Through three playoff holes, neither Corey Long nor Matt Holuta would crack. Par, par, par.
Then the big dog came out and Long ended up the top dog.
Long, a senior at South Fayette, won the WPIAL Class AAA championship, beating Holuta on the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff Wednesday at Diamond Run Golf Club in Ohio Township. The playoff came after the duo tied for first with scores of 3-under 67 on the 6,591-yard course.
On the fourth hole of the playoff, Long and Indiana's Holuta had to hit chip shots and also putt while a large black dog repeatedly barked loudly from a home near the green.
"I definitely heard that dog and I was trying to figure out where it was," Long said with a laugh. "When you're in that position, you try not to think about a dog barking. But when I was lining up my first putt, I kept looking to see where that dog was coming from."
In the playoff, Holuta left the door open for Long when he triple bogeyed the par 4 453-yard fourth hole. Long didn't exactly come bursting through the door as he won with a bogey-5. He is the first WPIAL golf champion from South Fayette.
The playoff started at the first hole. Holuta had seven birdies in the round of 18. But on his second shot on the fourth playoff hole, he bladed a 6-iron that went into a hazard of high weeds and rocks in front of the green. He took a penalty stroke, hit onto the back of the green, and then three-putted.
"I like re-gripped the club on my back swing for whatever reason," Holuta said of his errant shot on the fourth playoff hole. "It was just a bad swing and it happened at an unfortunate time."
Long hit his second shot about 3 yards off the green. But he smacked a chip shot 30 feet past the hole before a putt put him 3 feet away. He sank his putt for a bogey.
Long had a strong finish in regulation, making birdies on 15, 16 and 17. But he never would have gotten to the playoff if he hadn't come through with a chip and a one-putt for par on the 18th.
"To know I beat the best players in the WPIAL sure feels good," Long said. "I guess I always knew I was one of the better players, but I never really took advantage of it or proved myself. This was kind of the culmination of a lot of hard work and all the work paid off."
It was the second year in a row Holuta finished second. He lost by one stroke a year ago to Central Catholic's Brent Rodgers.
"I hit the ball well all day," Holuta said. "Even in the playoff, I hit the ball well, except one shot. Obviously, it would be nice to win the WPIAL championship but what you want is a state championship."
Long, Holuta and 12 other golfers move on to the PIAA regional Oct. 16 at Tom's Run in Blairsville. The PIAA championships are Oct. 21-22 in York, Pa.
Two Upper St. Clair golfers tied for third Wednesday with 68s -- senior Thomas Steve and senior Grant Engel. Steve bogeyed the 18th hole or he would've also been part of the playoff.
Engel had an eagle on the par 5 17th, the only eagle of the day among the 36 golfers.
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: email@example.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published October 3, 2013 4:00 AM