SHENANGO VALLEY —
It was a case of family history trumping golfing history!
Hickory High golfer Billy Colbert had a chance to become only the second player ever to win the Herald-Tam O’Shanter Golf Championship four times. But he missed the final round of the tourney Wednesday along with his brother Colbert to attend his great-grandma’s funeral in Pittsburgh.
“I kind of wish he was here,” said the 2014 champion Jacob Wilson, a Kennedy Catholic High player who lost in a sudden-death playoff to Colbert last year. “But you play whoever is here. And in golf, you play against yourself too.”
And of course nothing says Colbert would have won anyhow. Wilson, a son of Bob and Fran Wilson of Sharon, held a two-stroke lead over Colbert after the first-round play on Tuesday, just as he did the previous year.
Last year, Wilson drew an unfortunate two-stroke penalty in the final round that helped Colbert to rally for a 36-hole tie and set up the playoff which Colbert won on the first hole.
This year, with Colbert out, Wilson still had to play well to defeat a determined Ryan Dogan, a son of Gregg and Lori Dogan of West Middlesex. Wilson led Dogan by 5 strokes after Tuesday, but Dogan closed the gap.
In the end, Wilson shot 84 on Wednesday for a two-day total of 162 to hold off Dogan who posted an 81 for a final 164.
“Bad putting” was the difference, said Dogan, pointing out he had a short birdie putt on No. 16, but three-putted for bogey then missed a birdie punt on No. 17 and had to settle for par.
Meanwhile, with the pressure on, Wilson felt that his up-and-down for par on No. 17 made the difference. Both players hit the green with their tee shots on the Par-3 No. 18 and made pars.
While Wilson didn’t shoot as well as he would have liked, he said the pressure of losing the lead last year really didn’t enter his mind.
“I just focused on my game,” he said. “Making good shots and making putts.”
“This was the 66th year of the tournament and it was encouraging because we had a lot of young players this year,” said John Kerins, Tam O’Shanter director of golf. “The participation was up a little.
“Jake’s worked hard after that mistake last year (grounding a club in a bunker for a penalty) and it was nice to see him win. It’s unfortunate Billy couldn’t play today, but he has been a great champion.”
While the final-day, repeat battle between Wilson and Colbert never materialized, golf fans can look forward to another match between Wilson and Dogan next year since both are 16 and can return for another go-round.
“And look out for that third place kid (Conner Stevens of Brookfield who shot a final day 81 for 170),” said Kerins. “He’s only 12 years old.”
When it comes to tournament history, former Kennedy Catholic High star Michael Klaric III remains as the only player ever to win four Herald-Tamie titles. Although Colbert didn’t get a fourpeat he’s still in pretty good company with three crowns.
The only other three-time winners were Bob Thomas (1961-62-63) and Dave Chuba (1981-83-84).
And speaking of Herald-Tamie tourney history, Conner Stevens is the great-grandson of Johnny Pepe, former Herald sports editor who along with Tamie patriarch Jack Kerins started this prestigious event back in 1949.
Jacob Wilson 78-84—162
Ryan Dogan 83-81—164
Conner Stevens 89-81—170
Teddy Haaz 85-89—174
Joe Faber 87-90—177
Justin Atkinson 93-90—183
Jesse Kirila 89-100—189
Brandon Cioffi 92-97—189
Cory Haaz 97-95—192
James Hayes 99-97—196
Abby Hearns 104-94—198
Tony Trenga 110-98—208
Luke Sadowski 114-106—220
Bryce Schell 116-110—226
Zack Cattron 109-118—227
Dean Baker 108-121—229
Billy Colbert 80-WD
Cameron Colbert 99-WD