Hall of Fame Class of 2015 announced, 115th playing of the West Penn Amateur: From the desk of Mike Dudurich

Posted May 31, 2015 - By Mike Dudurich,
Freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich



Sean Knapp and Nathan Smith after their semi-final match in the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship

The WPGA has retained Mike Dudurich to write a blog for its website. The opinions and observations contained within are his own and do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the Association.

The West Penn Golf Association has announced the Class of 2015 for induction in the West Penn Golf Hall of Fame. Headlining the third class are Nathan Smith and Sean Knapp, two of the best amateurs in the country for the last couple decades and Doc Giffin, Arnold Palmer's long-time administrative assistant.

To be honored posthumously are Bobby Cruickshank, Sam Parks, Judy Oliver and Eben Byers.

Putting Smith and Knapp in at the same time was perfect. The two have teamed together so many times, won so many times, played 36 holes Saturdays and Sundays at St. Jude and have competed in so many USGA events, it seemed like a natural for them to go in at the same time.

"Yeah, I think it would have been pretty difficult if one of us had gotten in and the other didn't," Smith admitted. "Sean is one of my best friends, we've played so much together, rooted for each other and helped each other a lot. He just really pushed me over the top."

Knapp agreed.

"Nathan and I have talked and we've said that if we ever got it, we'd want to go in together," he said. "There was a time when he could go a whole summer and not beat me. And over all those years we've stayed competitive and stayed very good friends. Now I compare my game to Nathan's and hope that I can get fractionally close to his."

The Hall of Fame induction will take place on October 14 at Chartiers Country Club.

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In just about two weeks, the West Penn Amateur Championship will be contested at St. Clair Country Club. This will be the 115th playing of the event, making it one of the longest-running events anywhere. (By comparison, the British Open at St. Andrews in July will be the 144th and the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in a little more than three weeks will be the 115th).

There's no gem or piece of metal to signify 115 years, that I know of. But a nice way to celebrate that number will be the fact that the event will be played at St. Clair Country Club.

It will be the first time since 1945 the tournament will be held at the outstanding layout in the south hills of Pittsburgh.

Golf professional Jason Marciniec said there is plenty of excitement about hosting the West Penn Am again.

"The club is excited to host the championship," he said. "We are committed to doing our part in growing golf in Western Pennsylvania. We're looking forward to our course providing a good test for this field of players."

The event will be held June 8-9, with 36 holes the first day and 18 the second.

There has been plenty of interest in participating this year with 168 players signed up for qualifiers in an effort to secure one of the 52 spots available and 26 players entered under exempt status. The 194 entries is the highest number ever for a non-Oakmont Amateur. The average number is approximately 160.

Qualifiers will be held at four sites, Latrobe Elks GC, Hill Crest CC, Lake Shore CC (Erie) and Lone Pine CC to determine the qualifiers.

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Maybe Waynesburg native Rachel Rohanna is on to something.

The 24-year-old long driver won the Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay in April and came back with a t-3 finish last week in the Symetra Classic at Raintree Country Club in Charlotte, N.C.

She put up rounds of 69-68-67, missing a playoff by a shot.

Recent trends, however, seem to indicate she's got her game at place where she's about to make a serious run at earning an LPGA playing card for 2016.

Rohanna is diminutive in stature (5-2) but she can move the ball out there better than most on the Symetra Tour. She's fourth in driving distance at 266.65 yards and that would put here sixth on the LPGA Tour.

Even better for her is that she hits greens in regulation 72.9 percent of the time.

The combination of big drives and great accuracy into greens is one that could make her a lot of money.