Knapp and Erickson repeat in Senior Amateur Championships
By Mike Dudurich • October 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.
There’s a West Penn Golf Association championship that Sean Knapp has only won twice, a puny number compared to the number of victories he’s had in some other of the WPGA’s major events.
Of course, he’s only played in the WPGA Senior Amateur twice.
Knapp dominated the 88th Senior Amateur at The Kahkwa Club in Erie, the only player to finish under par after 36 holes. He posted rounds of 70-70—140.
He pointed out that he only led by three shots over Bob Cmarjich of Diamond Run and Mike Capotis of Kahkwa after the first round and that he wasn’t able to do much to expand that lead until later in the second round.
“When we finally got to the last six holes, I was surging and they were having difficulties,” Knapp said. “But a course setup like that gave everybody difficulties.”
Indeed. Knapp made three birdies coming in while his closest competitors combined for two.
The Kahkwa layout played fast and hard and the greens were difficult, not to mention very fast, creating nervy situations when the players got putters in their hands.
“For me, it felt like a game right out of the gate,” Knapp, who has won over 40 WPGA titles, said. “If there was a turning point, it had to be the fifth, sixth and seventh holes. I parred those three and Bob and Mike didn’t.”
Cmarjich and Capotis finished with 149 scores.
Knapp has had considerable success at the Erie course, winning his first West Penn Am there in 1998, which started his string of six straight wins in that event. He also finished fifth in 1987 and 10th in 2012.
“Yeah, I’ve played numerous events there,” he said. “It’s not the most difficult layout I’ve seen, but this year they had brutally firm greens, the pins were tough and it was windy. Pretty much everything you’d want.”
In the Super-Senior part of the event, Indiana Country Club’s Don Erickson had a much tougher time winning his second Super-Senior Amateur. He also won the Senior Amateur in 2007 at Willowbrook Country Club.
He posted rounds of 72 and 70, good for a one-shot victory over Bob Paris, who won the 2010 Senior Amateur at Lake View Country Club.
“I had my share of good luck the last couple days and I needed all of it,” Erickson said. “I got off to a quick start on Monday, made a birdie on one, holed a second shot on two and made a birdie putt from 10 feet on three. I’ve never had a start like that.”
He continued to hit good shots, get some good breaks and showed good nerves throughout the final round, including knocking in a tricky downhill two-footer to seal the deal.
“The last couple weeks I’ve played the best I have all year,” Erickson said. “This was very satisfying.”
Especially for a guy who is facing carpal tunnel surgery in both of his hands over the next few weeks.
“The doctors tell me it’s the repetitive motion of the golf swing that caught up with me,” he said.
Erickson has been playing WPGA events for 35 or 36 years and has played in a fair share of USGA events as well. He relayed an interesting and funny story about how he got his start in WPGA events.
“I couldn’t play in Pennsylvania golf events because the club I belonged to (Dubois Country Club} wasn’t a member of the Pa. Association,” Erickson said. “I had to make a personal donation ($100) to be able to play in those and I won the State Am right after I made the donation in 1988.”
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.