The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 3, 2012

LUCKY 13 FOR CARTER

Huntington native wins tournament

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Pat Carter has been the center of attention at the West Virginia Amateur awards presentation before — 12 times, to be exact — but Thursday was a little different.

With his wife, