Indiana, PA - Indiana County

ELI NELLIS: Holuta snares spot in U.S. junior amateur

by on June 16, 2013 2:40 AM

Early last week I got a call from my friend Chris Holuta.

“This is big,” he kept saying. “This is really big.”

His son, Matt, had qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, and the pride in Chris’ voice was practically bursting through the phone.

It didn’t really hit me how this all tied together with Father’s Day until a couple days later.

I was looking for a card for my own dad. He won’t receive it in time — he’s in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard. That’s neither here nor there, except that it got me thinking a little bit more this time about the meaning behind what’s usually a pretty standard routine of buying a card.

Beyond the cartoons and singing animals, so many cards touched on areas of shared experiences or fond memories. Of course, a lot were golf- related.

It reminded me of Chris Holuta’s pride in his son’s achievement; the countless father-son groupings in area tournaments each summer; and the fathers who support their children in any activity, be it golf, baseball, football, or something not at all related to sports.

And Chris was right — Matt’s accomplishment is big, and Chris would be the last person to try to take any credit for that.

o o o

Matt Holuta fired a 72 in the first round of Monday’s 36-hole regional qualifier at the U.S. Naval Academy Golf Club in Annapolis, Md.

Respectable enough, but not necessarily good enough when only three players advance from a field of 72 golfers.

The 17-year-old from Indiana, though. made a gutsy afternoon charge with a second-round 68, finishing at 140 to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur.

“I didn’t have any bogeys during that (second) round,” he said. “That was the first time I’d done that in a tournament, which was really nice. It also felt really good to shoot that score knowing I needed to shoot something like that.

“In the morning I shot 72, and then we had about an hour break. You could see all the scores, and I was in fifth or sixth. I knew I needed to play well in the afternoon.”

It was sweet redemption after a close call in 2011.

“This is my third time qualifying for it, and this is the last time I’m going to be able to do it, because I’m going to be 18,” he said. “Two years ago I had a chance on the last hole and I blew it. … It was an awful experience. It was probably the worst moment I’ve had on a golf course, but I’ve definitely learned from it. I was in a similar position in this round, and being able to think back to that and handle my nerves a little bit differently definitely helped.”

The Junior Amateur is being held July 22-27 at the Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif.

“There are some other things that I’ve been really proud of, but this is definitely pretty big for me,” he said.

“(The course) is at 6,000 feet elevation, which is going to be weird to get used to. The ball goes a lot farther when you’re at elevation like that. … I’m excited to be able to play against some of the best junior golfers in the country. It will hopefully be a great experience that I’ll be able to remember the rest of my life.”

Holuta is looking to play in college, and playing in the Junior Amateur can certainly help raise his profile.

“This definitely helps,” he said. “This is an event that a lot of coaches go to because it’s the 156 best players in the country.”

A successful player in high school and on a few junior tours, Holuta is an Indiana Country Club member.

“From playing in so many events, I’ve learned how to handle situations,” he said, “being under pressure and how to hit shots when I need to under pressure. Being in that position before, it definitely helped for this.”

o o o

AT MEADOW LANE: Bernadette Sgro-Hodak and Jeremy Flynn, Jesse Putt and Wilson Putt, and Dale Tozer and Jack Tozer finished in a first-place tie in the Two-Person Six-Hole Event last weekend. The duos each scored a net 68.

• Rick Adair beat Bob Griffin, and Michael Usko bested Ray Sexton in second-round Palmer Bracket matches in the Coney Island Meadow Lane Match-Play Tournament.

George Berringer beat Bruce Manecke in the first second-round match in the Nicklaus Bracket. John Lowmaster, Marty Obush and Chris Frank all won first-round matches since the last report.

In the Hogan Bracket, Ray Blystone defeated Lou Fedinick in the second round. Dave Dixson and Smoke Weston both recently scored first-round victories.

• Kathy Whitesel won the Ladies’ 18-Hole League’s Guess Your Score event Wednesday. She also won the special event with the longest drive on No. 18 in the 1-to-30 handicap group.

Theresa Wise had the longest drive in the 31-to-40 handicap group. Whitesel added a birdie on No. 12, a feat Kathy Glassford matched.

• The Best Ball Championship is next weekend and is open to members and Star Pass holders.


AT INDIAN SPRINGS: Connie Minich and Diane Fako won the Tuesday Morning Ladies League’s event. The play of the day was Fairway Shots.


AT INDIANA COUNTRY CLUB: The Indiana Country Club Invitational is this week, with a qualifying round Thursday, followed by three rounds of better-ball match play Friday through Sunday.

Eli Nellis is a sports writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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