USC’s Engel wins state title

Published Oct 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm (Updated Oct 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm)

To watch Grant Engel golf is stressful. To watch the Upper St. Clair senior capture the 2013 PIAA Class AAA championship is wonderful.

So says his coach Todd Flynn. He witnessed the nail-biting competition decided on the final hole between Engel and Andrew Wilner from Conestoga.

“What a wonderful experience,” Flynn said. “Stressful to watch but absolutely wonderful.”

During the two-day competition played at Heritage Hills Golf Course in York, Engel battled Wilner, drive for drive, putt to putt. He shot a 74-73—147 while Wilner carded a 73-76—149.

Though he trailed by one stroke after the first day of play, Engel sharpened his short game and excelled once on the greens.

“The greens were crazy and the pin placements were difficult,” explained Flnn, “but Grant’s putting was amazing.

“He saved a lot of pars. He made great putts.”

According to Flynn, when a golfer is making mid-range to long putts for pars that wears down an opponent and Engel clearly frazzled Wilner.

“Grant just kept grinding and grinding,” said Flynn.

On the final hole, Engel broke free for the victory. It was not pretty. Engel knew he was behind. Plus, he suffered a bad break when one of his shots hit the cart path and bounced into the pine trees instead of the fairway. However, Engel made “an amazing” shot to hit the green on his next stroke. Meanwhile, Wilner deposited a shot into the water hazard.

“You hate to see that happen,” Flynn said of Wilner’s misfortune. “It was sad to see the other guy hit into the water but at the same time I was excited for Grant.”

Expressionless, Engel made a two-putt to win.

“Grant is a pleasant person. When he plays golf, he has the same expression. He’s steady and sure.

“And,” Flynn added, “this couldn’t have happened to a more wonderful young man.”

With his victory, Engel became the third PIAA boys’ golf champion from Upper St. Clair. Bobbie MacWhinnie won the title in 2000 and Rick Smith won in 1974.

Engel is not finished with York yet. He hopes to help the Panthers win the PIAA Class AAA team title.

Engel likely will play a key role in the outcome. Not only is he the individual state champion, he shot a 3-under-par 69 to lead USC to the WPIAL Class AAA team trophy back on Oct. 10 at Cedar Brook Golf Course in Belle Vernon. The Panthers won that title by an amazing 30 strokes as Thomas Steve and Patrick McDonnell also contributed low scores of 71 in the district finals.

In PIAA girls’ action, Joey Walz from Seton-La Salle garnered runner-up honors in Class AA. Macky Fouse of Central Valley won the AA title with a 75-77—152.

Although Lauren Waller led after the first day of competition, carding a 73, the Canon-McMillan junior finished tied for third place in the Class AAA division. She tied defending champion Erica Herr of Council Rock North with a two-day total of 151 for 7-over par.

Isabella DiLisio of Mount St. Joseph won the AAA title with a 4-over 148 (75-73). Jackie Rogowicz of Pennsbury followed two strokes behind with a 150 for second place.

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