After cutting it close on the tee, Penn Hills’ Lucy Brayton earns spot in PIAA field

Sunday, October 9, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Lucy Brayton received no practice swings, little time to relax on the putting green or time to find her focus. When Brayton’s mom pulled up in front of the first tee at Valley Brook Country Club, Lucy only had time to hop out, grab her clubs and head over to sign-in.

Arriving five minutes before her tee time for the WPIAL Class 3A girls golf championships last Tuesday wasn’t ideal, but Brayton didn’t fold under the pressure. Battling through the cold and the wind, Brayton shot a 13-over par 85 to place fifth and clinch a spot in the PIAA championships.

Brayton is the first Penn Hills girls golfer to qualify for the PIAA tournament since Mallory Ruhling in 2008. The PIAA tournament will be Oct. 17 and 18 on the White Course of the Penn State Golf Courses in State College.

Brayton was surprised the score got her through after she missed out last season.

“You know, every year is different,” Brayton said. “Last year, I shot an 80 and I didn’t get into a playoff (for the last spot. This year, I shot an 85 and was able to qualify. Valley Brook was a difficult course, it was freezing (that day) and windy. I wanted to be confident and I took aggressive shots.”

Before Brayton could ever battle the turf monster on the golf course, she first had to fight off the tunnel monster. When the Braytons left Penn Hills, they departed around 7 a.m. to get on the Parkway East and head toward Canonsburg.

When the Parkway East was jammed, the Braytons decided to try to get off on the Churchill exit and head toward Allegheny River Boulevard. When that road was also blocked, the pair decided to head to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The route they ended up taking was a 57.4-mile journey, not including their detours, that took them to the Warrendale exit before they were able to get to Valley Brook.

Brayton said she wasn’t worried until it was 8:15 a.m. and they were still in Penn Hills.

“I called my coach and my dad, panicking, saying I didn’t know if we were going to make it,” Brayton said. “I knew my adrenaline was going fast. When I went to sign in, I was able to calm down because I didn’t want my tempo to be fast.”

While the round was hardly perfect — Brayton recorded seven pars and no birdies — she was able to find a way through. Penn Hills coach William Berskhire said the greens at the course were fast.

“She said she didn’t putt it well,” Berkshire said. “But she putted well enough.”

Qualifying for states is a good chance for Brayton to test herself against the best. She is pursuing golf in college and has visited Saint Vincent and Allegheny.

She’s hoping to arrive in plenty of time for the PIAA tournament so she can have more time to focus.

“My long clubs were going good and I hit the green in regulation,” Brayton said. “I hit a few too many aggressive shots and my putting wasn’t my strong suit. I just need to look at things differently and focus more.”


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