12th, Thomas used a 7-iron from 155 yards out to get within 1 foot of the flag before tapping in for birdie. On the 16th he hit a chip shot within 6 inches of the hole before sinking the birdie that got him back to even par.

Thomas only missed two greens in regulation throughout the day

"I thought I played pretty well," Thomas said. "I would've liked to have putted better, but overall I'm happy with how I played."

Thomas won this tournament last year in the 13-and-younger division. It was one of his 10 victories in the 12 matches he played.

This is Thomas's second victory this year. He also won the Kings Tournament on June 12 at Mt. Odin Golf Course. He qualified for the Western Pennsylvania Amateur Championship at Lake View Country Club in North East on June 24-25, shooting a 77 at the qualifier at Churchill Valley Country Club in Pittsburgh on June 11. The tournament is open to all amateurs, and Thomas expects to be the youngest player in the tournament.

This tournament extends his season even further, qualifying him for the CR Miller Match Play Championship at Allegheny Country Club on July 17 and 18. Today, he will take aim at qualifying for the USGA Junior Amateur Championship, playing in the qualifier at Grove City. He expects that he will have to shoot below par to qualify.

"Mainly I'm just going to have to work on getting some putts to fall," he said.

Matthew Rebitch, 13, of Delmont took the 13-and-younger division this season, shooting a 5-over 76.

He birdied the second hole, using a 7-wood to hit his second shot within 3 feet of the pin from 170 yards out. He sank a 15-foot putt to birdie the sixth, and a 13-footer for a birdie on the seventh hole. He started to run into trouble on the eighth hole, bogeying four of his next five holes, but he saved par on the next three, and though he bogeyed the last two holes he was never seriously challenged. Adam Hoffman of Pittsburgh finished second, shooting 80, but he never came within three shots of Rebitch on the back nine.

"I played respectable," Rebitch said. "I gave a lot of strokes away on the back nine, but other than that, I thought I was steady.

"I felt my irons and my approach shots were good, but my short game gave me a little trouble."

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