Upper St. Clair's Brown wins 3rd title at West Penn Amateur

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Fifty-four holes weren't enough to settle the 113th annual West Penn Amateur Golf Championship on Tuesday.

David Brown, a 52-year-old Upper St. Clair resident wearing a straw hat and playing without a caddie, walked back to the tee on Butler Country Club's 18th hole for a playoff after missing a putt that would have given him his third career title.

He was joined there by Belle Vernon's Bo Lustig, 20, a former Robert Morris golfer with the most muscular arms on the course.

Brown drove straight down the fairway and parred the hole. Lustig drove his tee shot onto the fairway of hole No. 1 but pitched over a tree and onto the green to save par.

On the second playoff hole, Lustig again drove onto the first fairway -- this time intentionally -- and put his approach about 5 feet from the pin. Brown's second shot stopped about 10 feet from the cup but with a more favorable path.

Brown remembered the first time he played the course nearly 40 years ago. He remembered the conversations he had with his father that day. He remembered his most recent tournament playoff, in a U.S. amateur qualifier last year. "Some college kid" beat him in an 11-hole marathon.

He stepped up and sank the putt.

Lustig's just missed.

Brown became the 2013 West Penn Amateur champion.

"It's fun to compete and it's fun to win," Brown said. "It feels good to hang in there [with the young guys] for 56 holes and be competitive."

Both players shot 1-under 209s through three rounds. Brown was in second after the first two rounds Monday and Lustig was in fourth.

Josh Stauffer, 19, of Bradford, led after two rounds but shot a 75 Tuesday to fall back into a tie for fourth. Sean Knapp, a seven-time champion, was third with a 210 while Spencer Mellon and Trent Karlik tied Stauffer's 213.

Although Brown had a longer putt on the second playoff hole, he said Lustig's was more difficult.

"When you're above that hole [where Lustig was], you're kind of on a hog's back and it's not a very comfortable feeling when you're up there," Brown said. "I'm a little farther away there but I had a much easier putt than he did. So I make, and he had a tough putt."

"I was only about 6 feet, 7 feet [away]," Lustig said. "Downhill, right-to-left. I played it about on the right edge but played it too firm and didn't give it time to move."

Brown's other two West Penn Amateur victories ended long winning streaks. In 2004, he broke Knapp's streak of six wins in a row, and in 2011 he stopped Nathan Smith's run of four.

Greg Podufal, who won the event last year, didn't make the cut.

With three career victories, Brown is now tied for eighth on the all-time West Penn Amateur wins list. The record is eight held by William C. Fownes, who won his between 1904-16.

Lustig does not go to school anymore and is considering turning pro.

"I know it's frowned upon these days," he said, but he has also seen friends finish college and not be able to find work.

"This is an eye-opener. I've always known my game was there to compete with anyone but I've actually put three solid rounds together and this was a big confidence boost for me

For Brown, even now as a three-time winner, he still isn't sure what the secret is.

"I don't know. Just practice."

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Nick Veronica: nveronica@post-gazette.com and Twitter @NickVeronica.


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