Mars High graduate Josh Bartley, left, receives a championship plaque after winning the Dick’s Sporting Goods Golf Championship Aug. 7.
VALENCIA — Summer golf tournaments have not ended well for Josh Bartley. Until recently. Bartley, a Valencia resident and 2014 Mars High School graduate, sank a par putt on No. 9 to force a playoff, then birdied the No. 10 playoff hole to win the Dick’s Sporting Goods Youth Championship Aug. 7 at Ligonier Country Club. Bartley carded a 1-under-par 69 for the tournament — sharing the lead with Javon Trout of Greensburg — before winning the playoff hole to top the field of 102 golfers. “I haven’t fared too well in summer tournaments,” Bartley said. “Too many times, I’ve been in the lead or close to it entering the final couple of holes and I’d wind up losing by a stroke. “It feels good to get the monkey off my back.” The Dick’s tournament marked the first summer golf event of the year for Bartley. He said he’s been practicing for college as he’ll be golfing for Indiana (Pa.) University this fall. “I won my club championship (Connoquenessing Country Club) before winning this one, so I’m leaving for college on a hot streak,” Bartley said. Trout played in the group ahead of Bartley and “I had no clue what he was shooting,” he said. Bartley’s tee shot on his final hole in regulation sailed to the right. He hooked his shot around some trees, chipped within three feet of the hole and drained the par putt to force the playoff. Trout won the choice of order for the playoff hole and opted to go first. His tee shot on the 420-yard, par-4 hole sailed left of a row of trees lining the fairway. Bartley’s tee shot was 300 yards down the middle. His second shot landed 20 feet past the flag, then rolled backward within two feet of the hole. “I made it easy on myself,” Bartley said. “But I never felt like I had it in the bag. I’ve played against Javon in tournaments before and he’s good enough to put the ball in the hole from where he was at for his second shot. “If I had my choice, I’d have gone first, too. But the No. 10 hole was the hole I began the day on and I birdied it the first time. Things just worked out for me.” Other local golfers playing among the top 25 at the Dick’s Sporting Goods youth championship were Carter Ehms (3rd with a 72) and Ross Bondo (12th with a 75) of Cranberry Township, Christian Evanchec (18th with a 76) of Saxonburg and Evan Hangliter (24th with a 77) of Seven Fields. A golfer “since I was old enough to pick up a club,” Bartley was a four-year member of the Mars High School golf team. He placed 13th at the PIAA Tournament as a senior, shooting a 74. He plans to major in management at IUP. “I want to become one of the top golfers on the team there,” Bartley said. “They only take their top five players on the road for matches and I want to be among them.” While he hopes to play competitive professional golf at some level after college, Bartley will be prepared to give lessons or work at a golf course or country club otherwise. “My plan is to stay in the sport in the best capacity I can,” he said.