Central Catholic’s Rocco Salvitti wins elusive WPIAL golf title

Thursday, October 6, 2022 | 8:07 PM

When you’re considered the top golfer in the WPIAL, you’re always favored to win a title.

Central Catholic senior and Canonsburg native Rocco Salvitti had come up short in three previous attempts until Thursday in the Class 3A championship.

Salvitti got tired of people asking why he hadn’t won a WPIAL title. He won’t have to hear it again.

“Yes, I got tired of the question,” Salvitti said. “It bothered me when people would come up and ask me why I hadn’t won. It was annoying.

“I do a lot nationally, but I hadn’t won WPIALs and it wasn’t a big deal. It gave me extra push this year to come out and win.”

Salvitti played well throughout the WPIAL tournament. He shot 65 in the section qualifier at Willowbrook Country Club, an even-par 71 during the first round of the championship at Champion Lakes Golf Club last week and finished off the run by shooting a 2-under 68 at Allegheny Country Club to finish the 36-hole event with a 2-under 139.

Even though he started his final round with a bogey, Salvitti stuck to his gameplan.

“I played great,” Salvitti said. “I play my best rounds when I start with a bogey. I keep it in the back of my mind, and I restart every hole.

“I hit it really good, and I played very smart. I only put myself in a bad spot twice. I putted very well.”

Salvitti had three top-six finishes. He placed sixth in 2019, third in 2020 and fourth in 2021.

Penn-Trafford junior and 2021 WPIAL champion Nick Turowski and Salvitti’s teammate, senior Connor Walker, tied for second at 4-over 145. Turowski and Walker each shot a 2-over 72 during the final round.

Turowski said he felt he played well, but he couldn’t match Salvitti’s putter.

“I played really good golf, probably the best round I’ve played in awhile,” Turowski said. “But it’s all about putting here. You can get it within five feet all day and shoot even-par. I did not putt my best, and Rocco made about everything. He deserved to win. He played an incredible round.”

Turowski said he had a few putts lip out and roll eight feet away.

“I was putting for birdie and ended up with a bogey,” Turowski said. “You hope to get one back up on Rocco, and he’d get one on you.”

The WPIAL instituted a new way to determine the champion this year: a 36-hole event. Turowski said he loves the change, but he’d like to see it tweaked.

“I’d like to see the tournament go over two days, not delayed a week,” Turowski said.

Turowski was denied a chance at becoming a rare back-to-back champion in Class 3A.

“I would have loved to have joined Mr. (Arnold) Palmer as a back-to-back champion,” he said.

The trio, along with 11 other players, advanced to the PIAA championships Oct. 17-18 at Penn State University’s White Course.

Other qualifiers are Indiana junior Harrison Martineau (fourth); Butler junior Hunter Swidzinski and Plum sophomore Wes Lorish (tied for fifth); Central Catholic senior Aiden Burchanti (seventh); Peters Township sophomore Colton Lusk and Avonworth junior Kai Carlson (tied for eighth); Mars senior Blake Bertolo (10th); Pine-Richland senior Blaise Masciantonio (11th); North Allegheny sophomore Chris Hoffman (12th); and Shaler junior Joey Miller, Upper St. Clair junior Neil Joon and Moon junior Zack Ross (tied for 13th).

Lorish said he is looking forward to the state tournament after he put together a solid second round. Lorish shot 4-over 74 and finished 8-over 149.

“I put together a solid run after a tough beginning,” Lorish said. “I had a stretch of holes where I was making dumb decisions. But I was able pick things up with two quick birdies on the back, and then I started making putts.”

Now that Salvitti has won a WPIAL title, now his sights are on winning an elusive PIAA title. He won’t be alone.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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