Advancing in professional golf

Posted November 28, 2016 - Western Pennsylvania Golf Association - Contact

Steve Wheatcroft during Sectional Qualifying for the 2017 U.S. Open. Photo courtesy of USGA.

No area golfer has qualified for either the PGA Tour or Tour in the last fifteen years except for Greensburg’s Rocco Mediate and Washington native Steve Wheatcroft.

Mediate won six titles on the PGA Tour where he was exempt until 2012. Since 2013, he has played on the Champions Tour and won three times including this year’s Senior PGA Championship, his first major.

In 2017, Wheatcroft will divide time between the PGA and Tours after finishing 134th in the FedExCup rankings on the PGA Tour in 2015-16 with over $600,000 in earnings. Wheatcroft retains some PGA Tour status by finishing 126-150 on last year’s money list. He has played in two events this new season and recorded t-29 in the Sanderson Farms Championship, Jackson, Miss., October 24-27. Wheatcroft won the 2004 West Penn Open Championship.

The Tour’s schedule begins in late January where Wheatcroft began playing regularly in 2006. He has played in 134 PGA Tour and 139 Tour events in his career and has earned just over $3.3 million. He retained his PGA Tour card for the first time after finishing 102nd on the 2014-15 money list with just over a million dollars. Wheatcroft has won two tournaments and finished second in one PGA Tour event.

Mike VanSickle, Gibsonia, won the Pennsylvania Open 2007 and 2008 and the West Penn Open in 2013 and 2015. A standout at Marquette University, he qualified for his first U.S. Open last year at Oakmont Country Club but missed the cut. He missed qualifying in 2016 qualifying in the finals after a strong opening two rounds. In 2017 Tour qualifying, he missed the cut in the first stage by nine strokes at Arbor Links, Nebraska City, Neb., October 4-7, after recording 76-70-75-71–292. He is now attempting Monday qualifying for both tours. VanSickle has recently missed by one stroke at PGA Tour stops in Las Vegas and Jackson, Miss.

Waynesburg’s Robert Rohanna won the Pennsylvania Open in 2011 and 2016. The Penn State star came close to winning this year’s West Penn Open after a second shot came to rest less than a foot out of bounds on the final hole derailed his chances. He has enjoyed success on the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica. This season he is 26th on the money list with just over $30,000. In this fall’s first stage of qualifying, his final round 65 at Grasslands GC, Lakeland, Fla., October 4-6, left him one stroke short of advancing to the second stage with scores of 71-72-73-65—281.

Bobby MacWhinnie, Charlotte, won the Association’s 1997 Boys Championship and Junior Championship in 1999 and 2000. He was the only player with area roots to advance through the first round of qualifying. His 72-70-69-74—285 made the cut line at The Tournament Course, Woodlands, Texas, October 11-14. In the second stage at Southern Hills Plantation GC, Brookville, Fla., November 8-11, he missed the cut with 74-76-68-71—289, short of the qualifying score by seven strokes.

Others who also competed in the first stage for were Matt Gurska, Hermitage, Dan Obremski, Irwin; Jon Popeck, Washington, and Sean Brannan, Hollidaysburg. Obremski did the best among this group, missing the cut by four strokes at The Breakers Rees Jones Course, West Palm Beach, Fla, October 12-14. All four have had success at the local, national or collegiate level.