HIGH SCHOOL GOLF: Indiana's Holuta loses title on fourth playoff hole
SEWICKLEY — Matt Holuta felt good all day, through the front nine, the back nine, all the way through 21 holes. Sometimes, though, there just isn’t any margin for error.
The Indiana senior tied South Fayette’s Corey Long with 3-under-par 67 through regulation, but lost the title on the fourth playoff hole at the WPIAL Class AAA boys’ individual golf championships Wednesday at Diamond Run Golf Club.
Indiana’s Kyle Grube finished ninth, with a 4-over 74, and will join Holuta at the PIAA Western Regional at Tom’s Run Golf Course in Burrell Township on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
John Louis Gatti rounded out Indiana’s day with an 88 to tie for 32nd place.
“Obviously I wanted to be WPIAL champion,” Holuta said, “but, if you gave me a choice between being WPIAL champion and state champion, obviously I’m going to pick state champion. That’s all that’s left, so I’m just going to focus on that and not really worry about what happened today.”
Holuta fired seven birdies and four bogeys through 18 and equaled Long on three playoff holes.
“Honestly, I wasn’t too nervous about it, because if I lost, I still get to go to the next round,” Holuta said. “I knew I had qualified.”
It was the fourth playoff hole that proved to be problematic.
“He had already hit his second shot and just missed the green,” Holuta said. “I was in the fairway and I had a 6-iron. For whatever reason, it was the first time all day that I was uncomfortable over the ball. All day I hit everything really well and for whatever reason I was uncomfortable over it and I made a bad swing and unfortunately hit a bad shot that ended up costing me.
“Obviously I’m very pleased with 67. If you would’ve told me before the round I was going to shoot 67, I would’ve said, sign me up. Losing in a playoff is disappointing, but I had a couple opportunities to win the playoff that I didn’t capitalize on, and then I just hit really one bad shot, and unfortunately it came at the wrong time.”
Holuta earned all-state honors with a top-10 finish in last year’s state championship, taking eighth after being tied for the lead through the first day of the 36-hole tournament. That came after a 46th-place finish in 2011. That sort of progression is something Grube, a sophomore, and Gatti, a junior, can set their sights on, and Grube can do it this year.
“I didn’t even go through the section last year,” Grube said. “This is my first time for everything, and I’m pretty excited to make it this far. I hope it can continue on to states.”
“There aren’t many sophomores that make it to states. That’s a great feat that’s possibly in his grasp,” Indiana coach Dave Myers said.
Grube finished strong to come in three strokes ahead of the cut line — the top 14 and ties advance to Tom’s Run.
“I went into the back nine and I knew I was playing all right,” Grube said. “I knew I was close to the cut line, and then I ended up making birdie on 16 and 17. Then I bogeyed 18, but I know it’s those birdies that helped secure that I made it.”
Both Grube and Gatti could very well advance through the individual playoffs next year.
“I don’t think John Louis had ever made it out of sectionals before, so to get all the way to WPIAL finals is a great accomplishment, and hopefully he can take this type of experience and get through next year.”
Indiana will find out later this week where it will play in the WPIAL team playoffs on Tuesday. The Indians defeated Norwin, 184-191, on Monday at Irwin Country Club, but lost to Latrobe, 187-189, at home at the Indiana Country Club on Tuesday, ceding the WPIAL Division 1 Section 1 title to Latrobe and falling to the No. 2 seed out of the section.