Matt Holuta captures Amateur Championship in playoff

Posted June 28, 2017 - 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



Matt Holuta with the W.C. Fownes Trophy after winning the 117th West Penn Amateur Championship

WESTMONT - Many times as a golf tournament enters the final round, much attention is focused on the last group of the day because that’s where the leaders are.

And there are times when that attention is misdirected and special things happen elsewhere on the course.

That was the case Tuesday as the final round of the 117th West Penn Amateur unfolded at Sunnehanna Country Club in Johnstown.

Sean Knapp, the 36-hole leader and Chuck Nettles, in second going into Tuesday, were the last group out and there was anticipation following that group as Knapp tried to capture his eighth West Penn Am title.

Meanwhile, three groups ahead Matt Holuta left the first tee four shots behind Knapp. As Knapp and Nettles put on a great show of golf on the front nine, Holuta steadily made his way around, posting a 33.

Little did he know that when he shot 35 on the back that would be good enough to get him into a playoff and eventually get his name on the West Penn Amateur trophy as the 2017 champion.

“I was checking out scoreboards where I could and I knew at one point I was two-under and Sean was five-under,” Holuta, who’ll be a senior at Rutgers this fall. “I was just playing to get into a playoff.”

Things got a little hairy on the back nine for Knapp, who had two bogeys and a double bogey and finished with a 39. Nettles had just one bogey and finished in a tie with Holuta.

It took three holes of playoff golf before Holuta was able to get past Nettles to win his first major title.

“This means a lot to me, especially when you look at that trophy and see all the legends of the game whose names are on it. Winning this is pretty special to me,” Holuta said.

Holuta made four birdies on Tuesday with only bogeys on 16 and 17 marring a solid round.

Knapp put a one-under par 34 on the front nine, but disaster struck quickly after. His 8-iron somehow flew the 165-yard 10th hole into a strong wind and had virtually no chance to make par from above the green that tilted away from him.

Double-bogey there was followed by settling for par on the gettable par-5 11th. And then misses of par putts on the 13th and 14th and Knapp’s hope for another title took a big hit.

“I made a lot of bogeys off good shots out there today,” said a frustrated and disappointed Knapp. “There were a couple drives that went through the fairway that were good shots. It was one of those days.”

Knapp, who finished at 73, had a chance to join Holuta and Nettles in the playoff, but the 15-18-foot birdie putt above the hole on 18 broke more left than he expected and he was a shot out.

Nettles made a key putt coming down the stretch that kept him in the playoff hunt. His tee shot on the par 3 16th found the edge of the green leaving him 15 feet or so for birdie.

“When I looked at that putt, I fell in love with the line I chose and didn’t hit it,” the lefthander said, having covered about half of the distance required to the hole. “To make that was a big thing.”

Holuta’s 68 was the only score in the final round under par. Seven of the 32 players who teed off didn’t break 80.