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Return to the Big Show: Rohanna earns LPGA Tour card

Rachel Rohanna had an eventful few days in Daytona Beach, Fla., last weekend.

Rohanna, her daughter and mother were among the thousands affected by the nearly 2,400 Southwest Airlines flights that were cancelled, leaving her searching for a flight back to Pennsylvania for the trio.

Wrapped in all the airline drama was comforting an ailing toddler on little sleep.

Oh, the Waynesburg graduate also regained her LPGA Tour card after battling for a top-40 finish in the Symetra Tour Championship.

Rohanna finished the four-day, season-ending tournament at 9-under 279. Her earnings of $1,541 were enough to secure the 10th and final spot on the money list with $75,608.

She trailed Switzerland’s Morgane Metraux by $163 for ninth place, but, more importantly, had a $4,000 edge over Beth Wu for the final berth.

Rohanna came out of the gate fast, shooting 6-under 66 in Thursday’s opening round at the LPGA International, Jones course. She eagled eagled No. 18 to go with five birdies and just one bogey.

“The first day was dry and 100 degrees,” Rohanna said of the weather.

The weather turned in Friday’s second day, leading to delays, two postponements because of darkness and a lot of golf in a short amount of time.

“I was on the fairway on my fourth hole (when play was postponed in the second round),” explained Rohanna. “I had to play 31½ holes the next day.

“Physically and mentally, it got to me. I got there before sun up and left after sundown.

“I think I pulled a muscle on my left side. I asked myself do I really need a warmup (before the third round)?”

Conditions changed dramatically when she returned to complete her second round Saturday.

“After the water, the course was so mushy. I had over 30,000 steps. I only brought one pair of waterproof leather shoes. I kept changing out my socks, but I was getting blisters,” said Rohanna. “And, since we were finishing the second round, the course was wet and there were mud balls. We weren’t allowed to lift, clean and replace.

“The wind wasn’t a factor until the third round. I’m shocked how good the scores were in the third and fourth round.”

Rohanna actually played the third round with Wu.

“I knew Beth played well in the third round and she had momentum going into the fourth round. I bogeyed my last hole. I had a bogey on an eagle or birdie hole. I was not in a good mental state,” said Rohanna.

Rohanna had some free time between the third and fourth round, and used the break to prepare for a Monday flight that was eventually cancelled.

“I had a two-hour break, so I went back to the hotel and packed up,” said Rohanna, a 2012 Ohio State graduate.

Part of that process was prepping her clothes for the final 18 holes of the season.

“What’s your lucky outfit?” Rohanna asked herself, adding she’s not superstitious.

Rohanna started her final round on No. 10, while Wu was on the front nine.

“I like starting on the back nine on that course. I knew I’d rather come down on No. 9 instead of No. 18,” said Rohanna. “I made a real good birdie putt on No. 2, my 11th hole. I made a good birdie on No. 5, my 14th hole.

“I had four holes left. I’m not going to lie. I told myself just hold on tight.”

Despite her plea to herself, Rohanna made the final four holes far too interesting.

“I yanked a pitching wedge on the par-3 (No. 6) into the left bunker. I had six, seven feet and felt good over the putt, but missed the putt,” Rohanna said of the bogey. “Then, on No. 7, I hit 5-wood off the tee and hit a great approach shot. The ball hit real firm and rolled to the back of the green. I two-putted for par.

“I had a million things going through my head.”

One of those things rolling through Rohanna’s head was how to deal with her wayward drive on No. 8, her 17th hole.

“I pushed my driver right. The ball flew over the fairway bunker and into the hazard. (Her approach shot) took a weird hop and I had a 30-footer for par. I putted up and tapped in for bogey.”

As for the closing hole, Rohanna said, “Luckily, No. 9 has a pretty wide fairway. I striped a driver and I striped my second shot. I hit a 60-degree, but had a 30-footer straight up the hill. I leave it four feet short. I told myself ‘You have to be kidding me.’

