Team WPGA captures first Williamson Cup title by 11 shots
By Mike Dudurich • August 9, 2017
Mike is a freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich.
FOX CHAPEL – There were audible sighs coming from each of the West Penn Golf Association’s four players who competed in the 54th Williamson Cup matches Tuesday at the Pittsburgh Field Club.
Those sighs could have been analyzed a couple different ways. They could have been a result of playing 36 holes in a tough regional competition on a very difficult course set-up in a way that local professional golfers would have been tested.
No, that wasn’t it.
It could have been the sighs were expressions of anticipation for the post-match barbeque and celebration.
No, that wasn’t it, either.
Those sighs were the expressions of four young men accomplishing something that had never been done previously by a WPGA team.
Mark Goetz, Palmer Jackson, Louis Olsakovsky and Brady Pevarnik combined to win the Williamson Cup matches for the first time ever. The WPGA team won by 11 shots over the Golf Association of Philadelphia, 425-436.
WPGA took advantage of the home-course edge and was the only team out of 11 in the event to finish under par. Scoring for the Williamson Cup was based on the best three scores of four being used each round for the team total.
“When I was out there today, I really didn’t think much about the whole winning thing,” said Jackson, the medalist on the WPGA team with rounds of 71-69. “But the fact that we won was just awesome.”
Jackson, who’ll be a junior at Franklin Regional High School in a couple weeks, received another perk of being the medalist when John Yerger, the co-chairman of the Sunnehanna Amateur championship at Sunnehanna Country Club, announced that the medalist of the WPGA team would get an invitation into the 2018 Amateur.
“That’s really cool,” Jackson said after his spot as medalist on the team was confirmed. “Sunnehanna is really a special event and that will be great.”
All four players said there had been discussion prior to the start of the matches about the fact they hadn’t won, but none of them said the burden of the streak weighed heavily on them.
Pevarnik, who’ll be a junior at Greater Latrobe later this month, offered an interesting perspective.
“Maybe this time there was a little pressure because we hadn’t won and we were hosting, but we handled that pressure,” he said. “Winning is really huge, not just for us, but it kind of shows what I’ve been telling people for a while, just how good junior golf is in Western Pennsylvania. Realistically, we could win this thing three years in a row. It’s possible.”
Heady stuff for a team that just won for the first time, but with Pevarnik and Jackson leading next year’s team, the WPGA will definitely be a favorite when the same teams converge at St. Clair Country Club.
The local quartet served notice in the morning round when Jackson and Goetz, a soon-to-be freshman at West Virginia University, posted 71s, Olsakovsky 74 and Pevarnik 76. That gave them a 216 total and a four-shot lead.
They got even better in the afternoon when WPGA totaled 209 with Jackson and Olsakovsky putting up rounds of 69 and 67, respectively. Goetz had 73 and Pevarnik 74.
“We knew we were the favorites and that can be good or bad,” said Goetz. “I tried to get as much as I could out of Palmer and Brady, the two young guys. The win was huge, especially when you do it with these guys, three of my best friends.”
Olsakovsky, an incoming freshman at Allegheny College, had the shot of the day, holing his second shot from 100 yards on the 418-yard, par-four ninth hole in the afternoon round. He said he hit a half, 54-degree wedge that landed about 10 feet above the cup and spun in.
“We all expected that we could win because we were confident in each other,” he said. “I think the win showed the depth we had this year. It was pretty cool.”
WPGA Executive Director Terry Teasdale was smiling broadly as the afternoon wore on.
“This is huge for us, but most importantly it’s huge for our team,” he said. “They know each other, they’ve played golf with each other a lot and hopefully they will continue to play together the rest of their lives.”
As the team savored the victory, they took time to show their appreciation for being able to participate in an event like this.
“We, as a team, want to thank Mr. (Frank) Fuhrer for all he’s done for us and we know this event wouldn’t be what it is without his help,” Goetz said. “We owe him a great deal.”
About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and 33,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund.