Connor Schmidt takes one-stroke lead into final round
By Mike Dudurich • August 24, 2020
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.
SEWICKLEY – There was a lot of speed on display over the weekend as a doubleheader of NASCAR races and the Indy 500 were contested.
There was also a great deal of power on display in Norton, Mass. where Dustin Johnson put on a show of power golf and hot putting to decimate the TPC of Boston in winning the Northern Trust with a ridiculous score of 30-under par.
Today in the final group of the 120th West Penn Amateur at Allegheny Country Club the power game will be on display again.
Connor Schmidt, the defending champion in the West Penn Am, and Darin Kowalski are in the final group and both are really good at launching balls long distances.
Schmidt leads the event at 4-under par and Kowalski is tied with Kevin Fajt of Hannastown Golf Club at 3-under.
“I’ve never played with Connor but I’ve heard about his game,” said Kowalski, who won the South Hills Country Club Championship on Sunday and continued his strong play Monday. “I played with Dave Brown today and I guess I’ll know what he felt all day because I was hitting it past 30 or 40 yards past him.”
Both players made six birdies on the immaculate playing surface at Allegheny CC, the difference being Schmidt made two bogeys while Kowalski made three.
“I thought I played pretty well,” Schmidt said, who’ll be returning to Drexel University to take advantage of the extra year offered by the NCAA for those affected by fall sports being cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schmidt said he wasn’t all that happy with his iron play, especially his short irons.
“My putter cleaned up for a lot of my iron shots today,” he said. “My goal will be to get that squared away before tomorrow. I saw the front nine here about six years ago but had never seen the back nine until today. It is a great place.”
He also said he played with two drivers Monday.
“I’ve had one that I used for a few years and I’m comfortable with what I get from it,” Schmidt said. “This new one that I got about four days ago goes about 20 yards longer. I use the older one on holes that look tight to me, like 1 and 12. I was just going out today and tried to play like DJ out there.”
For Kowalski, the last few days have been a bit busy at SHCC.
“We played 18 holes Friday, 36 Saturday and 36 Sunday. Then right out here this morning for another 18,” he said.
The Bethel Park resident has had some success in the West Penn Am, but none more memorable than a few years ago at Bedford Springs.
“I had rounds of 68 and 66 to start out, but didn’t play well in the third round and shot 74,” he said. “I look at that as a learning experience and I will have redemption on my mind tomorrow.”
Only 6 players finished under par Monday. In addition to Schmidt, Kowalski and Fajt, three players finished at 1 under: Alec Stopperich, Ryan Peters and Jimmy Ellis.
The final round begins at 8:30 and the final pairing of Schmidt and Kowalski will tee off at 11:39.
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.