WESTFIELD CENTER — After the recent weather Mother Nature has dished out, it’s no secret today’s opening round of 90th Ohio Open will be a wet one.
That doesn’t bother Pete Skirpstas one bit.
The 2006 Medina graduate, who played collegiately at Mount Olive College, was Medina County’s highest finisher at the event last summer — he tied for 12th — and is actually hoping for rain and muddy conditions as he looks to compete for the top prize.
“I love it. The wetter the better,” Skirpstas said. “I hit the ball a long way off the tee, so it really doesn’t matter if the course is wet. I can shoot 72 whether it’s sunny or it’s raining and snowing.
“When it rains, you can eliminate half the field sometimes because they just don’t want to be there.”
A year ago, Skirpstas was one of four countians to advance to the final round at Weymouth Country Club, and the 25-year-old took full advantage by shooting a 1-under-par 71 for a 4-under 212 total.
This year’s event moves to Westfield Group Country Club’s North and South Courses. The venues’ greens remind Skirpstas of his home course, Ironwood.
“It will be a little different because last year was super dry and this year will be super wet,” he said. “I like the course and have had a couple of practice rounds this past week where I’ve had a lot of birdies, so I feel confident.”
Despite placing high in his first Ohio Open last July, Skirpstas felt he left some putts out there. Today, he’s ready to finish those shots against a loaded field of top professional and amateur players from across the state.
“I’m more confident than I’ve ever been with my putter,” said Skirpstas, the grandson of 1956 Olympic heavyweight boxing champion Pete Rademacher. “I think I can win, and that’s my goal. I respect all of the guys (in the field), but I’m confidence in myself and believe that I can do it.
“It’s a tournament, but if you can’t beat the course, you’re not going to win.”
Skirpstas is one of 264 golfers who will compete — the most in the event in 10 years, according to Northern Ohio PGA tournament director Dave Griffith.
Former Hudson High and Kent State standout John Hahn, who competed at the U.S. Open last month, headlines the field along with former Ohio Open champions Rob Moss, Eric Frishette and Tony Mollica.
Medina resident Chris Wollmann tied for 29th a year ago and will be joined by Daniel Terry of Wadsworth and Bob Koch of Medina. Koch has made the final day of the last six Ohio Opens, highlighted by tying for 44th in 2011.
Six area participants are affiliated with Westfield Group Country Club — Medina’s Aaron Alspach, Bob Henighan, Mike King and Greg Woodard and Westfield Center’s Parker Hewit and Jason Martin. Hewit was four shots off the Ohio Open cut in 2012 and tied for 12th in 2011.
Griffith and his staff are hoping Mother Nature stays away for the next three days.
“The course is soft, obviously, but the team at Westfield has spent hours to get this course playable,” he said. “It’s in great shape. All we can do now is hope for the best and we anticipate playing 54 holes of golf.”
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