East Xtra: West Penn Amateur eludes Cutrell once again

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Arnie Cutrell has won countless golf tournaments during his lifetime, but the 49-year-old Greensburg resident had never won the West Penn Amateur heading into the 114th edition of the event last week at Penn State Golf Course.

Heading into the final round down three strokes to Trent Karlik, Cutrell made a few runs at the Montour High School teacher, but Karlik never trailed over the final 18 on his way to a 7-under 206 total, four shots ahead of Cutrell.

Karlik's score was the third best in the tournament's history.

"I was happy with my finish, but I've never won the West Penn Amateur," Cutrell said. "I turn 50 years old in August, so I may not have many more cracks."

Cutrell, who toured in the early 1990s on what is now called the Nationwide Tour, opened the tournament on June 16 by shooting a 66 on the White Course and a 72 on the Blue Course to put him in second behind Karlik heading into the final round June 17, meaning the two would be paired for the final 18 on the Blue Course.

"I thought I needed to shoot 69 to have a shot," said Cutrell, who shot a 1-over 73 on the final 18 holes. "It was kind of match play scenario because the players behind us weren't all that close."

A bogey by Karlik on the fourth hole cut his lead to two shots, as Cutrell opened with four consecutive pars. But Karlik rebounded with three birdies in a row, while Cutrell bogeyed No. 5 and No. 8 to trail by six heading into the back nine.

Karlik had his only double-bogey of the tournament on No. 10, and when Cutrell sank a birdie on No. 13, the lead was back to three shots.

However, Cutrell found the water hazard on each of the next two holes to seal the win for Karlik.

"I just never got close enough," Cutrell said. "[Karlik] played really solid."

Cutrell is well accustomed to winning. During his career, some of the tournaments he has won include the West Penn Mid-Amateur (three times) the West Penn Open (once) and R. Jay Sigel Match Play State Championship (three times).

He won the Pennsylvania State Father-Son event in 2011 in Hershey with his son, also named Arnie, who was a junior at Hempfield High School at the time and currently goes to Penn State University. Cutrell said he values this championship the most.

But he also would like to win the elusive title at the West Penn Amateur before all is said and done.

"I've been playing it since my teens, so probably 25-30 times," Cutrell said. "I've finished second before and I'm mostly in the top 10. But Sean Knapp won six times in a row [from 1998-2003, and also won in 1988) and Nathan Smith won several times [four times in a row from 2007-2010]. Between those two, it's been pretty tough to crack into there."

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