“I steered that ball right to the back of the hole. I told myself just get it in the hole.”

Rohanna thought her 1-under 71 would be rewarded more than it was.

“Given the difficult conditions, I was surprised I didn’t move up. I thought I’d move up to 20. Instead, I moved back to 37th,” said Rohanna.

Rohanna then had to wait to see if her finish would hold up to get her in the top 10, not wishing ill on any of her fellow golfers, notably Wu.

“It was still nerve wracking. I was the first one off (No. 10). I don’t know where I am standing because I see only the top 10 on the scoreboard. I was hoping everyone else would do better and spread out the money,” said Rohanna.

Adding to the nerves, was Wu’s marker punching an incorrect score into the computer.

“They had a wrong score for Beth coming down the stretch,” said Rohanna. “Beth is an amazing player. I made an extremely good par on the 16th hole in the third round and she gives me a fist bump. That’s awesome.”

Lilia Vu finished atop the Race for the Card standings with $162,292. Also earning a spot in the top 10 with Vu, Metraux and Rohanna were Fatima Fernandez Cano ($119,180), Casey Danielson ($114,534), Sophia Schubert ($101,163), Ruixin Liu ($95,281), Maude-Aimee Leblanc ($94,188), Amanda Doherty ($90,921), and Allison Emrey ($82,644).

Rohanna first earned a top-10 finish for full-time status on the LPGA Tour back in 2015. Rohanna had four top-10 finishes, including two second-place finishes (Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic, Twin Bridges Championship).

Finishing 10th saved Rohanna the added pressure of Q School, and the extra cost playing in the tournament would add.

“It’s the first two weeks in December. The fee is $2,500, plus another $2,500 for a caddy. Then, there’s the hotel room and food,” said Rohanna. “It’s an expensive week.”

Rohanna celebrated with the other top-10 finishers after the official announcement, and then set her sights on getting back to Greene County and tending to her daughter.

“She has an infection. It happened so quick,” explained Rohanna, who said Tuesday Gemelia was feeling much better.

The trio was to fly out Monday morning, but got caught up in the Southwest Airlines whirlwind. Both Rohanna and her mother Debbie were working websites and emails for a return trip home. The 10 a.m. flight eventually became a 4:30 p.m. departure.

“We know how quickly we have to do things,” Rohanna said with a laugh, adding, “The flight was completely full.”

Now, Rohanna returns to the course as the head coach of the Waynesburg University women’s golf team before her preparations begin for the 2022 season. The Yellow Jackets are playing today in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Fall Championship at Squaw Creek Course at Avalon Golf and Country Club in Ohio.

The tournament will be the first with Rohanna present.

“I have some goals for the next two days,” said Rohanna, who will be ably assisted by her sister Emily. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement. I want them to put up personal best rounds.”

Rohanna plans to take a week or so off to allow her body to heal, then she’ll get back into preparations for the 2022 season.

“I might do a Monday qualifier for an event in November. I plan on doing more mini-tour events in Florida and see how that helps,” explained Rohanna. “And, I’ve been working with Kevin Shields at Nevillewood.”

Rohanna also looked back on the season as she prepared for another foray on the LPGA Tour.

“I feel I played really well this year,” Rohanna said. “I should be good to go this year.”

Playoff series for the ages as Dodgers, Giants go to Game 5

SAN FRANCISCO – Everybody expected a playoff series for the ages between the century-old rival Dodgers and Giants, and now they’ve got it.

Anything less than a winner-take-all Game 5 would have been a baseball travesty, leaving the sport short-changed on the October stage.

It’s the 107-win, NL West champion Giants vs. the defending World Series champ Los Angeles Dodgers for a place in the NL Championship Series against Atlanta starting Saturday night.

It all comes down to Game 5 on Thursday night, back at the San Francisco’s Oracle Park after the Dodgers staved off elimination with a 7-2 victory at home Tuesday night.

