Bangor wins second Mid-Amateur Championship
By Mike Dudurich • September 7, 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 West Penn Golf Association’s Mid-Amateur championship has been played 36 times previously.
They have been played on great courses and great players have won the titles many times.
But it’s doubtful many of those equaled the 2022 event that played out over the awesome Fox Chapel Golf Club Tuesday, with a little extra golf on Wednesday morning.
The event is 36-hole test played in one day. That’s what it says on the WPGA schedule anyway.
The way it’s set up, groups remain the same for both rounds because there’s really not enough time to re-pair the players because the days are shorter and players in contention tend to slow down a bit as the pressure increases.
So, an interesting (and quirky) thing happened when Ian Bangor and Austin Lemieux were in a group with Paul Ajak for 36 holes. That became an important tidbit when Lemieux rifled a 250-yard 3-iron onto the 18th green. He 2-putted from above the hole, forcing a playoff.
Except the impending darkness that was quickly enveloping the course, neither player wanted to go back onto the course to settle the score and the WPGA officials agreed. That led to a playoff between Lemieux and Bangor.
The two teed off at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning and the handshakes began at 8:14 on the first green.
Bangor hit the fairway on the 411-yard first, but Lemieux’s tee shot was a push down the right side.
Well, it was right of right. He actually thought the ball landed in the 18th fairway, but the army of volunteers and officials could not find the ball and Lemieux had to take a penalty. He couldn’t reach the green from where he dropped the ball and then barely got the ball out of the greenside bunker, while Bangor knocked his approach shot to within four feet.
“I really wasn’t aiming at that spot, believe me,” Bangor said. “I had a spot about 15 feet left of the pin, but there was a slope in the green and it took the ball right toward the cup.”
With the victory, Bangor became a two-time Mid-Am champion, having won the title in 2018 in a sweltering afternoon at South Hills Country Club.
For Lemieux, who shot 68-68—136, there was disappointment of course, but his eye remains his long-term goals.
“You know, every day is different,” he said. “Today it came down to experience and I look at this event as another learning experience for me.”
Bangor hadn’t played much this year but got his game together at a perfect time.
“I honestly didn’t have any expectations,” the 30-year-old said. “I knew about Austin’s game. He played great, he has a nice, controlled swing and he can bomb it. I’m not long but I’m not short either. But I really didn’t concentrate too much watching him. I knew I had to concentrate on what I needed to do.”
There were only 10 rounds under par over the two days and Lemieux had two of those. Some of the stats were a direct result of the course being soft due to the recent rains. The scorecard says yardage from the back tee measures 6,762 but the players believed it player much longer.
Darin Kowalski of South Hills Country Club and Mike Wolfe of the Kahkwa Club in Erie were the only players to finish under par. Both were 2-under.
“Tournament golf is hard, for sure,” Bangor said. “Especially when you know you’re looking at 10 hours of golf, hopefully good golf. Then you know you’ll have to be matching a guy like Austin shot-for-shot. I’m feeling good.”
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.