Region's best golfers among West Penn Open leaders

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FARMINGTON, Pa. -- There were few surprises at the top of the leader board Monday after the first two rounds of the 54-hole West Penn Open at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort's Mystic Rock as the top four players are among the best in the area.

That should mean the final two groups to go off this morning for the third and final round should produce some intense competition, especially since the four are within two strokes of each other.

The co-leaders at 135 (9 under) are Greensburg's Ryan Sikora and Penn Trafford's Daniel Obremski. They are followed by Wexford's Mike Van Sickle (8 under) and Pittsburgh's Kevin Shields (7 under).

Golf Tips: Bunker shots from the short side of the green

Welcome back to a new season of golf tips, featuring the PG's Gerry Dulac. This week, he talks with Dan Braun, golf pro at Indiana Country Club, who offers tips on bunker shots from the short side of the green. (Video by Andrew Rush; 6/19/2013)

"There are a lot of good players in this, a couple of Furher [Invitational] winners. I see Sikora is up there, Shields [who has won the West Penn] is awesome," Obremski said. "Anytime you are competing with those guys, you are playing some really good golf."

Obremski said the challenge for him was that the course was set up to play a lot shorter than it was for the practice round, so it took some adjusting early in the first round.

Van Sickle said that his second round -- which included two eagles, five birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey -- was certainly not boring, but he knows he will need to play much more consistent in the third round to have a chance to win.

"If I could summarize my second round as a movie it would be 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,' " Van Sickle quipped. "For me [to win], it will be about eliminating mistakes. It seemed like every time I hit a bad shot I got penalized. I kept missing it in the wrong spots. I made a lot of mistakes so it is really just a matter of getting the most out of my round."

The previous time an amateur won the event was in 2008, and three have a chance to end that drought. Erie's Austin Romeo (5 under), Jeannette's Ronald DeNunzio (3 under) and Pittsburgh's Trent Karlik (1 under) are among the top eight heading into the final round.

Romeo, who shot 68 and 71, and the top four finishers were the only five to post a red number in both the morning and afternoon sessions. Sikora shot a 65 in the morning to post the low score of the day.

DeNunzio was tied with Romeo and only three shots off the lead after the morning round after a 4-under 68, but he shot a 1-over 73 in the afternoon to fall back.

Still, he is right in the mix and said that if he can get off to a good start in the third round and build some momentum early, he may be able to score well enough to have a shot to win.

"They moved a couple of the tees back this afternoon which made it a little tougher, but for the most part, I hit it good," DeNunzio said. "But I have a really good feel for the greens, I'm putting good, my speed is good and I play pretty good up here. I like this course. I'd say I need to shoot about 67 to have a chance.

"But I'd say this is one of the strongest fields we've had for this West Penn event, there are a lot of good players, all the pros and there are a lot of college kids playing. But I like the good competition."

DeNunzio, like most of the players, know that the course they will play in the third round today will be much tougher.

"I think [on Tuesday] they will have the course playing a lot longer, they can move some tees back a good bit," said Denunzio, who said he could see it being as much as 400 yards longer today. "It played a little bit short the first two rounds."

There were 33 players who made the cut, but one who didn't is three-time winner and defending champion Daniel Thompson, who was four strokes below the cut line of 149.

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Paul Zeise: and Twitter @paulzeise.


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