A view of Oakmont Country Club from the 10th tee

Olsakovsky and Grube share lead in Amateur Championship
By Mike Dudurich • July 2, 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.

OAKMONT – Unlike Bethpage Black, there isn’t a sign behind the first tee at Oakmont Country Club that says, “This course is extremely difficult which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers.”

Maybe it should.

Monday dawned with bright skies, the promise of some heavy heat later in the day and a golf course that was loaded for bear. Or in this case, loaded for the first round of the 119th West Penn Amateur Championship.

And after Day One of the event, the scoreboard showed: Course 1, Players 0.

“It was tough out there,“ said Louis Olsakovsky, who enters today’s second round tied with Kyle Grube at even par. “And if you missed fairways, you have to go on the defensive just about every hole. That’s what this course does to you. It wasn’t too bad, certainly not as bad as it could be.”

Olsakovsky made four bogeys and four birdies, one of which illustrates how OCC was playing on Monday. His tee shot on the 462-yard, downhill 10th hole was a 3-iron that hit the ground, bounded forwarded and left him with a downhill approach shot of 164 yards that he covered with a pitching wedge, leading to a birdie.

“The course was starting to get pretty firm,” he said. “They were putting water down all over the course to keep it playable.”

Palmer Jackson, who’ll be playing college golf at Notre Dame in another month, posted a one-over par 72, thanks to a pair of great saves on 17 and 18 that could have been much worse. Wayward tee shots on both holes led to his difficulties. He scrambled me to make bogey on 17 and came from well right of the fairway bunkers on the right of 18 to make a miracle par.

“Oh yeah, those could have been much worse,” he said.

Five players were at two-over par by nightfall Monday, two of them in the same group. Adam Hoffman and Chuck Nettles were joined by Jackson in their group. Jeff Varga, Mark Goetz and Nathan Sutherland were the others at 2-over.

Just how tough was one of the best layouts in the world on this day?

Nobody broke par.

Twenty-six players finished at least 10 over par.

Goetz has a simple goal for his next two rounds.

“I just want to hang around and hope to get myself into some good spot on Wednesday,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy, especially here. It can get to be a situation where it’s very defensive out there. A lot of times, a 15-20 foot putt might be the best look out there. It’s going to be far from perfect.”

There won’t be a defending champion in the event after Sean Knapp was forced to withdraw early Monday morning due to a left elbow injury.

“I hit a lot of golf balls last week at the U.S. Senior Open and started having a little pain,” Knapp said Monday afternoon. “This morning I not only had the pain, but my elbow was very swollen. I could barely extend it. I tried hitting some chips and pitches and once I got up to about 60 yards that was it.”

He believes it to be a serious tennis elbow.

Today’s tee times begin at 8 a.m. off the first and 10th tees.

At the conclusion of the round, the field will be cut to the low 32 and ties for Wednesday’s final round.

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.