It's in the genes for Latrobe's Wears
Will Wears of Greater Latrobe High School finished 15th in the PIAA championship tournament. Wears is a grandson of golfing legend Arnold Palmer.
Share with others:
Will Wears regularly travels around the country to play in some national-caliber junior golf tournaments, be they part of the International Junior Golf Tour, the Future Collegians World Tour, the American Junior Golf Association or others.
But Wears, a sophomore at Greater Latrobe High School, said that nothing quite matches the experience of qualifying for and participating in the PIAA boys' golf championships.
"I can't say enough about how good this tournament is," Wears said. "It's as good as any tournament in the country, certainly against any other state's tournament. Without a doubt, and you'll hear that anywhere.
"With the quality of players and the difficulty just to get to it, there's no question that this is as good a tournament as I play in, and I look forward to it as much as I do playing in any tournament."
Wears shot a 7-over-par 149 over two days of the two-round PIAA championship Monday and Tuesday at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.
That placed him in a tie for 15th among a field of the state's top 48 high school golfers.
The performance in York was the culmination of a postseason for Wears that had him the low scorer for the Wildcats' WPIAL runner-up team, place in a tie for ninth at the WPIAL individual championships and in 12th at the PIAA Western Regional earlier this month.
"It's a tough, grueling process just to get to that point," Latrobe coach Scott Reaugh said of the PIAA finals. "We talked about it on the drive home that I think his game is right there with the best of them in the state.
"Next year and the year after, I think our goal is to be in that final pairing on Tuesday, to be there and have a shot to win it all."
Wears, who last season was among the top 11 in the WPIAL and part of a WPIAL championship team as a freshman, is among the longest hitters in the state for a player his age.
Strong from tee to green, like most golfers, he strives to improve his putting to lower significantly his average score, which was in the 36-37 range this season per nine-hole round for Latrobe.
Wears shot 75-74, leaving him just three shots behind his goal of placing in the top 10.
"He had just a couple bad swings that cost him," Reaugh said. "Overall, he played well enough to shoot 72 or maybe even 71, but that's a learning experience for him."
Wears has a resource in his family who has as much experience as anyone on the planet -- his grandfather is Arnold Palmer.
Wears has said he has been given invaluable instruction from Saint Vincent College coach Dr. Thomas Cline (a former PIAA champion himself).
He also is afforded the unique opportunity to be able to regularly pick the brain of the most famous PIAA champion of all, Palmer.
Reaugh said Wears often speaks with Palmer by phone after rounds.
"My grandpa is a big influence," Wears said. "He has had experiences that it really doesn't get any better than that and can't be taken for granted, so there's a lot to be learned from him.
"Dr. Cline, he's a great player -- one of the best ball strikers I have ever met. He helps me with the mental approach to the game -- he has a psychology degree."
Wears was Latrobe's low scorer this season, but the Wildcats' lineup was much deeper than just him. Senior Dylan Marshall, junior Ryan Staffen, senior Dan Bucci, sophomore Ben Biss and junior Cam Roth also were starters.
"We want to make another run at [WPIAL and PIAA titles] next season," Wears said.
For his immediate plans, Wears is heading to Durham, N.C., Nov. 27-28 for a Future Collegian World Tour event at Duke University, then to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for another junior tournament.
"I want to get ready for those, but I've got a little time off before that," Wears said.
"Then again, I say I will take time off, but I'll probably be back practicing within the next week, trying to get better and better."
First Published October 29, 2010 12:00 am