Franklin Regional’s Jackson fires 66 to take medalist honors at PIAA West Region tournament

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Monday, October 15, 2018 | 8:47 PM


After Palmer Jackson came up short of winning the individual title at the WPIAL Class AAA golf championship, he vowed to change his approach at the PIAA championship.

That new approach began Monday at the PIAA West Region tournament at Chestnut Ridge Resort’s Tom’s Run course.

The Franklin Regional senior, taking advantage of the damp and soft conditions of the greens, was aggressive with his approach shots and fired a sizzling 6-under par 66 during a rainy and windy round.

Jackson recorded seven birdies after he bogeyed No. 4. He followed that bogey with consecutive birdies on Nos. 5 and 6. He added a birdie on No. 8 to finish the front nine at 2-under.

“I played conservative on the first two holes, and I was 1-over after three holes, then I went after it,” Jackson said. “I hit it pretty good; you don’t have to hit it great, but we played lift, clean and place. So that neutralized if you missed the fairway.

“I also made a lot of putts. I made a few I normally don’t make, but I missed a few I should have made.”

He had four more birdies (Nos. 13, 14, 16 and 17) on the back nine.

While winning the region tournament isn’t essential, making the cut is.

“The field is pretty good and the cut (was) going to be 5-over, which is lower than normal, especially in these terrible conditions,” Jackson said. “I was trying to go low and play my game. Birdieing No. 8 was pretty good and birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 were huge. I made a 20-footer on No. 13.”

Latrobe senior Brady Pevarnik and Shady Side Academy junior Brice Delany tied for second by shooting a 1-over par 73.

Pevarnik, who failed to qualify for states in 2017, said he got revenge for his poor play with a solid round.

“I’m going to prepare like I would for any tournament,” Pevarnik said. “I’ll work my butt off and try to win a state championship.

“It was fun to watch (Jackson). He played like he’s capable of. I hope to play that well in York.”

The qualifiers in the four qualifiers (Class AAA and AA boys and Class AAA and AA girls) advance to the PIAA championship Oct. 22-23 at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.

“Winning this isn’t as big as winning the WPIAL or PIAA tournaments,” Pevarnik said. “The big thing here was qualifying. If you win here, you get a pat on the back.”

Only the top 10 boys in Class AAA advanced to the state tournament. The other WPIAL players to move on were Pine-Richland senior Jack Wymard, who was fourth with a 74; Fox Chapel senior Gregor Meyer and Central Catholic senior Jimmy Meyers, who tied for fifth with a 75; and Central Catholic junior Palmer Cuny and South Fayette junior Luke Lestini, who tied for seventh with a 76. Meyer (2016) and Meyers (2018) are WPIAL champions.

North Allegheny senior Caroline Wrigley was the only WPIAL champion to place first at Tom’s Run. She shot a 1-under par 71 to win the Class AAA girls regional.

“I scrambled a lot,” Wrigley said of her round. “I hit a lot of bad shots and still made par. I couldn’t get many putts to fall. I just played it safe and tried to qualify. I wasn’t aggressive.”

South Fayette freshman Caroline McConnell used a hole-in-one, the first in her career, to shoot a 2-over par 74 and finish second. Uniontown senior Danae Rugola and Upper St. Clair junior Sara Steve tied for third with a 76, while Oakland Catholic senior Jessica Meyers edged Moon sophomore Rhianna Firmstone on the second playoff hole for the fifth and final spot.

“It was just another round of golf to me,” McConnell said. “You had to be aware of the conditions.

“On my hole-in-one, the hole was 118 yards, and I hit a 9-iron. It bounced once and went in. It was pretty cool.”

The WPIAL Class AA champions — Riverside junior Skyler Fox and North Catholic junior Maddie Smithco — also advanced to states.

North East senior Alec Hite won the Class AA boys regional with a 1-over 73, while North East freshman Lydia Swan nipped Central Valley senior Kiarla Porter on the third playoff hole for the top spot in the Class AA girls regional. They finished with a 3-over 75.

Elizabeth Forward senior Angus McHolme tied for second in Class AA after shooting a 2-over 74.

The Top 22 boys in Class AA qualified for states, and the WPIAL will be sending 11. Among the qualifiers were Sewickley Academy junior J.F. Aber, who shot a 75, and Burrell senior Tiger Hubbard, who shot an 82.

In the Class AA girls tournament, seven of the 11 qualifiers were from the WPIAL, including Greensburg Central Catholic’s Zambruno sisters, Abby (81) and Meghan (86), who finished seventh and 11th, respectively.

Abby Zambruno said she’s excited to qualify for another state tournament and play with her sisters — Meghan and Ella — in the team tournament.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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