The local contingent is strong as the West Virginia Golf Association's Junior Match Play Championship returns to Parkersburg Country Club today and Sunday.
Austin Root of Williamstown and Tyler Cardenas of Parkersburg Catholic join Parkersburg High School senior Alan Cooke as representatives in the 16-player field.
Two years ago at the age of 16, Root won two matches before losing to eventual champion Brian Anania in 21 holes.
"I never trailed and was winning all the way through then Brian birdies the last few holes and caught up," Root said. "I felt like whoever won that match would win the whole thing because there was so much momentum and both of us were playing really well."
Not only do Root, Cardenas and Cook hail from the Mid-Ohio Valley, but they share something else in common.
The trio each turned in a round of 4-over-par 76 during last Sunday's qualifier at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club in Hurricane.
Cardenas and Cook traveled to the event together and fortunately both made the cut.
"We talked about that on the way there," Cardenas said. "I thought it would be awkward if one made it and the other one didn't."
Last year at this time, Cooke was just returning from a visit with his grandmother in Florida. He had tweaked his grip and swing and didn't fare so well at the qualifier.
"It was ugly - I shot like a 91," Cooke said. "This year, I hit the ball right. My putting needs to come around a little bit, but I definitely hit my irons and driver well so hopefully I can get a few putts to go in."
Parkersburg Country Club serves as a home course to both Cardenas and Cooke.
Having experience with the City Cup, which pits Parkersburg High School against Parkersburg South in a Ryder Cup format, could pay dividends for Cooke, who went undefeated in four matches during his career as a Big Red.
Last year's Junior Match Play runner-up Thadd Obecny II of Wheeling earned the No. 1 seed, while second-seed George Hamrick of Red House earned an exemption for winning the 2011 Junior Top Flite Player of the Year.
Saturday's first round begins at 7:28 a.m. As the eighth seed, Cardenas will face Matt Walters in the opening round at 7:36 a.m. Root's first opponent is William Evans of Charleston at 8:08 a.m., while Cooke opposes David Coram of Wheeling at 8:24 a.m.
The rest of the bracket has Obecny playing 16th-seed Thomas Frazier of Huntington; fourth-seed Chris Williams of Scott Depot vs. 13th-seed Grant Humphrey of Poca; fifth-seed Alex Hambel of Hurricane vs. 12th-seed Hunter Woods of Morgantown; and third-seed Dylan Wojcik of Wheeling vs. 14th-seed Craig Buchanan of Oak Hill.
Golfers who win twice return to PCC on Sunday for the semifinals and championship.
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org