Sunnehanna Country Club, host the Sunnehanna Amateur

Sunnehanna Amateur underway as part of Elite Amateur Series
By Mike Dudurich • June 15, 2022

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.

The first round of the Sunnehanna Amateur followed one of the things that is talked about on the PGA Tour a lot.

You often hear broadcasters talk about how the early wave of players had an advantage over the late wave (or vice versa). Mostly that statement revolves around weather conditions.

Wednesday, if a player had a tee time before noon at Sunnehanna Country Club, he was where he wanted to be because the temperature was cooler, there was no wind, and the course was at its very best.

The afternoon wave saw rising temperatures and winds. The course was still impeccable, but it was a real slog for the collection of outstanding afternoon players on Wednesday.

The scoreboard showed certainly proved out the feelings of the players.

Eight of the top 12 scores on the board were posted from the morning group. Tied for the lead are Bryce Lewis from Hendersonville, Tenn. (morning start) and Cole Anderson of Camden, Maine (afternoon start). They each shot rounds of 64.

Twelve of the top 16 players on the board started in the morning.

Lewis, a redshirt sophomore at Tennessee, put a charge into the scoreboard when his 64 was posted. After shooting 34 on the front, he started his back nine with four straight birdies to shoot 30 on the back.

“I didn’t play very well here last year,” Lewis said. “Today I stayed patient and I think that’s the key here. This golf course isn’t how it looks. This is the kind of course that I’d rather be in the fairway at 270 yards than 300 yards in the rough.”

Cole’s 64 was a bit more interesting, as he made seven birdies and one bogey.

The West Penn Golf Association’s contingent of five golfers all were in the morning wave and most turned in solid rounds. Nathan Smith, the 2011 Sunnehanna Amateur champion, is tied with Mark Goetz, the Greensburg native and a star at WVU, each at 2-under par.

“I hit it well, hit a lot of greens,” Smith said. “It’s only one round, but I know I have to keep playing aggressively. One thing’s sure, it’s better to play from inside the ropes.”

Smith, a member of the Sunnehanna Am committee, was chosen to hit the first shot of the tournament. That shot was significant because that shot also kicked off the Elite Amateur Series, the seven tournaments that will provide exemptions who rack up the most points in these events over the summer.

This will be a significant event in Goetz’s young career. Once Sunnehanna is completed on Sunday, Goetz will turn professional with his first pro start taking place at the Frank B. Fuhrer Jr. Invitational at the Pittsburgh Field Club June 28-30.

“I played pretty well today, but it’s hard to separate yourself in a tournament like this,” Goetz said. “I didn’t three-putt any greens and I actually had a couple really good looks at birdies, but they just didn’t go in today.”

Palmer Jackson, playing in his first tournament in a while, finished at even par 70. He made two bogeys and a double bogey, but also made four birdies to even the score.

”You really have to be disciplined to play this course,” he said. “It’s difficult, but I know I can play this golf course. I played well enough to shoot three or four-under today. I had good looks on two of the last three holes. I know I’m capable of doing great things. I just have to get my mind here with me.”

Gregor Meyer (76) and Sean Knapp (77) rounded out the WPGA contingent.

The second round will be contested today, weather permitting. The forecast is not particularly good, with showers and thunderstorms expected.

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.