Pine-Richland golfer makes clutch putt to qualify for WPIALs, erase bad memory

Sunday, September 25, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Toby Kitay stood over a 10-foot putt needing to sink it to qualify for the WPIAL tournament.

It was an all too familiar feeling for the Pine-Richland senior.

“My sophomore year I was in the same situation and missed a 5-foot putt,” Kitay said.

This time he got his revenge.

Kitay made the putt to hit the target score of 81 at the Section 3-4A tournament at Suncrest Golf Course in Butler and was one of three Rams to qualify for the WPIAL tournament. The first round of the WPIAL tournament was scheduled for Tuesday at Champion Lakes Golf Course in Ligonier.

The other two Rams who qualified were Blaise Masciantonio, who finished tied for third with a 74, and Will Hilton, who shot 78. Masciantonio is a senior and Hilton is a sophomore.

Kitay was able to calm his nerves and hit a clean stroke to qualify for WPIALs for the first time.

“I said to myself this is going to be either a heck of a story or a heck of a heartbreak,” Kitay said. “I wanted to make a heck of a story, I guess, and drained the putt.”

Getting to share the moment with a pair of teammates was a rewarding experience. The trio celebrated with a dinner at Noodles & Company.

“It was really cool,” Kitay said. “Blaise and I have been playing together for a couple of years now. I’m looking forward to playing with him in the next round. Will is in his first year on the varsity team, so it was really cool to see how much he has improved throughout the season. I was happy to see him make it through.”

Suncrest Golf Course is a home course of sorts for the Rams. The junior varsity team plays its home matches there. Kitay’s first moment playing for Pine-Richland was trying out at Suncrest, so he said it was a full circle moment for him to qualify for WPIALs at the same course.

Kitay and the rest of the golfers had to wait a bit to get started due to a rain delay and weren’t even sure if they’d get the round going, which built up some anxiety.

“I hit a good tee shot on the first hole, which was important for me,” Kitay said. “We had about an hour-long rain delay, so getting off to a good start and hitting one in the middle of the fairway was crucial for calming the nerves.”

Hilton also felt some anxiousness while waiting out the rain delay and said he did not get off to a good start but found a groove late in the front nine.

“I was probably 5- or 6-over par early on, but I got on a birdie run on six and seven and sank a couple of long putts,” Hilton said. “Then I added another birdie a couple of holes later.”

The string of birdies helped stabilize the round and allowed him to advance on his first try.

“I felt like playing (at Suncrest) gave the (Pine-Richland) guys a little bit of an advantage,” Hilton said. “We’ve played there. We know the course and where to hit the ball.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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