Fox Chapel boys golf set to compete in National Invitational at Pinehurst

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Saturday, August 1, 2020 | 8:00 PM


Last October, the Fox Chapel boys golf team captured its first PIAA team title when the Foxes shot an ever-par team score of 284 at Heritage Hills in York, beating the next closest team by 24 strokes.

The Foxes’ run through the postseason, which included their first WPIAL team title since 2006, was a special one, and nine months later their special moments still haven’t stopped.

Starting Monday, Fox Chapel will get one last opportunity to play together when they compete in the 2020 High School Golf National Invitational at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C.

“It’s super exciting and it will be great to have one last hoorah with the team before we all go our separate ways,” Fox Chapel’s Scott Bitar said.

The invite-only tournament is filled with the top golfers and teams from around the country. Forty states and territories are represented at the tournament this year, and as the PIAA Class 3A champion, Fox Chapel received an invite to compete in the tournament.

Bitar, who won the 2019 WPIAL Class 3A individual title, will be representing the Foxes alongside, Aidan Oehrle, Matthew Mattioli, Amani D’ambrosio and Will Livingston. Fox Chapel’s Arnold Vento and Brevin Urso also made the trip with Fox Chapel.

“It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, really,” Fox Chapel coach Bryan Deal said. “You don’t get to represent the state of Pa. as a whole very often, and we were fortunate enough to win last year and this is a great reward and another opportunity for our kids to be together one more time. It’s kind of the last ride, the last hoorah, the last rodeo.”

The boys invitational will be a three-day, 54-hole stroke play event with the top four scores of the five-player team contributing toward the final team score. The Foxes are ranked 13th by the National High School Golf Association behind teams from Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.

While some teams want to enjoy the moment on the national stage, the Foxes are out to prove they belong among the best in the country. Deal said they are going to give it everything they have.

“We came here for a purpose, we came here to play our best and win,” Deal said. “We’ve got a great, experienced group who loves to compete, and they’ve traveled for and competed on the road, so that’s what we got to do. We have to compete just like we did in the state tournament last year. We came to be a serious contender.”

Over the past few years, this group of Fox Chapel golfers have been through a lot before capping it off with an exceptional 2019 season. The Foxes finished second in the WPIAL team tournament three of the past four seasons. During the 2016-17 season, the Foxes missed out on a WPIAL title by one stroke, then two years later missed out by just six strokes.

So, while the team earning a trip to Pinehurst is a great accomplishment, it also has a little extra meaning for the group of golfers.

“This was a special group because we’ll forever be bonded as the first group to win the WPIAL in quite a while and first group to ever win states at Fox Chapel,” Deal said. “But it’s really the relationships of the kids, the parents, that bond; no one can ever take that away that bond. That’s why we coach, that’s why we teach, and those type of relationships are special.”

The team has been in North Carolina since Thursday and has been playing practice rounds every day since. The tournament begins at 7:15 a.m. Monday.

Bitar will be the first Fox Chapel golfer to step in the tee box as he tee’s off at noon on Pinehurst No. 6 with golfers from North Dakota, Utah and Florida. Oehrle, Mattiolli, D’ambrosio and Livingston will follow suit in 11-minute intervals.

“We’re proud to be here, but we are here on a mission so hopefully we will represent everyone back home in a classy manner and play well,” Deal said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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