When a golf team has one player shooting under par in a tournament, that's considered good.
When three members of the team achieve that feat, it makes that squad close to unbeatable.
That's what occurred Thursday at the WPIAL Class AAA team golf championships at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Rostraver when Upper St. Clair standout Grant Engel shot a 3-under-par 69 and senior teammates Thomas Steve and Patrick McDonnell shot matching 1-under 71s to lead the Panthers to the team championship with a 381 total, 30 strokes ahead of runner-up Fox Chapel's total of 411.
Central Catholic, the 2012 WPIAL Class AAA team champion, was third with 412.
"These five seniors have been in our top six since they were freshman," said Upper St. Clair coach Todd Flynn. "With Grant shooting a 69 today, I'm so proud of him. He had a chance to win the individual championship last week, but he came through this week. And it couldn't have worked out better."
Engel said he knew early that a good round was in store for him.
"I hit the ball well pretty much all day," he said. "My putter caught fire, and I made a couple of 15- to 20-foot putts. And I also made a 14-foot putt to save par on No. 14. That kick-started the round, and I birdied the next hole. Overall, it was a good round, and I was confident in my swing."
Engel said that playing on the front nine at the outset of the round worked well for him.
"It's kind of difficult at 10 a.m. when you're not totally warmed up," he said of the prospect of playing a front nine that features narrow fairways and small greens.
"You have to hit precise shots, but I think it separates who can come out and put up good scores and those who need 8 or 9 holes to warm up. On the back nine, you can spray some shots.
"I don't need to go to the range. I just stretched a bit, got on the first tee and I was ready to go."
Sewickley Academy dethroned defending Class AA champion Burgettstown.
On the strength of a 2-over 74 from Keenan Hickton and a stellar 77 from freshman Jason Li, the Panthers finished with 398 strokes; the Blue Devils had 408.
Penn-Trafford successfully defended its Class AAA girls team championship, but it wasn't easy. The Warriors got a clutch round of 79 from freshman Amanda Conner and shot 344, while North Allegheny -- which had one of three medalists with a 78 from sophomore Megan Leto -- finished at 348.
Among Class AA girls teams, the expected took place as defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AA champion Central Valley had three players shoot below 80, including a one-over-par 72 from sophomore medalist Madison McDanel, to win the team title with 310 strokes. Macky Fouse (76) and freshman Alex Bozich (78) also broke 80 for the Warriors. Sewickley Academy was second with 392.
Central Valley girls golf coach Larry Milosh has seen his team play very well both this season and last, and he was not surprised to see his team win the Class AA girls championship by 82 strokes.
"We've been averaging between 150 and 155 [for nine holes]" he said. "That's exactly what we shot today. And, we know they all can play, so [good scores] don't surprise us. Macky, Madison and Marissa Sudar have all been medalist in matches."
First Published October 10, 2013 8:24 PM