Michael Quallich teeing of on hole #17 at Fox Chapel Golf Club in the Quarterfinals of the C.R. Miller Match Play Invitational

Semifinals set in C.R. Miller and WPGA Girls' Match Play
By Mike Dudurich and Josh Rowntree, Director of Communications • June 30, 2024

It is a debate that has been active for decades, maybe even centuries.

Match play vs. stroke play.

There are merits on both sides and in the world of golf, most events would fall into the stroke play side.

And maybe that’s what makes match play events special when they do take place.

The C.R. Miller Invitational Cup this week celebrates if 50th year of existence and every year it has been played under the match play format all those years.

Monday two rounds of the event were contested and two more will play out today. And through two rounds on a picture-perfect day at Fox Chapel Golf Club, only four matches finished as blowouts. The competition was keen, and the action was good.

None may have been better than the match between top-seeded Nicholas Turowski and eighth-seeded Michael Quallich. Turowski is just over a month away from enrolling at West Virginia University as a full-scholarship member of the golf team. Quallich, on the other hand, is 14-years old and will in just about two months be a sophomore at Baldwin High School.

And when all the ups and downs, great shots and not-so-great shots were finished, the No. 8 seed walked off the 18th green with a spot assured in Tuesday’s semifinals.

The match came down to the difficult 18th hole at Fox Chapel and both players hit less than ideal tee shots there. Ironically both finished on the edge of a large bunker down the left side of the fairway.

Both had uncomfortable stances and while Quallich was able to get enough club on his golf ball to clear the small stream that meanders across the fairway, Turowski couldn’t.

“The ball rolled through the bunker into an uphill lie,” he said. “I hit a 4-iron, hit down on the ball, but it struck the ball high on the face and I hit a weird shot.”

The ball didn’t make it across the creek, or at least that’s the impression those who fruitlessly searched for the ball.

“I don’t know where it went,” Turowski said. “I found five balls I think and threw them in the water. None of them were mine.”

That led to Quallich winning the hole and the match in his biggest tournament appearance.

“It was great, lots of ups and downs, but I thought I played pretty solid,” he said. “Learning to play in tournaments like this doesn’t happen on your first time, but I thought I handled it well. I really like playoff-type golf, it gets the heart going.”

Any thoughts of the youngster succumbing to the pressure of some big moments didn’t happen and he had a quick answer why.

“I definitely hit a couple shots I wasn’t happy with and when they happened, I looked at the shots, laughed it and got ready to play the next one,” he said. “It was a great learning experience playing with Nicholas today. Doing what I did, makes me comfortable, knowing that I can play with top players.”

Quallich showed remarkable composure when things got a bit tough on the course.

“I guess it comes from the fact that I take (mental) notes from these higher learning experience,” he said. “I try to include the things I see the best players do into my game. It was great today.”

Play gets underway at 8 a.m. today with David Fuhrer of Oakmont Country Club facing Aaron Didjunas of Youghiogheny Country Club.

Quallich, of South Hills Country Club, plays Jacob Chrissman of Shannopin Country Club at 8:09.

Grace Windfelder teeing off at Fox Chapel Golf Club in the quarterfinals of the WPGA Girls' Match Play Invitational

Monday saw the return of the WPGA Girls’ Match Play Invitational.

Following a year off in 2023, the largest field to ever participate in the competition turned out at Fox Chapel.

Five players received byes in the 11-player bracket, including the field’s top two seeds, Grace Windfelder and Sophia Severns.

After awaiting their opponents from the morning’s opening round, the two managed to get through to Tuesday’s semifinals — but in slightly different fashions.

Severns cruised over Emma Mrkonja, closing out the match in ten holes by winning 9&8. Windfelder, however, was pushed to a 16th hole before defeating Clara Koteski 3&1.

“I made a lot of long putts early,” Severns said. “I mean, I make a lot of putts usually. But I felt like I was in the right mental state today. It was good, I had a lot of good shots."

For Windfelder, a strong player committed to play college golf at Fairfield next year, the match play format was enjoyable, but took some getting used to.

“It was my first match play event, actually,” she said. “Going head-to-head was really fun. You get yourself into a few tough situations, but you just battle out and keep going. You know you can win back holes.”

Both players enjoyed a different style of golf than typical stroke play.

“It’s a lot more competitive,” Severns said. “You have to be in the right mental state. You just want birdie, birdie, birdie. It’s not about making pars. You never know what the other play will do. You have to expect the best from them, and do better.”

“If it’s over, it’s over,” added Windfelder. “You win the hole, you lose the hole. It’s not necessarily easy to bounce back, but it’s fun knowing that you’re playing against somebody, knowing that you’re going head-to-head with them instead of straight up against the course. You’re worrying about no one else except the person you’re playing with.”

Severns is coming off a spectacular junior year at Peters Township, where she and the Indians claimed a PIAA state title, joining the school’s boys team in a state title sweep.

“It was really fun,” she said of playing for such a strong program. “I love it, I’m not going to lie. I’m coming in and people are like, ‘oh, you’re from Peters Township.’ To me, it means ‘oh, you’re a good player.’ I’m really happy for me and my teammates and how hard we’ve worked.”

While she has a year of high school left, Windfelder is ready for a jump in competition following her time at Oakland Catholic.

“All the stars aligned,” she said of the commitment to Fairfield. “I loved the coach, loved the team and really loved the area. It’s going to set me up for great success golf wise and professional wise. I love being near New York and Boston. It’s a really, really good area with great golf, as well.”

Also advancing to Tuesday morning’s semifinals were Moon High School rising sophomore Olivia DeGori — who topped Ava Calandra 1 Up — and Elizabeth Forward rising junior Mya Morgan, who triumphed over The Club at Nevillewood member Norah Urrea.

“I’m super excited,” said Windfelder, who spoke highly on Fox Chapel Golf Club’s condition for the competition. “I’m going to go get some good sleep. But I’m excited for tomorrow. I’m going to take one shot at a time, see how it goes and hopefully come out with a win.”

In the morning’s opening round action, Koteski dropped Gabby Devita, Mrkonja took down Morgan Monteverde and Urrea outdueled Baustin Bitar.

To see the matches and results for the Match Play Invitationals, click here (GGID: 24WPGAMATCHPLAY).

For media inquiries, please contact WPGA Director of Communications Josh Rowntree.

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.