At AmateurGolf.com, we admit to loving the amateur sector of this game for the stories, the depth of the players, the remarkable courses, the history of the tournaments and the sheer love of the game displayed by amateur golfers. As 2018 comes to a close, we’ve gathered the year’s best stories for a countdown to the end of the season. Be sure to come back each day to relive the moments that made amateur golf great this year.
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Two legendary champions (Photo illustration)
Golf in Western Pennsylvania has a rich history. For one thing, the Western Pennsylvania Amateur is one of the oldest championships in the country, having been played since 1899 (skipping only 1917-18 during World War I).
A handful of names stick out on the past-champions scroll. Arnold Palmer won four titles in a row from 1949-1952, a feat Nathan Smith also completed from 2007-2010. But nobody’s streak has been longer than the one Sean Knapp authored from 1998-2003. His run of six titles in a row was impressive, but the feat Knapp pulled off with his latest victory is perhaps more so.
Knapp won his eighth title in the event on Aug. 20 at the age of 56. It tied the record for most titles in the event set by W.C. Fownes, Jr., the son of Oakmont Country Club founder H.C. Fownes. That record, by the way, was 102 years old.
Asked by a WPGA writer if his eighth title was more special than any others, Knapp replied, “Sure it is. I like winning when it’s of an historical nature. It’s been over 100 years since somebody has won eight. So, yes, this one is special.”
Fownes won his titles in 1904, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1913 and 1916.
Knapp first won this event in 1988 and before this fall, had last won it in 2003. That means 30 years have passed since his first victory in event and 15 years have passed since his last. It’s another remarkable detail of Knapp’s legacy.
Knapp has been in the final group each of the last three years and has never missed a cut. He’s never finished lower than 11th in the event, according to the WPGA.
“I’m also big on winning on historical courses,” he said. “And this is a very historic course. It’s a very big win for me.”
Knapp’s other in-state numbers are just as impressive. He is a nine-time winner of the Western Pennsylvania Mid-Amateur, a three-time winner of the Pennsylvania Mid-Amateur and Art Wall, Jr. Memorial and a four-time winner of the George Dressler Memorial Championship. Knapp won the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2017, the first year he was eligible. It was his first solo USGA title (he was a part of the 2009 Men’s State Team-winning squad from Pennsylvania).
Quotes and information from Mike Dudurich, WPGA writer
ABOUT THE WPGA Amateur
Started in 1899 and played all but two
1917-18, during World War I, the West
Amateur is one of the oldest regional
championships in the country. The 54-hole
tournament starts with a field of 78
holes the first day, with a cut to the low
and ties (or within seven shots of the
the second day. 18 holes of stroke play
qualifying held at multiple sites for non-
players prior to the championship.
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