South Fayette golfer Luke Lestini playing well, having fun

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Thursday, September 26, 2019 | 3:29 PM


South Fayette golfer Luke Lestini entered the season with a new focus.

He was as one of the top returning boys golfers in the WPIAL after finishing 16th in the state last year. While other golfers might concentrate on improving their short game or tee shots, Lestini focuses on enjoying the game.

“The more fun I have, the lower my scores are,” Lestini said. “I feel like I have been playing pretty good. I feel like I did last year. It has been really fun. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?”

Lestini continued his strong senior season at the WPIAL Class AAA boys individual semifinals on Sept. 23. He finished second overall with a 4-over-par 74 at the event held at Hannastown Golf Club in Greensburg.

He finished one stroke behind Pine-Richland’s Donnie Professori.

“The Hannastown greens are really tough,” South Fayette coach Robert Ruffolo said. “He played really disciplined and smart. His did well with his approach.”

Lestini said dealing with the slope of the greens at Hannastown was his greatest challenge. Overcoming the greens required poise to avoid picking up extra strokes.

“You have to putt downhill on a lot of the holes,” Lestini said. “That makes it really tough. There were some tough holes where you can make three putts quickly. That can make it mentally stressful.”

Lestini has qualified for the WPIAL championships three times during his high school career. His success can be partially credited to his play in summer events. Lestini played in several tournaments, including American Junior Golf Association and Junior PGA events.

“The more competitive tournaments you can play, the better it molds you as a player,” Lestini said. “It can help you feel more pressure when you need to make a putt or hit a shot. It makes you more comfortable in those situations.”

Lestini wasn’t the only South Fayette golfer to qualify for the WPIAL championships. Sophomore James Cavrak finished 12th at the semifinals with a 79. It will be the first time two Lions golfers competed at the WPIAL championships since 2013.

“James was a freshman last year, and we played all the matches together,” Lestini said. “It really helped us both grow as golfers. We push each other to be better. He’s a great player. It is great that we can both get to experience Fox Chapel together since it is such a nice course.”

The enthusiasm Lestini shows as a leader has benefited the Lions during the season. Ruffolo said having a veteran like Lestini on the roster has been invaluable.

“Luke asked to play with James last year,” Ruffolo said. “He wanted to teach James the right way to play. Luke will help any kid on the team. He speaks confidently and works hard with the kids. His leadership has been tremendous as it was last year.”

With only a handful of events left for the season, many of the WPIAL qualifiers have big dreams of district or state titles. But for Lestini, it is all about letting the good times roll.

“I just want to try my best and have fun,” Lestini said. “Just to know I laid it all out there and tried my best is my goal. If it turns into something really nice, that’s a plus.”

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