Team WPGA falls to Tri-State Section in 2020 Palmer Cup Matches
By Mike Dudurich • September 19, 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.
LATROBE – Last year, heading into the Palmer Cup matches, the West Penn Golf Association’s amateurs were riding high in the annual Palmer Cup matches against the Tri-State PGA professionals.
They had won six straight against the Tri-State and led 3-2 after the morning matches. But sometime between the last morning match and the beginning of the afternoon matches, something happened and the Tri-State has been on a roll ever since.
The pros rolled and won going away. That scenario played out again Thursday at Latrobe Country Club as Tri-State won, 3-2 in the morning four-balls and won the afternoon singles matches, 8 ½ -1 ½, to win the Palmer Cup easily, 11 ½-3 1/2.
“Back in April, we seriously didn’t know if we were evening going to have this event,” Terry Teasdale, Executive Director of the WPGA, said. “The players love coming to Latrobe, they really enjoy the competition. Things just didn’t work out for us today.”
The teams of Jimmy Ellis and Chuck Nettles, and Sean Knapp and David Brown won their matches in the morning and Knapp won a singles match in the afternoon and Darin Kowalski earned a tie for the team’s only points.
One of the bright spots of the day for West Penn took place when Rocco Salvitti teed it up in the morning matches. The 16-year-old from Canonsburg and a member of the Pittsburgh Central Catholic golf team became the youngster player to ever compete in the Palmer Cup.
“It was a lot of fun,” Salvitti said. “This was my first match play event and I heard about being the youngest player in the grill room earlier. It was an honor to play in Mr. Palmer’s tournament here in Latrobe.”
Salvitti has contended in several events this summer, but one that happened early in the season is the one that shaped his season. He was leading and had played very well in the first 23 holes of the Tri-State Open at Williams Country Club a couple months ago when he ran into a tough patch. He dropped four shots in three holes, shaking his confidence briefly. But that was a big moment for his development.
“I made a couple bad swings and it cost me,” he said. “But since that time, my game has developed a great deal. Any time I lose focus when I’m playing, I think back to that time at Williams.”
For both teams, there was a definite feel-good aspect to this afternoon singles match, regardless of wins or losses. As has been his practice for many years of the Palmer Cup, Arnold Palmer’s long-time assistant, 91-year-old Doc Giffin, came out to watch the matches.
He enjoyed doing so when the boss was playing and continues enjoying as he got to renew acquaintances with old friends and meet younger players he wasn’t familiar with.
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.