Family bonds forged at Porter Cup

Melding the men’s and women’s golf tournaments for the first time in the Porter Cup’s 64 years has fostered a family atmosphere with a touch of sibling rivalry this week at Niagara Falls Country Club. Porter Cup: Noah Kumar, Sarah Gallagher lead entering final round; Niagara County’s Anthony Delisanti in contention

Three brother-sister pairings are part of the event’s overall field of 90 amateur players: Cade and Julia McLaughlin from Sarasota, Florida, Jacob and Chloe Tarkany from Scottsdale, Arizona, and Michael and Ella Weber from Burlington, Ontario.

Ella Weber, 17, is playing in her third Porter Cup, tied for fifth place entering Saturday’s final round. She recruited her older brother to this year’s event.

“My sister raved about the course and the hospitality in the town,” said Michael Weber, 19, a sophomore at Miami University in Ohio. 

It also helped that father John Weber, who has been caddying for his daughter, raised the family into Bills fandom.

“We love coming down here to Bills country,” Ella Weber said.

“We grew up rooting for a Super Bowl and we always will be,” Michael Weber said. “I’ll be wearing a Bills hat a couple days this week. This is a spot we’ve been to for hockey growing up, and it’s always fun to be back in Buffalo.”

Cade McLaughlin played in last year’s Porter Cup, while a scheduling conflict prevented his sister from participating in the women’s tournament previously held in June.

“I’d never been to Buffalo before. It’s beautiful. I love it,” said Julia McLaughlin, 22, a member of Wake Forest’s national championship team. “My brother convinced me to come. He couldn’t say one bad thing about this tournament.”

“Not just because of the golf,” said Cade McLaughlin, 21, a junior at Josh Allen’s alma mater Wyoming, who had his father Courtney on his bag this week. “All of the players, the Maid of the Mist ride, the bash on Friday night. There’s a lot of unique opportunities to have a great week out here in Lewiston. And now that fact that we can come up here at the same time, stay in the same house and play at the same time is another unique opportunity.”

The Porter Cup’s move to host the men’s and women’s tournaments in the same week is what attracted the Tarkany siblings, both first-time participants.

“It’s really exciting,” said Chloe Tarkany, 19, a sophomore at Belmont. “We used to play a lot of junior events together, but last summer we had to go our separate ways. This year, we tried to find events we could both play in and our whole family could travel together.”

“Everyone told me Porter Cup was a great event, so it’s good that it worked out for both of us to be here,” said Jacob Tarkany, 21, a junior at Ohio State. “I probably would’ve highly considered playing if it was still just men, but as soon as we saw that it was girls as well, we for sure put it on the schedule.”

Merging the tournaments has swelled spectator galleries, amplified publicity, and enhanced the big-event feeling for female golfers.

“It helps grown the women’s side of the game for sure,” Chloe Tarkany said.

“It gives off a different vibe,” Ella Weber said. “It’s fun to be out there on the same track at the same time. same conditions, same greens, same crowds.”

“It’s really important to show support for women’s golf because it’s getting more and more popular,” Julia McLaughlin said. “And it’s been a lot of fun hanging out with my brother up here and playing our practice rounds together.”

While they are competing on different leaderboards, the players have been keeping an eye on their siblings’ scores.

“There’s a little sibling rivalry, but in the end I want him to do his best and I’ll be rooting for him,” Chloe Tarkany said.

“We are very competitive,” Ella Weber concluded. “We love to beat each other. Obviously, we want the other person to do well. I just want to do better.”

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