Plum grad Reynolds rises in Western Pa. golf ranks |
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Bill Beckner Jr.
Plum's Andrew Reynolds hits his approach shot to the third green during the PIAA West Region Golf Championships at Tom’s Run Golf Course on Oct. 14, 2014, in Blairsville.

Andrew Reynolds left the pro shop last Wednesday at Westmoreland Country Club with a plastic drawstring bag dangling from his hand, the contents of which might seem ordinary to some.

Inside a box, inside the bag, inside the story, were a pair of brand new size 11 Footjoy golf shoes.

Here’s the catch: the shoes didn’t cost him a dime. But the size matched his finish.

Reynolds earned $185 in pro-shop credit after he tied for 11th at the three-day West Penn Open, quite the debut for the recent Plum graduate who has shown this summer that he is very much a part of the next wave of young Western Pennsylvania golf talent.

If the shoe fits.

“This (summer season) has been my best, easily,” said Reynolds, who played three steady rounds at the West Penn Open, carding scores of 72, 73 and 1-under 70 for a solid finish at 2-over-par 215. “I think my game is maturing, and I am thinking my way around the golf course more.”

Reynolds is headed to La Salle University and thinks he can compete for a starting position right away.

“If I keep playing the way I am, maybe (the No.) 1, 2 or 3 spot,” he said. “There are only two or three guys coming back. The key for me is staying on my own game.”

Reynolds’ summer to remember included solid play in several events featuring some of the region’s top pros and amateurs.

He tied for fourth at the WPGA’s Spring Stroke Play Championship at Sunnehanna Country Club, shooting a two-day total of 1-under 139. Renowned amateur Nathan Smith won the tournament at 5-under.

Reynolds also qualified for the West Penn Amateur, where he missed the cut, and reached the bracket-round at the Siegel Match Play before losing to decorated Oakmont amateur Sean Knapp in the first round.

Another area standout, incoming Gannon sophomore Matt Barto, a Leechburg graduate, can attest to Reynolds’ patience-first play. He caddied for his good friend at the West Penn Open.

“He has great confidence and gets in a great zone while playing,” Barto said. “It’s surprising more putts didn’t go for him because he played too good to be over par for three days.”

Reynolds, who said he could have scored much lower if not for some putting issues — several players, including champion Mike Van Sickle said the same thing — made nine birdies for the tournament, including five in his final round. He was 4-under on par 5s but 6-over on the par 4s.

“I think playing with a lot of the older guys has helped my game, too,” Reynolds said. “There are so many good players out here. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how (the West Penn Open) went.”

Reynolds said the Open will probably be his last event this summer before he heads off to college.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at [email protected].

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