Knapp wins record ninth West Penn Amateur
By Mike Dudurich • July 11, 2023
The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have won five Stanley Cups.
Step aside fellas.
On a bright, sunny and breezy Tuesday afternoon at Hannastown Golf Club some REAL history was made.
The man widely regarded as the best amateur to ever put a tee in the ground provided more evidence to that discussion when venerable Sean Knapp wiped out a one-shot deficit after 36 holes to win the 123rd West Penn Amateur for a record ninth time.
But as remarkable as that is, how about these tidbits?
By winning in 2023, Knapp has succeeded in winning the event in five, count ‘em, five different decades.
And the coup d’ gras?
Knapp’s record-setting win is remarkable enough, but you mustn’t forget the former basketball player is 61 years old.
“It’s awesome, obviously,” said Knapp, who battled emotions of joy as he spoke about his latest golf accomplishment. “Darin (Kowalski) is a great player and a battler, but I think the difference today was the fact that I had eight of these and he had zero.”
The two were in the final group of the day and, despite a run of several holes by Austin Lemieux, the final round was basically a back-and-forth between those two.
“I battled like hell all day,” Knapp said. “If I look for a turning point today, it was probably the 13th hole. His tee shot caught a bunker off the left side of the green and, worse, it plugged. He had no choice but to hit the ball hard to make sure it came out. When he did, the ball flew to the back edge of the green.
“Really wasn’t much I could do because I didn’t want to leave it in there,” Kowalski said dejectedly. “I knew if Sean played well, he’d win. And he did.”
To show how well he played, Knapp did not make a bogey in his round Tuesday. Going around a very good layout like this requires a great number of quality golf shots and that’s what Knapp produced.
“I had an insanely good four at No. 6 and a nice up and down at 7,” Knapp admitted. “I never looked at a scoreboard all day. What I was trying to do once we made the turn, was to become a pest. Like just hanging around and not going away.”
In the three rounds, Knapp made 13 birdies. There were only 12 other players to record 10 or more birdies.
For Kowalski, it was the third time he’s finished second in the West Penn Am.
He was disappointed, of course, but summed up his experience this way, “It’ll come.”
Only five players finished under par. In addition to the top two, Austin Lemieux (-5), Gregor Meyer (-3) and Nathan Piatt (-3) were the others.
Lemieux got off to a quick start, making birdies on two of the first five holes, but his run came undone with bogeys on 13 and 15.
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 34,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund and Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame.