HIGH SCHOOL GOLF: Indiana's Holuta reaches PIAA Championships for third straight year
BURRELL TOWNSHIP — Indiana senior Matt Holuta has been working toward the 2013 state golf championships for some time now.
Two years ago as a sophomore, Holuta finished 46th out of 48 players at the state tournament. Last year he improved to the point that he contended for the championship, eventually finishing in eighth and earning all-state recognition.
Holuta punched his ticket to the state championships for the third and final time Wednesday, shooting a 4-over-par 76 to tie for sixth place and claim one of the 12 qualifying spots in the PIAA Class AAA West Region Championship at Tom’s Run Golf Course.
Indiana sophomore Kyle Grube wasn’t as fortunate, shooting an 80 to finish in a tie for 14th, one shot above the cut line — three players tied at 79 and played off for the final two qualifying spots.
Fox Chapel’s Patrick Sheerer shot a 71 and was the medalist.
The 36-hole state championship tournament is Monday and Tuesday at Heritage Hills Golf Resort and Conference Center in York.
“I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself,” said Holuta, who has verbally committed to play collegiately at Rutgers. “I want to be state champion. This is my senior year. It’s my third time there. I feel like I have the game that I can do that as long as I play well, so, yeah, obviously I put some pressure on myself, especially knowing that I’m going to play college golf and that I should be playing well and have a chance to win.”
Holuta made sure to get back to York by advancing at Tom’s Run for the third straight year. He shot an even-par 36 on the front nine, then came in with a 4-over 40 on the back.
“I played solid on the front,” he said. “On the front nine there are a couple holes that can get you, so I was very pleased with that. I kind of fell apart on the back a little bit. I had some bad, unforced errors. I kind of stumbled in, but it worked out OK.
“No. 4 is typically one of the harder holes here. You can make big numbers. I bogeyed once, I was 1-over, and I actually made birdie on 4. So that took me back to even and I got past the hardest hole. I was like, OK, I’m fine. That was big.”
What’s most important for Holuta, regardless of place, is that he got in the top 12 to get back to states. He has played fairly well through the team and individual playoffs. Now he just hopes to have two more good rounds in him.
“With golf you never know from day to day, but I feel like I should play well,” he said. “I’ve been hitting it well. I should be good.
“Other than a couple holes on the back nine, I was playing pretty well. I’m going to probably make a couple tweaks, practice a little bit, and I should be good for next week.”
Grube won’t be going on to states just yet, but he got to see a good example of the progress that can be made over a few years of high school golf.
“If you would’ve told me I was going to make it this far, I would’ve said, ‘Sign me up,’” he said, “because I still have two years left. I’m pretty excited about that.
“I’m taking it as a good thing, getting here but potentially missing it by one. Yeah, I’ll take it. … I was a shot away my sophomore year, so hopefully I can make it my junior and senior years.”
It wasn’t a bad round, just a couple bad holes, that did in Grube. He double-bogeyed 18, then bogeyed No. 3, his final hole of the day.
“Just stay away from the big numbers,” Grube said of the learning experience. “If you take those away, I make it. … Coach tells us that all the time, and if I could’ve done that today, I probably would’ve made it.”
“When I came here as a sophomore, I played awful here,” Holuta recalled. “I was nervous. I birdied my last two holes to shoot 79 and get in on the number, but I didn’t play well. It’s tough to come here and know what’s at stake, especially as a sophomore. Your first time seeing it, it’s tough.”