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Notebook: The Armstrong’s — home of Porter Cup champions

PC NOTEBOOK: Wu comes through in final round.

By Bill McGrath Jul 21, 2018

LEWISTON — For those wanting to win the Porter Cup championship, reserve a room in the Armstrong household the next time around. The hosts are working some kind of magic these days.

Dena Armstrong, one of the tournament’s directors, hit the daily double this year with both the men’s and women’s champions staying there. When Thomas Walsh won the 60th tournament on Saturday, it marked the second men’s winner in four years for the Armstrongs, Dena and husband Jack. Walsh follows Denny McCarthy, the 2015 champion. Both played at the University of Virginia.

“Denny had a special place in my heart. He was with me for five years before he won,” Dena said.

This was Walsh’s second Porter Cup. He played in the 2016 tournament, finishing tied for 11th, but missed last year because of an injury.

“I love working with UVA guys,” Dena said. “We’ve had a number of them. And Thomas will be back next year. It’s a Walker Cup year so that will be great.”

Walsh said he felt right at all week.

“They make us feel extremely comfortable and take us in for the week,” Walsh said after Saturday’s final round. “They’re our mom for the week and it’s incredible, and we couldn’t do it without them for sure.”

Wu saves best for last

Brandon Wu, the 2017 champion, played more like he did a year ago when he posted a 2-under 68 on Saturday. He tied for 49th at 290 after a rocky 77 in the first round and a 72 and 73 after that. “I struggled on the greens all week and I put it in some bad spots,” he said.

He was center stage at the awards ceremony, helping Walsh into his green champion’s blazer. “I’m looking forward to it, I think it’s a cool tradition,” he said shortly before the tournament ended. “I remember last year when Harrison (Endycott, the 2016 winner) put the jacket on for me.”

Despite the numbers on his scorecard, he said he enjoyed his week. “This tournament is incredible. I think it’s so cool how the whole community gets into it. The host families, the sponsors, the whole crowd coming out to watch. It’s almost like a professional tournament.”

Wu got a taste of a pro event when he played in the LECOM Health Challenge in July and finished tied for 41st. It is part of the Tour. His Porter Cup victory earned him an invitation.

“It was an awesome experience,” Wu said. “It was my first professional experience. It was nice to get out and see what the pros are dealing with and how you stack up against them.”

He will be a senior at Stanford and thinks he will still be an amateur at this time next summer, so he plans to play here again.

Awesome Aussies

Australian players have won three Porter Cup titles, the most recent Harrison Endicott two years ago. On Saturday, four of them were among the last five threesomes and all of them finished in the top 15.

Blake Windred of Cardiff South tied for second with Ben Schlottman and Tyler Strafaci at 8-under 272, three strokes behind Walsh. Windred surged to 9-under with a birdie at 15, then dropped into a tie for runner-up with a bogey at 18. His 65 was one of four for low score in the final round.

“It was really good today,” he said. “I felt confident that I could go at the flags. That last bogey cost me a little bit, but I was happy with the way I finished.”

In brief

Walsh’s victory gives him a berth in the LECOM Health Challenge next summer. It is played on the Upper Course of Peek’n Peak Resort in Clymer. … The Porter Cup will move back to its traditional fourth week of July in 2019. The dates are July 24-27. … Scott Harvey and Kevin O’Connell tied for the best score among the mid-amateurs at 5-under 275. Harvey, playing in his 10th Porter Cup, has finished in the top 10 four times. … Director Michael Vitch said the top 25 finishers in this year’s tourney earned automatic invitations to next’s year’s event. The cutoff is 282.

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