West Xtra: Montour teacher from West View shows his class on links

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Trent Karlik has qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship twice (in 2004 and 2009) and is a multiple winner at the Bob O'Connor Pittsburgh City Amateur Championship at Bob O'Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park as well as the Allegheny County golf championships at North Park and South Park.

But his best win may have come in June of this year.

Karlik shot a 7-under 206 to win the 114th West Penn Amateur Championship at Penn State. His three-round total was the third-best score in tournament history.

"It's probably the best win I've had," said Karlik, 35, a computer science teacher at Montour High School who lives in West View. "To have your name engraved on the trophy with some of the other players who have won -- Arnold Palmer, Dave Brown, Sean Knapp, Nathan Smith -- is such an honor."

After shooting a 2-under 69 on Penn State's White Course in the first round, Karlik took control on the Blue Course in the second round by firing a 5-under 66 to lead Greensburg's Arnie Cutrell by three strokes heading into the final round on the Blue Course.

Cutrell was able to cut the lead to two once on the front nine, but Karlik made three consecutive birdies on hole Nos. 5, 6 and 7 to open a big lead that never dropped below three the rest of the way.

"I hit my driver very long and very straight," Karlik said. "That enabled me to use a combo of my wedges -- I have a 52-degree, 56-degree and 60-degree. I was fortunate enough to dial in on a couple holes on the front nine on the Blue Course to get ahead."

It was the third top-10 finish in a row in the West Penn Amateur for Karlik, who plays a shorter schedule than many district amateurs.

Karlik, a Montour graduate, works at Montour from late August until mid-June. He usually doesn't hit much in the winter, but when the weather starts to warm to more than 45 degrees consistently in the spring, he'll start golfing every day after school until it lets out for the year, at which point his tournament schedule picks up.

He competed in the both the West Penn Amateur and West Penn Open, where he was the second-lowest amateur and finished 17th overall, as well as the Allegheny County Championships.

This week, he played at Oakmont at the Pennsylvania Amateur Championship.

But this offseason, he said he wants to put in more work, as he is expecting to compete for the first time in one of the top amateur tournaments in the country -- the Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions near Johnstown. The four-round tournament is by invitation only, and Karlik said his West Penn Amateur championship gives him an exemption to compete.

Former champions of the event include such past and current notable PGA Tour pros as Ben Crenshaw, Scott Verplank, Ricky Fowler and Webb Simpson. Tiger Woods played in the event twice, finishing in fifth in 1992 and tied for 12th in 1993.

So Karlik will be seen hitting more balls when the temperatures are below freezing, and one can expect to see him playing 18 every chance he can once the weather warms up to get ready for a big summer in 2015.

And those practice rounds will almost always be at North Park Golf Course.

"I like to say that North Park is my home course," Karlik said. "They've done a really good job narrowing the fairways, growing the rough -- just making it harder to drive accurately. The course has made me into the player I am today by forcing me hit straight drives."

Those straight drives helped him notch the biggest win of his career this summer.

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