The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 1, 2012

Woodward marching to his own beat

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — While the Old White TPC course looked very similar to the way it appeared for the Greenbrier Classic — minus a few bleachers, some luxury boxes and a few thousand fans — there was one noticeable difference to the landscape — golf carts.

While Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and champion Ted Potter Jr. strolled the fairways on their own, with their caddies trailing behind lugging the heavy bags adorned with sponsors’ logos, the competitors in the 93rd West Virginia Amateur hopped in green Greenbrier carts, with their bags strapped to the back and their caddies riding shotgun.

The mobile caravan had one noticeable exception.

Bridgeport native and Penn State University golfer Jay Woodward, who entered Tuesday’s second round alone in second place after a 2-under 70 on The Greenbrier course Monday, chose to do things the way he’s always done — walking the course and carrying his own bag.

“I just do it all the time in college, so it’s something I’m used to,” said Woodward, discarding the notion that there’s any disadvantage to logging the distance with the spikes of his Nikes instead of the tires of an E-Z-GO. “Even in U.S. Amateur qualifying and things like that, I have to do it, so it’s just less to deal with.”

Woodward admitted he had to hop in the cart a few times, as to not slow down the speed of play, but for the most part he was doing it the old-fashioned way, and getting a little extra exercise in the process.

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Decked out in a Penn State hat and golf shirt, toting a bag with a PSU logo and a Nittany Lion driver cover, Woodward knew what was coming. It’s something he has had to deal with every day for the last few months — questions about the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case that has dominated the sports headlines, cost Joe Paterno his untarnished legacy and landed PSU on major probation.

“I’ve played in a lot of tournaments this summer, and I get asked about it at every one of them,” said Woodward, adding he usually prefers to keep his opinions on the matter to himself. “It’s a bad situation, but all of us there now had nothing to do with it. It’s tough, but we’ll get through it as a family. That’s the type of people we are.”

Fall semester classes begin in State College, Pa., Aug. 27, and part of the excitement that surrounds the start of a new school year always has to do with the beginning of football season.

Woodward doesn’t expect that to change this year, even without Paterno on the sidelines — or even immortalized with a statue outside Beaver Stadium — and possibly without some of the star players on the field.

“The only difference is that we can’t go to a bowl game now,” said Woodward. “But as some of the players said, every game’s a bowl game.

“I know some teachers and professors that never went to games, and they want to go to every game now. They want to see how these new guys do and show their support.”

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The first red score of the second round came from Mullens’ Derek Brooks. After an 80 on Monday, the son of former West Virginia University basketball star Herbie Brooks birdied two of the last four holes Tuesday to card a 1-under-par 69.

The score helped Brooks dart up the leaderboard. He’ll enter today’s third round in 14th place at 7-over for the tournament.

The 11-stroke difference — the lower number coming on what is considered to be the more difficult of the two courses — was the buzz in the clubhouse, but Brooks had a simple explanation.

“I just had a few bad holes (Monday),” he explained. “I had a quad and two doubles, and that makes for a bad round.

“(Tuesday) it was all fairways and greens. I think I missed one green all day.”

Brooks did admit, however, that a 69, on a day when 79s and 89s were the norm, was rewarding.

“It feels pretty good, knowing that this is a course that the pros played,” said Brooks. “I was able to shoot right around what they were shooting.

“It’s a tough course. All of the pins were tucked.”

Although he still has some ground to make up, Brooks believes he’s put himself back into contention if he can perform well on the final 36 holes.

“I’ll need similar scores (Wednesday and Thursday),” he said. “But I know it’s there now. I just have to go out and do it.”

 

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