McMURRAY – A cloudy, rainy day?
You couldn’t convince Beau Titsworth of that, not after the round of golf he had Wednesday in the middle round of the West Penn Open at Valley Brook Country Club.
Titsworth set the course record with a sizzling 10-under-par 62 on the spongy fairways and cushy greens, made that way by the overnight rains. Bob Meyer, the former pro at Valley Brook, held the previous record of 9-under 63 set in 2002.
As you might expect, the 62 by Titsworth gave him a comfortable lead at 13-under heading into today’s final round. T.J. Howe of Bellefonte is in second place at 10-under par following a 7-under 65. Daniel Obremski of Irwin was in third place at 8-under par.
Alec Stopperich, a Peters Township graduate heading into his senior year at Samford University in Homewood, Ala, was tied for fourth place after shooting a 3-under 69, which put him at 6-under for the event. His former teammate at Peters Township, Tom Nettles, was one shot behind at 5-under and in eighth place.
“I don’t think the rain affected things too much. They made the greens a little softer but they were already very playable as it was,” said Titsworth, who is a graduate of St. Ignatious High School in Cleveland and Oklahoma University, where his team made the NCAA tournament in each of his four years there.
“I didn’t notice it a whole lot. Maybe the ball would skip on the first bounce. It allows you to fly it to the hole. The softness is definitely a factor. But the greens are pretty good, not spiked up or anything.”
Titsworth began the day off the 12th tee in a hybrid setup of the 6,685-yard course, with a birdie on the par-4 hole and made the turn after a third consecutive birdie put him at 32. Titsworth birdied five of the next seven holes to put him at 9-under for the round. The record-setting birdie came on the par-4 11th.
“I like playing in these events. They’re close to home and I get to sleep at home, no hotel rooms,” said the 25-year-old Titsworth, who lives in Ross Township in Pittsburgh. “I’m just going home and relaxing.”
Titsworth has played in four West Penn Opens with his best finish being third place two years ago in Butler.
Stopperich sandwiched four birdies and a bogey between 13 pars to equal his first-round score of 69.
“I was hitting good shots on the front nine and even the back nine but I couldn’t get my putts to the hole,” said Stopperich. “When it came down to the last six, I said I’m not leaving anything short of the hole. I birdied the last three and come off my 18th feeling pretty good and I look at the scoreboard and see 13 under.”
The 21-year-old Stopperich is a member at Valley Brook, so he knows the course.
“I’m going to go home and relax, chill out and get a good dinner,” Stopperich said. “I don’t want to press. It’ll be fun.”
Nettles had three birdies on the front and three more on the back. A bogey on the par-4 second stopped him from tying Stopperich.
“I thought the course was pretty good (despite the rain),” said Nettles, a graduate of Peters Township and Ohio University. “You can make a lot of birdies out there.”
Another PT grad, Jimmy Ellis, was in ninth place at 4-under par and Jake Sollon was even par and made the cut. Brett Carman, a former pro at Dogwood Hills, was tied for 17th at 1 under.
“I got off to a really good start and, quite honestly, was hanging on at the end,” Carman said. “I just didn’t make any putts.”