Another first-time champion, Shipley wins Junior Championship
By Mike Dudurich • June 27, 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.
History will tell us the 99th West Penn Golf Association Junior Championship was exactly what might be expected when a talented field, tough but fair golf course, unpredictable weather and impending darkness come together.
In the end, Neal Shipley, a 2019 Pittsburgh Central Catholic graduate and a freshman-to-be at James Madison University, rolled in a 6-foot par putt to beat Greater Latrobe grad and freshman-to-be at Penn State, Brady Pevarnik, on what they agreed was the last hole they could play that day.
“I made a real good putt in the dark,” Shipley laughed.
Shipley made a lot of good putts on this long day, both in the daylight and the near-darkness. And that turned out to be the difference at Westmoreland Country Club.
While Shipley was making putts from just about everywhere, Pevarnik was struggling with his balky putter.
“I hit it really well in that first round but I missed between seven and 10 putts inside of 10 feet,” Pevarnik said. “I kept hitting good shots and not making anything. That’s how I shot even in the first round.”
Shipley, on the other hand, was also hitting his iron approaches well. But he was making his putts, leaving himself below the hole on most occasions.
“The putting was fantastic,” Shipley said. “I put the ball where I could be safe and it worked out well.”
It worked out to a 68 for Shipley, giving himself a three-shot advantage over Pevarnik after the first round.
The afternoon round contained plenty of fireworks, both on the course and in the skies.
A threatening forecast hung over the championship and when dangerous weather forced a suspension of play for an hour the delay put the conclusion of play in doubt all the way until the final shot was hit.
When the delay hit at 2:31, Pevarnik was struggling on his second round, having just bogeyed his second hole of the final round. During the hour-long delay, something clicked for Pevarnik and he proceeded to play the final 16 holes 6-under par to finish at 5-under par.
“Brady is a great player and one of the few guys who could shoot 4-under on a nine and get back into it,” Shipley said.
Pevarnik posted a 66 in the final round and Shipley a 69 and they were off to a playoff. After halving the first two holes, Pevarnik’s approach shot on the third hole flew the green and he couldn’t get up and down for par while Shipley did.
“It’s my first WPGA title and with the history of the association, the great amateurs and pros who have competed over the years, it’s really a great honor,” Shipley said. “To have my name on the same trophy as Arnold Palmer, well there aren’t a lot of people who can say that. It’s awesome.”
Shipley earned an exemption into the West Penn Am in 2020 and 2021. The top 3 finishers – including Adam Lauer of Fox Chapel Golf Club – gained an invitation into the C.R. Miller Memorial Junior Match Play Invitational.
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.