Perry Graciano captures 2015 West Penn Senior Amateur Championship

Posted May 27, 2015 - By Mike Dudurich,
Freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM
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2015 Junior Champion, Jason Li

BUTLER ñ There was plenty of talent in the field of the 95th West Penn Junior Championship at Butler Country Club. And in a championship like that, the winner is normally the player who has had big tournament experience and has won a big event. Say hello to Jason Li. The 16-year-old, a member of Diamond Run Golf Club, posted rounds of 74-75 to win by a shot over Mark Goetz of Greensburg and by two over Brady Pevarnik of Latrobe. Li will be a junior at Sewickley Academy in a couple months and when he starts playing high school golf, heíll do so as the defending PIAA Class AA individual champion. His name will go on the championship trophy with the likes of Arnold Palmer (1947 and 1948), Sam Parks (1926), Fred Brand (1927), Butlerís own Jim Simons (1966) and William Miller, who won three straight Juniors from 2003-2005. Liís day was definitely not a walk through the parkland Butler CC layout, although he started by parring his way through the front nine and adding three more to start the back. Then he bogeyed three of the next five to shoot 74. He started his second 18 holes of the day on the back nine and, after parring the first two, he bogeyed four straight holes and shot 40. Li was even on the front and shot 75. ìI donít know why, but I just have a tougher time on that back nine,î he said. ìBut I was proud of myself because I worked hard to keep looking at the next shot and forget about the shots I had already hit. The thing about golf is you show up at the golf course with whatever you have that day. And you have to make that fit whatís happening that day. You canít be fixing something during the round.î Liís victory qualifies him for the West Penn Amateur for the next two years. Goetz and Kyle Grube of Indiana had the lowest rounds of the championship, shooting 73 in the morning. Goetz, however, doubled the first and the last holes in the afternoon and added four bogeys to finish with a 77. Grube made seven bogeys and a triple in the afternoon for an 80. Pevarnik, Latrobeís 14-year-old phenom, shot 76-75, but wasnít necessarily pleased, even with a third-place finish. ìI was a little better in the second round, but missed a lot of short putts all day,î he said. ìBut I also made a couple longer ones, so I guess it evened out. It just wasnít my day.î There were no players who finished under par on Monday at Butler. As a matter of fact, there were only 38 players who were able to post rounds in the 70ís. The top five players and ties qualify for the WPGAís C.R. Miller Memorial Match Play Invitational, an event that fields the top 16 junior golfers in our area. Those qualifiers include: Li, Mark Goetz of Greensburg, Brady Pevarnik of Latrobe, Christian Evanchec of Saxonburg; Nic Leone of Butler, Evan Long of New Castle, Jeremy Eckenrode of Ebensburg; and Kyle Grube of Indiana.