Central York's Minkin one shot off lead after first day of PIAA golf action
After one day of the PIAA Individual Golf Championships, Gus Minkin is in the hunt, and that's just where he wants to be.
In fact, take away one hole (the 424-yard, par-4 ninth), and the Central York High School senior might be leading.
However, a triple bogey on No. 9 removed any hopes of that. The District 3 and East Regional champion shot a 3-over-par 74 to tie for fourth in Class AAA boys' action following the first 18 holes at Heritage Hills Golf Resort. The final 18-hole round begins Tuesday morning. He's just one stroke off the lead.
"I was just thinking during my practice round when I got to the ninth on Sunday that I had never been out of bounds or in the water on that hole and I did both of them (Monday)," said Minkin, who recently accepted a scholarship to continue his golf career next year at the University of Minnesota. "That's a tough hole, but overall, I'm pleased with where I am, especially having a triple.
"It's a relief that the college thing is out of the way. It's been a long process, but I'm excited. They get to play at Hazeltine in Minnesota, which is where the Ryder Cup will be (in 2016)."
Minkin and Central teammate Joe Parrini, who shot a 75, are among 12 golfers within three shots of the lead. Zack Ford (Meadville), freshman Patrick Kelly (Cathedral Prep) and Geoff Rice (Great Valley), who finished 22nd in the East Regional, were the first-day leaders with 73s.
Also from York County, the Eastern duo of Kevin Crumbling and Andrew Davis shot 79 and 80, respectively. Davis, who started on the 10th tee, shot a 35 on his front nine, but ballooned to a 45 on the back side.
On the girls' side, Central sophomore Julianne Lee shot a 10-over 82. Mia Kness of Peters Township leads the AAA girls' division with a 1-over 73, followed by Radnor's Brynne Walker, who had a 74.
"Gus should feel good where he's at," Central coach Mike Ruby said. "I know he can go low on this course, and I know he's capable of shooting 2- or 3-under par.
"No one would deserve it more than Gus. He's one of the most likeable and coachable kids I've ever had. I know getting the offer from Minnesota helped, too. I think it was a big relief for him. Their coach saw Gus play at the regional and came back and offered him a scholarship."
Similar to his winning District 3 round, Minkin didn't make many birdies — he had one for the entire round — but outside of the disaster at nine, he had only one bogey, too.
Minkin, who is the first male golfer from Central to win a district title in 30 years, missed birdie opportunities on 10 and 11. His tee shot on the difficult uphill 215-yard par-3 12th hit the green about 30 feet away from the pin. Minkin's aggressive birdie try rolled six feet past, but he managed to save par.
"I told him if he could score well on the par 3s, he would be OK," Ruby said, "and other than the bogey at 15, he did."
Minkin registered pars on 13 and 14 before experiencing a hiccup on the par-3 15th. His tee shot was short left of the pin, but he chipped to within two feet. However, he missed the short par putt to go to 4-over.
But Minkin rebounded with a drive that was just short of the green on the downhill 357-yard 16th. He chipped to within a foot of the pin and easily made birdie. Another beautiful drive set him up for about a 10-foot birdie putt that he just missed on 17, and he nailed a 300-yard drive on the difficult 471-yard finishing hole. His second shot put him about 45 feet away for birdie, but he came up a little short. However, he sank the par putt to walk away pleased.
"I'm going to have to make some birdies if I want to win," Minkin said. "But I think I can do it."
— Reach George Hammond at email@example.com.