Wes Warden and Lihini Ranaweera after winning the C.R. Miller Match Play Invitational and Girls' Junior Match Play Invitational respectively.

Warden and Ranaweera claim junior Match Play Invitationals
By Mike Dudurich • July 27, 2021

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.

Two champions were crowned Tuesday afternoon at Hannastown Golf Club as the West Penn Golf Association conducted the Third Girls Junior Match Play Invitational and the 47th C.R. Miller Match Play Junior Invitational.

And the two champions couldn’t possibly be any different.

The girls event came down to a final between Lihini Ranaweera of Cranberry Twp. and Marissa Malosh of Bridgeville. It was a tight battle between Ranaweera and Malosh throughout, with Lihini never trailing and was on tied on 3 of the 17 holes the two played.

“I’m tired,” Ranaweera sighed after it was over. “Thirty-six holes in this heat was tough. But I got through it. I’m really grateful to have been invited to this event. It was awesome and everyone was so kind.”

Malosh, who will be a junior at South Fayette this fall, wasn’t a bit surprised how her opponent played on this day.

“I’ve played several times with that girl and it’s always the same,” Malosh said. “She never misses a fairway and that’s the way it was today, fairways and greens, fairways and greens.”

Ranaweera defeated Victoria Witouski, 3 & 1, in the morning semifinals while Malosh scored a 1-up victory over Ella McRoberts.

Ranaweera joins Danae Rugola and Caroline Wrigley as champions of the event.

While the girls’ champion is very quietly confident, it can be safely said Weston Warden is much more of an outwardly confident guy. The senior at Shadyside Academy is a demonstrative player, one who has nearly constant chatter with his caddie and strides like a man who can’t wait to get to his next shot.

After a 2 & 1 victory over Chuck Tregesser in the semis, Warden faced Nolan Shilling, who’ll be a junior at Franklin Regional this fall.

Shilling won the first hole with a par, but Warden rallied to go 2-up on the fourth. Shilling came back to win the 7th, 8th, and 9th to go 1-up heading to the back nine.

But Warden evened the match by winning the 10th and the two stayed tied for the next six holes. A pair of wins on the 17th and the 18th sealed the win and the title for Warden.

“I’ve played some rounds with him. He’s a real good player and it was really a grind out there,” Shilling said. “There was a lot of great golf played out there. I really played my game out there and I know I can play with those kids. It was a lot of good golf played the last two days.”

Warden accepted the compliments from Shilling and bounced them right back to him.

“Really, this win means a lot because I’ve put up a lot of work to improve,” Warden said. “It’s been a pretty good summer.”

Ya think?

Warden won the WPGA Junior June 21 and in the process became only the sixth player in WPGA history to win both of those titles in the same year.

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.