Plum teen enjoying winning summer on links

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021 | 3:53 PM


Wes Lorish kicked off his summer of golf in winning fashion.

The rising freshman at Plum captured the boys 12-14 age division at the Tri-State Junior PGA Championship on June 9 at Fox Run in Beaver Falls.

Two weeks later, Lorish, 14, finished second in a playoff at the 101st Western Pennsylvania Golf Association Junior Championship at his home course at Willowbrook Golf Club in Apollo.

He was third among golfers of all ages at the Willowbrook Club Championship and has won four times on the Isaly’s junior tour.

It’s been another season of success for Lorish, whose stock continues to rise in the area junior golf ranks from a foundation of competition that started more than six years ago.

“I am happy with how I’ve played this summer,” Lorish said. “I am always looking to be better. I love the competition.”

Lorish is looking forward to the competition he will get at Monday and Tuesday’s 47th C.R. Miller Memorial Match Play Invitational at Hannastown Golf Club in Greensburg. He is one of the youngest golfers to ever receive an invitation to the tournament.

His resume of success this summer helped him secure one of the 16 spots for the tournament.

Lorish said playing at Hannastown on the Isaly’s tour this summer and a couple practice rounds there this week gives him confidence heading into the four-round event, which returns after not being held in 2020 because of the covid pandemic.

“It’s good to be prepared because those greens are tough,” Lorish said. “It makes me comfortable knowing the course.”

Franklin Regional graduate Palmer Jackson, a rising sophomore at Notre Dame, won in 2019.

Despite covid shortening the competition schedule in 2020, Lorish was able to play in 11 tournaments, mostly in the 11-14 age division. He won three and finished second three other times.

Lorish’s offseason of work and focus for the 2021 season included many rounds on a course simulator at Willowbrook. He’s played some of the country’s top courses, including Oakmont. He’s even played Willowbrook on the simulator.

“I was able to get up here and practice, which is nice,” he said. “I was never able to play this much in the offseason before.”

After a spring season of baseball at Plum, golf competition again beckoned, and he answered the call at Fox Run.

“It was a grind,” Lorish said of his win in the Tri-State 14-golfer field. “It was 36 holes. It’s tough to walk 36 holes. But I got the job done.”

He also won the Tri-State Junior PGA title (13-15 division) in 2020.

Lorish battled Weston Warden, a rising senior at Shady Side Academy, for the WPGA Junior Championship at Willowbrook.

The 36-hole event began June 21 but spilled over to a second day because heavy rains stopped play.

Both Warden and Lorish finished regulation play at 5-over with rounds of 74 and 75. Warden edged Lorish on the first playoff hole.

“I was playing really well, especially my second 18,” Lorish said. “I was coming off two birdies on 15 and 16. I hit my tee shot and my second shot on 17 and was probably 120 yards out when the horn sounded. If we kept playing, I felt I would’ve had a good chance at winning. When I came back, I didn’t play my best golf. But it was really fun competing against (Warden).”

Lorish said he didn’t let his younger age, as compared to many of the other golfers, get in the way of doing well at the Willowbrook Club Championship the weekend of July 11. He finished third behind a pair of former high school standouts, Andrew Reynolds (Plum, LaSalle University) and Matt Barto (Leechburg, Gannon University).

“Whenever I played with (Reynolds), I was just asking him questions about how he practices, how he approaches the game, what his routines are,” Lorish said. “He helped me a lot through all of that stuff.”

Lorish is set to play an Isaly’s tournament Thursday at South Hills Country Club. His wins on the tour came at Ligonier (June 14), Hannastown (June 28), Cedarbrook (June 30) and Willowbrook (July 12) with a second at Rolling Fields (June 18).

He’s ranked first on the Isaly’s tour (11-14 age division) with a 72.6 average.

“Wes is always maturing as a golfer,” said Brian Dunaway, Willowbrook club pro and Plum varsity head coach.

“He’s ready to fine-tune many aspects of his game and looks to avoid falling into any bad habits. That shows with the work he does here (at Willowbrook) and what he is able to learn in tournaments. He’s always here working. He’ll hit balls for about an hour before he goes out to play. If you want to get really good, you have to have that drive. He has that drive.”

Lorish said he is looking forward to joining the Plum golf team this fall and continuing to work with Dunaway.

“We have a couple of good freshman coming up,” Lorish said. “I think we will be able to compete and contend this year.

“(Coach Dunaway) has helped me a lot. When I first came to him, I had a lot of swing flaws. He’s really helped me to where I am today.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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