Central Catholic's Brent Rodgers claimed the WPIAL Class AAA individual crown by one stroke Wednesday at Fox Chapel Golf Club, edging out Indiana's Matt Holuta with an even-par 70.
Rodgers used his power to give him shorter approach shots to Fox Chapel's notoriously protected greens. When most of the field was hitting 8- or 9-irons, according to Rodgers, he was hitting wedges, which allowed him to make more accurate shots.
"I put myself anywhere from 20 feet and in most of the time, so it gave me easy two-putts. I got lucky and made one or two here and there [in one putt], and I was glad about that," said Rodgers, who followed a 1-over 36 on the front with a 1-under 34 on the back.
The conditions also were conducive to Rodgers' game. While the greens at Fox Chapel were predictably fast, rain on Tuesday softened them. The key, though, was that he was accurate enough off the tee to leave himself with short approach shots from the fairway.
The turning point for Rodgers came with a par on the par-4 13th. After hitting his drive into the trees on the left, his second shot was knocked straight down by a tree. From there, he hit a pitching wedge to the front of the green. He chipped in, which renewed his confidence heading into the final five holes.
"That's when I realized, 'You know what, I'm still in this thing,'" he said.
Holuta also had trouble on 13, but was unable to save par. He double-bogeyed the hole, and although he responded with consecutive birdies on 14 and 15, the slip-up ultimately cost him.
"I missed the green in a bunker and I was above the hole, which are two things I didn't want to do," Holuta said. "The bunkers are really difficult. Anytime you get in them, it's a stroke penalty. You just have to get it out of them."
Rounding out the top five were Thomas Steve from Upper St. Clair (72) followed by Chad Kissell (74) and Will Wears (74) from Latrobe.
The top 14 players advanced to the PIAA Western regional, Oct. 15 at Tom's Run Golf Course at Chestnut Ridge Golf Resort in Blairsville, Pa.
The WPIAL ruled Elijah Minnie, a 6-foot-8 forward and one of the top junior basketball players in Western Pennsylvania, ineligible to play this season at Lincoln Park. After a hearing with Minnie and school officials Wednesday, the WPIAL ruled Minnie is attending Lincoln Park for athletic reasons, which is against WPIAL and PIAA rules. Minnie played at Monessen as a freshman but as a sophomore was sent to Summit Academy, a school for adjudicated youth. After being released from Summit Academy, Minnie enrolled at Lincoln Park.
Also Wednesday, the WPIAL ruled Malik Walker eligible to play basketball again at Ambridge. Walker left Ambridge after last season, transferred to Lincoln Park, and then enrolled again at Ambridge for this school year.
The WPIAL also ruled Maverick Rowan eligible for sports at Lincoln Park.
The Thomas Jefferson school board voted to open Rich Krivanek's position as baseball coach. Thomas Jefferson made it to the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals last season.hsother