Plum golfer Wes Lorish motivated by finish at PIAA tournament

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Sunday, October 29, 2023 | 11:01 AM


One of Wes Lorish’s main goals throughout the 2023 fall golf season was to make it back to states and have a shot at improving on last year’s tie for 10th place.

Moving from the White Course at Penn State over to the Blue Course this year, Lorish moved up the ladder and was in the main mix throughout a Class 3A championship tournament dominated by the WPIAL.

At the end of 36 holes of golf over two days, Lorish found himself in a three-way playoff with Butler’s Hunter Swidzinski and Penn-Trafford’s Nick Turowski.

While the playoff didn’t fall in his favor — he finished tied for second with Turowski — Lorish said he played well and up to his expectations.

“The first day, I went really low and shot 6-under,” Lorish said of his 66 over the first 18 holes.

“The second day, I was able to stay under par (71). I probably could’ve been a little lower on the second day if not for a couple mistakes, but overall, I thought I played a strong tournament.

“The Blue Course is definitely more challenging. There are more hazards you can get yourself into trouble with. On the White Course, you can play your own game and hit the ball anywhere and still be fine. On the Blue Course, you definitely have to be more accurate in placing the ball.”

Lorish’s 66 and 71 put him at 7-under for the tournament. He sank a birdie putt on the final hole of his second round to join the playoff.

He, Turowski, the WPIAL champion, and Swidzinski went to a three-hole playoff to decide the champion.

Lorish was eliminated with a bogey on the first playoff hole, the par-4 10th, as Swidzinski went on to birdie the third playoff hole to claim the title.

Lorish birdied No. 10 in the first round and shot par on it in the second round.

“I hit my drive a little bit right,” Lorish said of his first shot on the playoff 10th.

“I hit it good, but it was a little bit downwind, and I ended up with kind of a bad break. I was behind a tree. I tried to hit a hero shot to try and get myself back. I just wasn’t able to pull it off.”

Swidzinski roared back with an 8-under 64 in the final round after shooting 1-over 73 in Round 1. Turowski was consistent with rounds of 69 and 68.

“If I had made one more putt, hit a shot a little differently, or saved one stroke here or there, I could’ve been a state champion,” Lorish said.

“You don’t think about that too much, though, when you are in the middle of a round. I was just going for it. That’s golf.”

Lorish, a junior, said he is looking forward to having another year and hopefully getting back to Penn State and another shot at a state title.

This year’s journey to the state tournament for Lorish began back on Sept. 18 at Meadowink Golf Course in Murrysville. Lorish shot a 75 to lead all golfers at the Section 4 qualifier.

He said a round at Meadowink during Plum’s section match with Franklin Regional five days earlier helped him strategize for the sectional.

“The first time there, I played aggressively to see what would get me in trouble and what was worth doing so I was prepared when I went back” he said.

“I was taking down mental notes and where I wanted to be on certain holes and what I wanted to leave myself with to maximize my opportunities to play my best golf.”

A week later, Lorish was among those who finished in the top 36 in the first round of the WPIAL championship at Latrobe Country Club and advanced to the finals Oct. 2 at Valley Brook Golf Club in Canonsburg.

He was one stroke better at Valley Brook, shooting a 79 to finish 14th (15 over) and in a tie for the final spot to states with Fox Chapel’s Carson Kittsley and South Fayette’s Sam Bishop.

“At Latrobe, I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, but I still made the cut,” Lorish said.

“My main goal at Valley Brook was to clinch a spot at states because everything restarts once you get there. I knew I wasn’t going to win WPIALs because I was too far back.

“I just played, and I didn’t know exactly where I was at, but I had a decent idea.”

Lorish won on the first playoff hole, carding a birdie to lock up his trip to states.

“My thought going into that hole was just to get a birdie and put these guys away,” he said.

“I was working all year to get back to states. I didn’t play my best at WPIALs, but I felt I deserved a spot at states based on what I had done all season. I hit a 4-iron into the fairway, a wedge to about 5 feet, and then I drilled the birdie putt.”

Lorish said he is taking a break from tournament golf but still will work on his game from time to time. His focus now is on Plum basketball workouts to be ready for the preseason practices which begin in a couple of weeks.

While Lorish was focused on tournament golf, he also helped the Plum boys make a return to the WPIAL team tournament.

The Mustangs scored key Section 4 wins over Franklin Regional and Kiski Area down the stretch to secure the No. 2 spot behind champion Central Catholic.

Plum’s quest for a second-straight trip to the team finals was stopped in the semifinals at Duck Hollow Golf Course in Uniontown. The Mustangs placed seventh out of nine with a team score of 406, six strokes away from a top-three qualifying finish.

“Our team really got better and better as the season went on,” Lorish said.

“We lost a pretty big match to Kiski early on, but after that, we really focused and got dialed in on winning matches and doing what we could for each other to make sure we made it back to WPIALs. The last couple of section matches, we played pretty well, and it showed how much we had improved.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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