Apollo, PA – Anthony Lewis scooped the ball from the cup on No. 18 and with his free right hand extended, walked across the green at The Links at Spring Church to accept congratulations from Butler County Community College golf coach Bill Miller.
“Now,” Lewis told Miller, “I can finally break a smile.”
As could Michael Rozzi.
Lewis and Rozzi, BC3’s No. 3 and No. 4 golfers entering the two-day Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference championship, followed their lowest rounds of the season on Saturday with even lower ones on Sunday to finish first and second in the tournament and lead the Pioneers to their fifth straight title and ninth overall.
BC3’s men’s golfers posted a combined 637, 12 strokes better than Westmoreland County Community College, which held a 3-stroke lead in the tournament and over the Pioneers entering Sunday’s final round. Westmoreland placed second with a 649, followed by the Community College of Allegheny County-Boyce, the Community College of Allegheny County-North and Garrett College of McHenry, Md.
Only top four scores from each team in each round are counted toward the final total.
Miller, whose squad was 13-2 in the regular season, was also named Sunday as the WPCC coach of the year for the fourth time since 2013.
A 2010 Butler High graduate who finished the tournament with a 7-over-par 151, Lewis became the first BC3 golfer to win the individual championship since Knoch High graduate Chris Kier shot a 152 in 2014.
“Anthony and Michael were terrific”
Lewis, who averaged 81.3 in the regular season, fired a 77 on Saturday and a 74 on Sunday on the par-72 course. Rozzi, a 2016 graduate of Neshannock High who averaged an 83.7, followed an opening-round 79 with a 75 on Sunday and a two-day 154.
“Anthony and Michael were terrific,” Miller said. “Not necessarily a surprise, but throughout the year, Noah Morgan and Tyler Good were No. 1 and 2 as far as average. Anthony and Michael just came in and played very, very well both days.”
Rozzi’s best round of the season had been an 81 on Sept. 8 at Valley Green Golf and Country Club, Greensburg.
“I put the ball in a lot of good positions today,” Rozzi said. “My irons were working.”
Lewis’ top round had been a 79 on Sept. 29, also at Valley Green.
“I like pressure situations,” Lewis said. “I tend to perform a little bit better in pressure situations. There was some pressure today, but not enough where it broke me.”
Lewis “kept his head together,” opponent says
Lewis was tied for the lead with Scott Myshin after the first round and was paired with the Westmoreland golfer for Sunday’s final round.
“He played solid,” Myshin said of Lewis. “We were close all day long and he kept his head together and I messed up on two holes. That’s all it takes.”
Lewis rebounded with birdie on the par-3 No. 4 after bogeying his first three holes.
“Four was definitely where I turned it around,” Lewis said. “I started off bogey, bogey, bogey. Plus-3 isn’t the best way to start.”
Myshin ended with a 79 on Sunday and a two-day total of 156.
“We stayed focused”
BC3’s top two golfers entering the tournament — Morgan, a 2016 graduate of Allegheny-Clarion Valley High with a 78.5 average; and Good, a 2017 graduate of Lincoln High in Ellwood City who averaged a 79 — each shot a two-day 172.
“One thing I always thought that was the best part about our team was our depth, which showed,” Miller said. “Our No. 3 and No. 4 men came through. And Matt Benson was a key player.”
Benson, a 2016 Shenango High graduate, fired a 164 for BC3 and Luke Ostermeyer, a 2017 graduate of Laurel High, a 173.
“We stayed positive and we stayed focused on just making the next shot,” Benson said. “You can’t get hurt over just one shot.”
Good, Morgan and Rozzi were also named Sunday to the WPCC’s all-conference team.
Westmoreland’s Kylee Surike won the inaugural WPCC women’s championship with a 177, 19 strokes better than BC3’s Julia Fischer, a 2017 Freeport High graduate. CCAC-North’s Maggie Risher placed third.
“Yesterday I played really well and I just kept up the pace,” said Surike, who followed an 88 on Saturday with an 89 on Sunday. “Today I struggled a little bit to start out with, but I was able to pick up the win.”
Fischer, the first female on Miller’s team in 14 years and only the second at BC3 since 1968, followed a first-round 94 with a 102 on Sunday.
“I think I probably could have played better today,” Fischer said. “I had a couple really bad shots. But overall, for this tournament being my first one, I think I did fairly well.”