Fox Chapel golf ready to take next step

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 | 6:54 PM

Throughout his nine years of coaching at Fox Chapel, golf coach Bryan Deal has built a strong program that has produced two individual WPIAL champions. But a team title always has eluded Deal.

This year might be different.

The Foxes return four starters from a WPIAL runner-up team that finished six shots behind eventual WPIAL and PIAA champion Central Catholic. The Foxes have been on the doorstep before, finishing second in the WPIAL six times since 2009. That history, combined with the team’s talent and experience, has Deal excited about the upcoming season.

“With four starters returning, we are extremely excited about the opportunities that are ahead,” Deal said. “It’s great to have experience. It’s great to have talent. We are excited about some of our young kids, so we are very optimistic.”

Outside of the team finals last season, Fox Chapel had three golfers finish in the top seven of the WPIAL individual championships Oakmont Country Club. All five golfers who competed there finished in the top 20.

After the graduation of Gregor Meyer, senior Scott Bitar takes the lead for the Foxes. He finished sixth at the individual championships with a 7-over-par 78. He then shot a 7-over 79 at the Western Regional qualifier, bringing his season to a disappointing end.

“I played pretty poorly at Tom’s Run (Western Regional qualifier). It was probably my worst round of the season,” Bitar said. “So, obviously, I didn’t make it to states, but this year it’s a goal of mine to make it to states and perform well there.”

Bitar will be just one of the key golfers for Fox Chapel. Deal also returns junior Matt Mattioli, who shot an 85 at the individual championships, and Aiden Oerhle, a sophomore who shot 8-over 79 to finish seventh at Oakmont last season.

Amani D’Ambrosio rounds out the group of returning starters. While D’Ambrosio didn’t have an opportunity to play in the individual championship, he did as a sophomore. In 2017, he shot 78 at Nemacolin Country Club, which pegged him as the alternate for the PIAA region qualifier. He shot 80, leaving him one shot short of a trip to the state championship.

The experience between the four returners is something Deal believes will be crucial this season, but the Foxes also have depth. They return 17 players and have several people competing for the final spot in the lineup.

“Experience, in anything, is a huge factor in success, and we are thankful and fortunate to have four returning starters and a lot of guys behind them who have played a lot of competitive golf,” Deal said. “It’s something we like to emphasize.”

With experience and depth already on his team’s side, Bitar is excited for the upcoming season but believes they have to tweak a few things in order to take that next step this season.

“I think that course management is huge for most players in our lineup because most of them have good swings,” Bitar said. “They can all hit the ball. They can all putt. It’s just playing smart, limiting the big numbers and just pretty much playing smart golf to get the best score that we can.”

If the Foxes can put everything together in 2019, they could come home with their first WPIAL team title since 2006.

The rest of the field

While the Foxes might be the team to watch this year, here are a few golfers from around the A-K Valley to keep an eye on:

Marcus Pinchock, Burrell, Sr.

Pinchock finished 23rd in the WPIAL individual qualifier last year with a score of 11-over.

Cole Villa, Leechburg, Jr.

Last year Villa was a sophomore and the only Blue Devil to qualify for the WPIAL individual championship. He shot an 85 at Allegheny Country Club, but as a junior, he could be poised to take the next step.

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


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