The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Other Sports

August 9, 2013

Truly 'A special week'

O'Dell breezes to W.Va. Amateur championship

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — There wasn’t much drama during the final round of the 94th West Virginia Amateur Thursday, and the usual spot in The Greenbrier Classic wasn’t on the line for the winner. Pat Carter, a 13-time winner of the event, didn’t play, and three-time champion Tim Fisher was disqualified after playing a wrong ball during the opening round.

Sam O’Dell couldn’t have cared any less.

A seven-time top 10 finisher in the event, the Hurricane dentist finally extracted his first win. He realized a dream by holding the trophy after a six-shot victory over Woody Woodward and Brian Anania, despite his worst round of the tournament, a 6-over-par 76.

“It’s been a special week,” said O’Dell, fighting back tears while accepting The Greenbrier Trophy, presented each year to the winner. “I just thank God for everything. It really is special, and it will make this place even more awesome coming back. My family and a lot of my friends came, and that was just awesome.

“A lot of things had to go right for me to come out on top, and they did.”

O’Dell, who played the first three rounds under par — beginning with a 68 on the Old White TPC Monday, followed by a 66 and a 69 on the par-72 Greenbrier Course Tuesday and Wednesday — opened up a big enough cushion that he really didn’t have to worry during his final round over The Old White TPC.

He played the first eight holes in 5-over-par then carded nine straight pars before a bogey on No. 18 to finish off the victory.

“I knew something would have to happen for me to lose it after (Wednesday),” he said. “It’s not as bad as I could have done. Three or four of the holes that were birdie holes I hit it in there and just didn’t make the putts.”

But the final walk around the historic course — which hosts the PGA TOUR’s The Greenbrier Classic each summer — was little more than a formality.

O’Dell, who played collegiately at Marshall, was the only player to finish under par for the tournament. His 5-under 279 didn’t allow Bridgeport’s Woodward, who shot the only under-par round of the final day, to really make a charge. His 3-under 67 put him at 1-over 285 for the tournament.

“I came here to win, not finish second,” said Woodward, who will play college golf at Wake Forest. “It’s always good to move up the leaderboard, but it was a couple days late. If I could have played a little better on the back nine, I could have put a little more pressure on him, but you can never complain about a 67.”

Anania, who will be a senior at Marshall this fall, was a little happier with his finish. He played the final round even to also finish at 1-over for the tournament in a tie for second with Woodward.

“I hit the ball well, but I was a little long on a couple holes,” he said. “I don’t know if I was just amped up or what.

“I hit the ball pretty solid this week, and I putted a lot better than I have in the past here.”

The hometown boy, Greenbrier East High School and Bluefield State College graduate Nick Dent, couldn’t put together much of a charge, either. He had two birdies on the front nine, but he played the back in 3-over, finishing alone in fourth at 3-over for the tournament.

“I played well on the front nine, but when the rain started I hit some bad shots and made a few bogeys,” said the White Sulphur native, who played in the final group and battled wet weather for the final nine holes. “It shouldn’t have been a factor, but I kind of tightened up and didn’t hit the ball as well.

“It was a good finish, and hopefully I will do a little better next year.”

Wheeling’s Thadd Obecby rounded out the top 5 with a 5-over 287.

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Five-time West Virginia Amateur champion Harold Payne picked up the low senior award, beating two-time champion Steve Fox by a single stroke. Obecny won the low junior award.

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Huntington’s Sleepy Hollow Golf Club led the tournament with 13 members playing in this year’s West Virginia Amateur. The Lewisburg Elks Country Club came in second with eight participants.

“That’s pretty neat for one of our smaller clubs in the state,” said West Virginia Golf Association executive director Ken Tackett.

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The 2014 West Virginia Amateur will be played June 2-5 back at The Greenbrier.

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH

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