STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Mark Johnson had never played a round at Centre Hills Country Club until Monday morning. Thanks to yet another weather pattern moving through the state, that's the only round he needed, as he fired a 1-under par 70 to win the 14th Art Wall, Jr. Memorial championship, presented by LECOM. Tuesday's second round was canceled due to rainy, wet conditions that rendered the golf course unplayable.
"I had very low expectations coming in," said Johnson, a 52-year old from Bethel Park, Pa. "I haven't been playing very well."
That may have been the case earlier this year, but it certainly was not the case on Monday, as Johnson rolled in six birdies en route to winning the event, which is open to golfers aged 40 and older.
Johnson began on the back nine and promptly bogeyed No. 10, but quickly got into red numbers with birdies on his next three holes. But three consecutive bogeys beginning on the 15th hole put him back over par at the turn.
The second nine was more of the same, with an early bogey on the 379-yard, par 4 second hole, followed by another set of three straight birdies, this time on holes 5-7. The seventh hole, a 182-yard par 3, particularly stood out.
"I hit it to about two or three feet and made a downhill putt in a tough hole location, so that was big," said Johnson, a PAGA Individual Member.
That birdie moved him back to 1-under for the round, and that's where he finished despite having a chance at birdie on each of his final two rounds of the day. But in the end, it was enough to hold off a trio of challengers who finished at even par 71 - West Shore Country Club's Clay Davidson, Frosty Valley's Sean Duffy and Hannastown Golf Club's Kevin Fajt.
In the Senior division (ages 55-64), The Kahkwa Club's Michael Capotis fired a 72 (+1) to capture the crown. He finished one shot ahead of Timothy Burns of Country Club of Scranton and two clear of Bob Crnjarich (Diamond Run Golf Club) and Joe Corsi (PAGA Individual Member).
The Super-Senior title was shared by Bob Allshouse of Hannastown Golf Club and Lee Lykens of Indiana Country Club, who each shot 1-under par rounds of 70. Lykens used four birdies (1, 7, 8, and 9) against three bogeys in the morning wave to post the clubhouse lead. Allshouse, playing in the afternoon, got into red figures with birdies on No. 9 and No. 10, then bounced back from two bogeys with a great birdie on the par 3 15th to settle in at 1-under.
The Team Competition, which is comprised of the best 2 of 3 scores for golfers from ages 40-64, was won by Diamond Run Golf Club, including Crnjarich's 75 and Rick Stimmel's 73 for a total of 6-over par 148.
The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the staff and membership at Centre Hills Country Club for their generosity and hospitality in hosting the championship.