Mt. Lebanon’s Lindsey Powanda conquers Oakmont, wins school’s first WPIAL girls golf title

Thursday, October 8, 2020 | 5:46 PM

Her notebook was chock-full of scribbles and arrows, subtle reminders and dos and don’ts of how to play Oakmont Country Club.

Lindsey Powanda came prepared, but even the best players in the world, no matter how much they’ve analyzed the course, can be humbled at the fabled venue, which welcomed a field of WPIAL girls for the first time on a crisp, fall Thursday.

Powanda, a junior from Mt. Lebanon, was glad she did her homework because it not only allowed her to tame the course — to the best of her ability in just her second time playing it — but it also led to school history.

With a 5-over-par 80, Powanda became the first Blue Devils girl to win a WPIAL golf title, besting her friend and South Fayette junior Caroline McConnell by two strokes in the Class AAA tournament.

“I take really detailed notes in my notebook,” Powanda said. “I try and play those notes the best I can. If I play those notes, I know I am going to do well.”

Powanda, who finished second in the WPIAL final as a freshman two years ago at Diamond Run Golf Club, opened with a birdie on the par-5 first hole and was 2-under through seven.

She made the turn in 37. No other player shot better than 40 on either side.

“She has put a lot of work in,” Mt. Lebanon coach Pete Buovy said. “She played a lot over the summer, a lot of AJGA tournaments. She played the next level up to help her prepare for this. She played against a lot of older players.”

She also birdied Nos. 10 and 15 and dodged double bogeys on 11, 12 and 14.

Players said the rough wasn’t nearly as high as the members like it, but the greens were fast.

The girls played five par-5s, and the course measured 5,639 yards from the red tees.

“It’s amazing. I was not expecting to win today, so it was really exciting,” Powanda said. “I was just trying to go out and play the best golf I could. I kept telling myself this is one of the hardest courses in the country, if not the world, so I needed to really stay focused.”

Bouvy knew Powanda could win if she stayed patient and plodded her way around the course.

“She said her goal was under 80,” Bouvy said. “She shot 85 in her practice round. I’m glad she got to see the course (beforehand). She is a pretty good target-shooter. She will pick her landing spots. She’s trying to place the ball. She’s always been good at that.”

Speaking of practice rounds, members made it possible for all 35 players to practice for a fee. Practice rounds are not standard for all tournaments at Oakmont.

The lead was lost briefly, but Powanda regained control.

She led junior teammate Natalie Boyd and Hempfield junior Raina Jones by one after her 14th hole and played steady the rest of the way.

“You never know what the other girls are doing, so you have to keep playing your game,” Powanda said. “There were a few areas where I didn’t do my best. … It was really tricky, and you had to keep plugging away at it. The practice round really helped me out.”

McConnell was close down the stretch, but she offset a pair of birdies on 15 and 18 with bogeys on 16 and 17.

“Caroline and I have been really close since we were like 8,” Powanda said. “We both probably knew we would be right by each other. Whoever had the better day was going to pull it off.”

Fox Chapel junior Nina Busch is a member at Oakmont. She shot 87 to finish alone in third place and qualify for the PIAA tournament.

“The greens were slower, and they didn’t make the pins too tough,” Busch said. “But the wind was swirling, which made it tough. I just played mediocre today, but at least I am moving on.”

The top five finishers advance to the PIAA championship Oct. 20 at Heritage Hills Resort in York. They are Powanda, McConnell, Busch (87), Peters Township senior Ella McRoberts (88) and Butler junior Paige Scott (91), who won a four-girl playoff for the final spot.

Jones was at 5-over and playing well early before fading to a 99.

“The course is really tough,” Jones said. “Two-hundred fifty is a lot of bunkers. It took me a while to get out of the sand on No. 10.”

Powanda made a pair of solid pars on the final two holes to post the top score.

“That approach (on No. 17) can go really bad really quickly, with the bunkers around it,” Powanda said. “If you get in that bunker, it’s really hard to get it up and to get it to stop. That one shot I was thinking about all day and I really hoped I could get it.”

She hit a spinning approach out of the sand on No. 18 that nearly came off the green but got up and down for a par. That hole also played as a par 5.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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