Shipley crowned 119th WPGA Open Champion
By Mike Dudurich • June 22, 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.
Call it a hat trick for Neal Shipley.
And no that has nothing to do with ice, skating and pucks.
When Shipley won the 2022 West Penn Open Wednesday at the Club at Nevillewood, that gave him victories in the last three West Penn Golf Association events he entered, thus the hat trick. He also won the 2021 Spring Stroke Play and the 2021 Fred Brand Foursomes Championship.
“So far, it’s the biggest win of my career,” Shipley said, a smile emerging across his face.
Shipley went to college at James Madison University where he graduated in three years. He will study, and play golf, at Ohio State University for the next two years.
But on Wednesday he got off to a nasty start. He pulled his tee shot on the first hole out of bounds. The double bogey was an eye-opener, but he battled back to win. In his remaining 17 holes, he made three birdies and two eagles.
“I’ve done that enough now that, unfortunately, it’s part of the game,” Shipley said. “You just step back and focus on hitting a good one with the second.” That worked pretty well for the 21-year-old who shot 67 on the day.
Stopperich turned pro last year and has been playing as much as he can in anticipation of Korn Ferry Tour Q School this fall.
“I thought I was in it until 18,” Stopperich said. He made bogey on the home hole to seal the deal for Shipley. “He was really solid all day.”
“To win a pro event, you know there are a lot of great players there,” Shipley said. “It’s a real accomplishment. There are so many good players, it’s hard to win. I know I have a game that can stand up against just about anybody. It’s just about putting shots together. I knew I was going to have to make some birdies and eagles and I made eagles. Those helped a lot.”
Shipley eagled the on the 553-yard third hole, hitting a 7-iron from 205 yards which finished five feet from the hole. Then he eagled the 15th when he rattled home a 60-foot putt for a three.
There were some great battles in the final groups.
Oakmont pro Devin Gee and Slippery Rock pro Rob McClelland point on a classic precision vs. power exhibition especially over their front nine. Gee kept the ball in play, rarely missing a fairway or green. But as Gee admitted, “I missed some putts I should have made.” He had four bogeys on his final six holes. McClelland finished with a 74.
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.