So you can see why San Francisco third baseman Evan Longoria would prefer a best-of-seven over this short NL Division Series before one of these two has to go home for the winter.

“I feel like this may also be like a series or a moment where baseball may have to think about restructuring the way that the playoffs happen – 106 and 107 wins doesn’t feel like a DS matchup,” Longoria said last week before his home run lifted the Giants 1-0 in Game 3. “... I just feel like there’s two teams that win this many games, it seems early to match up us two.”

Mookie Betts and LA have played their share of winner-take-all games the past two seasons.

“We’ve had a lot of success here and in the past four, five, six, whatever years, and I think one of the biggest things is there’s teams that operate out of, ‘We want to get here,’ and there’s teams that it’s disappointing if we don’t get there, and I think we’re one of those teams that it’s disappointing if we don’t get there,” Betts said. “I think you sense that in there and you find a way to do little things that you might not do in the regular season. You find a way to impact a game.”

It will be season meeting No. 24 between these talented, even clubs, to be played at 24 Willie Mays Plaza – an ode to the Hall of Famer’s jersey number.

San Francisco has won 12 and LA 11.

And now these teams that began playing each other in 1884 and have each won 109 times this year meet in an win-or-go-home game.

“I think it’s only fitting,” Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler said.

Game 1 winner Logan Webb, dazzling in his postseason debut, takes the ball again for the Giants.

“We knew it was going to come down to Game 5,” he said.

The Dodgers will go to 20-game winner Julio Urías after the left-hander pitched the Game 2 triumph.

“Tomorrow when I take the mound the message is to give 100 percent of me,” Urías said.

In their two wins this series, the Dodgers have scored nine and seven runs. In their two victories, the Giants have shut out LA’s slugging lineup.

“This time of year you’re going to face great pitching night in and night out,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “And as much as you can, you’re hoping that when you do get some traffic out there, you can get a big hit and, because sometimes those opportunities are limited and hopefully that’s something we will be able to do on Thursday.”

Webb and two relievers combined on a five-hitter in 4-0 Game 1 win last week.

“As an offense, we got to come ready to go and just put together good at-bats, score some runs, and jump on him early,” Dodgers catcher Will Smith said. “They know us. We know them really well. And it’s just going to come down to who wants it a little more and who is ready to go that day.”

These teams share a star-studded history of meeting in deciding games to see who advances.

In the decisive Game 3 of a 1951 NL pennant tiebreaker, Bobby Thomson hit what many consider the most famous home run ever when he connected for the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” a three-run drive in the bottom of the ninth that lifted the New York Giants over Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-4 at the Polo Grounds.

The franchises had shifted to the West Coast when they played a best-of-three matchup for the 1962 NL pennant. After topping Los Angeles ace Sandy Koufax in the opener, San Francisco lost the next day. Mays then keyed a four-run rally in the ninth inning to win 6-4 in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.

“I think our players understand the magnitude of the Game 5 in a DS at home against the Dodgers with the magnitude of a postseason series, all the dramatics that have happened in Game 5s along the way and some of the cool things that have happened for the Giants players and Giants fans,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday.

“Our players are well aware of that so when I hear them talk about it it fires me up a bit. Their understanding and knowledge of the history, it’s encouraging,” he said.

And all these years later, the longtime rivals are still at it.

“This is what baseball wants. I mean, I think, as I understand, all the series are done and so we’re going to be the only show in town,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. “So if you have a pulse or you’re a sports fan, you better be watching Dodgers-Giants.”

Steelers offense plots a path forward without Smith-Schuster
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PITTSBURGH – A wide receiver will line up in the slot for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night against Seattle. They will find a pass headed their way on third down. They will go over the middle looking to deliver as much punishment as they receive.

None of them, however, will do it with the same easy swagger as JuJu Smith-Schuster.

The five-year veteran and social media star’s season is over after injuring his right shoulder in a win over Denver last Sunday.

