Five advance on the Road to Pebble Beach locally
By Mike Dudurich • May 14, 2019
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.
It shouldn’t have been all that surprising that the medalist in Monday’s U.S. Open First Stage qualifier would be a native of Montreal, Canada.
On a windy, cold and rainy day that made the Jack Nicklaus-designed course at The Club at Nevillewood a very unpleasant place to play golf, Raoul Menard shrugged off the conditions. The 27-year-old posted a 67, getting off to a roaring start with birdies at the second, third and fourth holes.
“Everything was pretty solid,” said Menard, who was never bitten by the hockey bug that is paramount north of the border. “I kept the ball in the fairway and that’s a key on a course as good as this one. All of the birdies I made today, the putts were inside of seven feet.”
Menard is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and is in his fourth year as a professional golfer, playing on the MacKenzie Tour in Canada and the PGA Tour Latino.
His connection with Pittsburgh is his girlfriend lives in Hermitage and he became interested in playing at Nevillewood once he heard one of the members there had a name he was familiar with, Mario Lemieux.
Oakmont Country Club professional Devin Gee, University of Minnesota golfer Evan Long and mini-tour player Beau Titsworth all posted two-under par 70s to round out the four golfers who will move on to U.S. Open sectional qualifying in a couple weeks.
“It was tough, long, wet and windy,” said Gee, who advanced into the sectionals for the second time. “But I played the best I’ve played in a long time today. I think I set a record for most (clothes) changes. I must’ve taken this (jacket) on and off 40 times out there.”
Long, whose dad, Ed, is co-owner of Quicksilver Golf Club in Midway and Castle Hills in New Castle, just returned home after completing his sophomore season with the Gophers. He played well at Nevillewood and hopes to build on that performance and the experience he gained last year when he advanced to sectionals.
“I can say it was very, very cool to go up to the practice range (at the Columbus, Ohio sectional) and see some of the big names I didn’t expect to see,” Long, a native of New Castle, said. “I was hitting balls next to Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott. That was one of the cooler days of golf I’ve ever had. I’d love to go back.”
Long is hoping to get back to Columbus in a couple weeks, but the USGA will make the final decision on that.
“There were little kids everywhere, throwing golf balls to them, signing stuff … You can’t beat that. You’re a 20-year-old college kid, you just can’t beat that. Kids are wanting your autograph and you’re handing them golf balls. I had two balls left with three holes to play. Talk about pressure.”
In an earlier qualifier, this one at Windber Country Club, Matt Nagy, a resident at Buena Vista, Ga., shot a four-under par 68 to grab the one spot available into the sectional round of qualifying.
Nagy’s grandfather, Joe Nagy, was the golf professional at Windber in the early 1980s and his whole family lives in the Indiana/Pittsburgh area.
Matt is a mini-tour player in Florida, mostly on the Florida Golf Tour.
“I just thought it would be cool to try to qualify on the course where my grandfather worked,” he said of his decision to play at Windber. “I played it for the first time a couple days before the qualifier and felt like the course set up well for me.”
And when he made birdies on 2, 4, 5 he said, “I had a feeling it was going to be a good day.”
Nagy played in the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and has played in the sectionals four times. Unfortunately, his grandfather passed away not long after the Open in 2009.
As he now prepares for this year’s sectional, he has a different outlook than 10 years ago.
“I’m confident. I’m a much better player than I was back then,” he said.
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.