WPGA championship season to start May 2: From the desk of Mike Dudurich

Posted April 19, 2016 - 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

Seven-time and defending Spring Stroke Play champion, Nathan Smith

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.

What promises to be to be an exciting summer of golf in Western Pennsylvania gets underway next week with the 23rd playing of the Spring Stroke Play Championship at St. Clair Country Club on May 2.

The 36-hole kickoff to the West Penn Golf Association's season's has become one of the most popular amateur events in the area and this season's field will be one of the strongest ever.

Star-studded would be a good way to describe the field. Six-time winner Nathan Smith, three-time champion Sean Knapp and two-time winner Rick Stimmel are the headliners.

In addition to that trio, there is plenty of talent throughout the field from juniors to seniors.

Fourteen players age 18 and under will play, including Brady Pevarnik, the WPGA's 2015 Junior Player of the Year. The past two WPIAL champions, Anthony Cordaro and Hunter Bruce and the PIAA champion of two years ago, Grant Engel, are also entered.

Five college players will compete, a number that would have been 15 if the championship had been played a week later.

At the other end of the age spectrum is a senior like Paul Schlachter and near seniors like David Brown and Arnie Cutrell, all of whom show winning ways.

All but two West Penn Amateur champions from the last 15 years are in the field with exception of Easton Renwick and Greg Podufal.

It should come as no surprise that Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, holds the scoring record in the Spring Stroke Play Championship. In 2009 at Williams Country Club at Williams Country Club in Weirton, W.Va., Smith fired rounds of 68 and 66 for a 134 total.

Two-time Spring Stroke Play champion, Rick Stimmel

The United States Golf Association held its U.S. Open Media Day at Oakmont Country Club this week to give a jump-start to the road to the U.S. Open June 16-19.

In Western Pennsylvania, the journey on that road begins May 12 when the first of three local qualifiers will be held at Butler Country Club. The second will be held the Club at Nevillewood on May 16 and the third at Scotch Valley Country Club May 18.

Normally, the area gets two local qualifiers, but because of the considerable interest in taking a shot at playing in the Open at Oakmont, a third was added.

Waynesburg native Rachel Rohanna will receive a big honor in June when she is inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame. She was a two-time WPIAL and PIAA champion in high school, and an academic All-American at Ohio State.

After competing on the Symetra Tour, Rohanna qualified for the LPGA Tour this year and has competed in seven events thus far, earning over $24,000.