And no offense to Diontae Johnson or James Washington or Chase Claypool or anyone else tasked with taking over Smith-Schuster’s myriad job responsibilities, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger acknowledges something will be missing without Smith-Schuster’s familiar No. 19 in the huddle.

“You can’t replace JuJu,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday.

Few receivers in the league possess Smith-Schuster’s unique skillset. The 24-year-old is an enthusiastic run blocker – he famously won over teammates as rookie four years ago by crushing former Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict – and a selfless receiver.

His yards per reception has dipped from 15.8 in 2017 while running alongside Antonio Brown to just 8.6 since the start of 2020, the result of him willingly running underneath while the 6-5 Claypool and dynamic Johnson raced downfield.

“I’m hurt because I miss that guy,” Roethlisberger said. “I mean, what he brings to this team is energy, is excitement. The leadership. It sucks. It really does. And I’m not even the one hurt.”

Smith-Schuster went out on a play that has become symbolic of his role. He took an end-around from Roethlisberger in the second quarter against Denver, headed toward the sideline, then turned upfield. Broncos safety Kareem Jackson was waiting for him just past the line of scrimmage, so Smith-Schuster dipped his shoulder and tried to run him over. For one of the very times in his 63-game career, Smith-Schuster wound up on the wrong end of the exchange.

Now the Steelers (2-3) find themselves trying to build momentum without the player whose infectious energy galvanized a wide receiver group that is still impossibly young. Anthony Miller, signed off waivers from Houston on Tuesday, is the oldest of the bunch and he turned 27 last Saturday. No one has played more than four seasons in the league and all of them were in elementary school when Roethlisberger made his NFL debut in 2004.

Johnson, who has caught touchdowns in three of four games this season, stressed he’s confident Pittsburgh can find a way forward.

“Everybody (in the wide receivers room) is capable of playing and contributing to the offense,” said Johnson. “So we are not worried about that. We are still going to go out there and play for JuJu.”

The job will likely extend beyond the receivers. Roethlisberger admitted Wednesday he needs to do a better job of trying to connect with rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth, who has caught 11 of the 13 passes Roethlisberger has thrown his way through five weeks.

“I trust him,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s in the right spot.”

There’s a chance Smith-Schuster’s absence could also create more opportunities for tight end Eric Ebron, who has become an afterthought. Signed as a free agency splurge in March 2020, Ebron has just five receptions for 37 yards a season after hauling in 56 passes and scoring five times.

Asked about Ebron’s drop in production, Roethlisberger instead pivoted to make a larger point about the NFL’s 27th-ranked offense.

“I don’t think anybody in the skill side of the offense is having the season that we’ve hoped for yet,” he said. “And it really comes down to winning football games because that’s what we all should want to do. Nobody’s really had a huge game. And so I think everyone’s just doing a good job of being patient, understanding that once the offense starts to click a little bit hopefully everyone will be able to start to reap the rewards.”


Roethlisberger did not practice Wednesday while he continues to wrangle with hip and left pectoral injuries. ... Washington (groin) and Claypool (hamstring) were limited. ... DB Cam Sutton (groin), who missed the Denver game, was a full participant. ... LB Devin Bush, who left in the third quarter on Sunday with a groin injury, was also a full participant.

Beth-Center football game canceled
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One more week and one more high school football game that is being dropped from the schedule.

And for the third time this season, the game involves Beth-Center.

Beth-Center’s Class 2A Century Conference game scheduled for Friday night against Frazier will not be played. Frazier was reportedly the school that requested the game be canceled.

It is the seventh football game this season involving local schools that has been either canceled or postponed because of COVID-19 concerns.

Washington had each of its last two games, against Beth-Center on Oct. 1 and Charleroi last Friday, scrapped. The Prexies will return to the field for the first time since beating Chartiers-Houston on Sept. 24 when they host Charleroi in a Century Conference game Friday night.

Beth-Center is scheduled to play at McGuffey on Oct. 22. That same night, Frazier is supposed to play host to Washington.