Quaker Valley’s Eva Bulger overcomes challenging set-up to claim 4th WPIAL girls golf title

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Sunday, October 9, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Eva Bulger is a uniquely talented golfer.

This season, the Quaker Valley senior became just the second girl in history to win four consecutive WPIAL titles.

The left-handed hitting Bulger did so by defeating senior Claire Konieczny of Geibel by three strokes at the WPIAL Class 2A girls final round Oct. 4 at Valley Brook Country Club in McMurray.

“The course was very difficult today,” Bulger said afterwards. “You want to make putts, but at the same time, you have to respect the speed of the greens. They challenged us with a longer set-up today, and I missed a few irons early that were costly.

“I made a swing adjustment after the fifth or sixth hole and hit it better thereafter. I didn’t expect it to go perfectly today. It never does. Golf is really a game of misses. I am happy that it all worked out.”

Bulger matched Hopewell’s Jodi Figley, who won four championships from 1983-86.

And there’s a Quaker Valley connection. Figley, who was at the course to congratulate Bugler, is the mother of Adam Renner, a senior member of the QV boys golf team.

“Mrs. Figley-Renner was here today for me and that was pretty special,” Bulger said. “She is a tremendous role model.”

After shooting an 8-over 80 at Youghiogheny Country Club in the first round to take a four-stroke lead, Bulger followed up with an 85 at the par-72 Valley Brook course.

The QV senior improved by five strokes between the front and back nine to capture her historic fourth gold medal.

Bulger carded a 45 with two pars and five bogeys on the front nine and a 40 with six pars and two bogeys on the back nine.

“Eva knew she wasn’t at her best today but stayed tough,” QV coach Greg Vecchi said. “Her putting kept her in it all day. Valley Brook is a challenging course. Eva just made it tougher at times with mistakes that she normally doesn’t make. She definitely steadied herself on the back nine.

“Winning four titles in a row is a big deal and can’t be beat. I think that sunk in a little while after she finished. It was all deserved since she works so hard at it. And where did she go after the match was over? To practice some more.”

Birdies were sparse on the 5,575-yard course, as Deer Lakes senior Anna Yourish finished with three birdies — on the par-4 seventh, 10th and 12th holes — and Eden Christian freshman Pearl Lundgren had a birdie on the par-3 15th hole.

Konieczny carded 10 pars and five bogeys at Valley Brook.

After finishing No. 1, Bulger and Konieczny virtually matched shots the rest of the way. Konieczny shot a 44 on the front nine and 40 on the back nine, giving her back-to-back 84 scores in the two-day event.

Bulger ended up 21-over par; Konieczny was 24 over.

Greensburg Central Catholic junior Izabela Aigner claimed third place with a two-round total of 169 (25 over), four strokes behind Bulger.

“Claire and Izzy played great,” Bulger said. “They’re both terrific players and tough competitors. While my focus never wandered to where my score was or where that put me, it felt like it was really close. This is the fun part. There’s no way to replicate these conditions in practice.”

The new WPIAL format this year had the championships being played in two rounds on two courses one week apart.

“As a player, we have to adapt and accept whatever format and venues are chosen,” Bulger said. “I think it was awesome that Valley Brook hosted us and we are very grateful for the awesome professional staff and grounds crew. The place is a 10.”

The top nine WPIAL 2A finishers advanced to the PIAA individual championships Oct. 17-18 at Penn State’s Blue Course.

“My goal at states is to give it my all, swing freely and have fun. That’s easier said than done, but that’s my plan,” Bulger said.

Bulger, Konieczny and Aigner will be joined at Penn State by Yourish, Lundgren, Shady Side Academy senior Neely Nicholson, Freeport junior Lillie Snow, Shady Side Academy senior Delaney Mulderig and Seneca Valley senior Kennedy Norton, who defeated Bethlehem-Center senior Gianna Petersen in a playoff to claim the final PIAA spot.

Bulger, who competes for the boys golf team at Quaker Valley, has qualified for the PIAA tournament four times.

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