Gunnar Riley has enjoyed a solid career playing for the Charleroi Area High School Cougars.
He just wishes he would have been able to replay a crucial second shot that he executed on the par-4, 398-yard No. 10 hole on Sept. 25 at Sewickley Heights Country Club at the WPIAL Class AA Boys Individual Golf Championships.
Riley, who was tied with defending WPIAL champion Matt Barto of Leechburg after both shot 3-over-par rounds of 75, learned he would be playing some bonus golf, and it wasn't long before both teed off.
"Hitting fairways definitely helped [my score]," Riley said. "I didn't hit driver as much as I did [in a practice round], but did hit a bunch of 3-woods and 4-irons off the tee, which put me into play. Whenever I got [on the fairway], I just went for the greens, and I was hitting the spots where I needed to. Some of those pins were tricky, and I just wanted to get on the green and make some putts."
In the playoff, both Barto and Riley drove well off the 10th tee. During regulation play, both had parred the hole, so a second playoff hole was a distinct possibility. But their respective second shots decided this playoff before it had a chance to get some age.
While Barto was sticking his 52-degree wedge shot from 118 yards to within 7 feet of the pin, Riley's effort from a similar distance sailed over the green and landed about 10 feet beyond the fringe in the rough.
Riley chipped onto the green to within 10 feet of the cup, but his difficult, downhill putt for par slid past the cup, and he was forced to hit an uphill putt, which he converted for a bogey. Needing two putts to secure his second WPIAL title in a row, Barto only needed one as his birdie putt was firmly struck into the hole.
Both will be competing at the PIAA Class AA Western Regional on Oct. 16 at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville.
Serra player finishes strong
Nerves have a way of creeping into a golfer's performance, no matter how experienced he might be.
Serra Catholic senior Max Kaminsky had that painful experience as he placed sixth with a score of 79 at the WPIAL Class AA Boys Individual Championships on Sept. 25 at Sewickley Heights Golf Club.
Kaminsky, a White Oak resident, started his day with bogeys on the first two holes, and he picked up a third bogey on the fifth hole. Throughout the day, Kaminsky was hitting short of the green on many approaches.
"There were some nerves, and I was lifting my head up sometimes," he said.
Another bogey on the seventh hole and a double-bogey on the ninth forged the way for a forgettable 43 on the front nine.
No one knew that better than Kaminsky, who shot even-par 36 on the back nine, and will travel to Blairsville for the PIAA Class AA Western Regional on Oct. 16.
"I'm so relieved that I shot in the 70s after that front nine," he said. "That's the first time I'd shot in the 40s all year [for nine holes]. On the back nine, I told myself that I had to start fresh."