It was pretty much a foregone conclusion who would win Frank B. Fuhrer Jr.’s final game. Invitational on Wednesday.
PGA rookie Eric Cole, 35, sealed the title Monday morning when he shot a 7-under-par 28 on the back of the ninth of his first round and built a commanding lead at Pittsburgh Field Club.
Someone has to go down and hunt down Cole. Nobody did. It became a battle for second place.
Cole, who is 39th in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings and has earned $2.9 million this season, shot a 3-under 67 during the final round and finished 11-under 269. It was his second time winning the tournament. The first came out in 2014.
Four-time champion David Bradshaw, the defending champion, is second with a 2-under 278, and Wexford amateur and Penn State player Jim Myers is third after scoring an even-par 280. Myers was the low amateur for the second straight season.
TJ Howe, the 2017 winner, was fourth. Mike Van Syckle, the 2013 winner, and Connor Schmidt and Berry Borja are tied for fifth.
Ligonier Valley Golf Club head pro Chris McKnight won a big section.
Cole, who played in last week’s PGA event in Hartford, Connecticut, didn’t have to play in this year’s event, but given what the late Frank Fuhrer Jr. meant to him and his career, he felt obliged. He plays.
Words from the winner. ????
Champion (2014, 2023)
Frank B Fuhrer Jr
Pittsburgh Field Club.
Eric graciously donated his real $20,000 to be used for local charity.
Eric Cole -11 (269)
63 | 71 | 68 | 67
Leaderboard link in bio. pic.twitter.com/hXeJ1PY7xj
– Tri-State PGA (TriStatePGA) June 28, 2023
He drove to Pittsburgh from Hartford after canceling his flight and arrived around midnight. It was on the tee Monday for 8:10 am BST.
The Fuhrer’s son, Frank Fuhrer III, said that his father loved to help the less fortunate. He has helped a lot of golfers and families over the years.
Cole pulled over the Fuhrer Jr. announcing that he was donating his real $20,000 to charities (TBD) in the Pittsburgh area.
“It was a good nine holes, and it definitely helped,” Cole said of his opening round. “I know I was tired, but I got through it. The biggest thing was to be here for the first time on Monday so that I could compete and honor Mr. Fuhrer at the last tournament.”
Cole said he wasn’t sure if he had fared better than his first round when he parred nine of the final 14 holes to finish with a 7-under 63.
“I’ve had some good runs,” said Cole. “We’ve played a lot of tough tournaments where scoring was difficult. I don’t think I’ve done any better than that.
“I had a better hitting day (Wednesday) than I did Tuesday. I hit it a lot better. I just tried to do the same things. If it works, you don’t want to get away from it.”
Cole has played in 11 consecutive PGA events and is a nominee for Rookie of the Year. He is the son of PGA legend Bobby Cole and LPGA player Laura Baugh. He skipped the tournament this week in Detroit.
“What matters most to me is being here,” said Cole. “Mr. Führer gave me the opportunity to play here, and I saved my career when I won. It is a great honor for me to win the last edition of this tournament, and it was something very important to me.
“I’ve been very lucky and had a good year this season, and that’s something I think fits the theme of what Mr. Führer has done so much with his life and with generosity and charitable giving. It’s not really about the money for me.”
The Fuhrer passed away on May 21, 2022.
Being a low-key amateur meant a lot to him, Meyers said, and he was grateful for Mr. Fuhrer’s invitation six years ago.
“It says a lot about being a humble amateur,” Myers said. “I won last year, but my results are much better this season. Coming to the event means a lot, and it’s an event I was looking forward to.”
McKnight was the first – and only – winner of the event. The big section has been added this season.
He has outperformed seven other top players.
“It was a great honor to be a Tri-State PGA major,” Knight said. “It’s great to be included. I played really well in three rounds and managed to get my W.”
Kevin Shields, 51, has won the Führer twice during his career and was invited back to the final after being banned under the Führer rule for players who miss his tournament for another tournament, regardless of whether it is a PGA or USGA event. Once you miss, you are banned.
The Fuhrer’s son changed it for the final event.
“You want to win any prestigious event in your hometown,” said Shields. “The special meaning for me is that I won it in the same year my children were born. Mr. Führer was very generous, and winning it twice in those two years was very special and beneficial too.”
Shields said the family did the right thing by inviting the former champions back.
Sean Knapp, 61, was one of three amateurs to win the event. The others are Nathan Smith and Fuhrer III. He was a three-time champion.
“You’re obviously disappointed when anything ends, but that was last year,” Knapp said. “I’m happy after taking a break because I was able to come back and participate. It was special to win and to have your name on the trophy, especially a couple of times.”
Führer III spoke briefly about his father and all the things his father did in the golf area.
He concluded by repeating what the late Bob Hope said at the end of his show: “Thanks for the memories.”
Paul Scofield is a writer for the Tribune-Review. You can reach Paul via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .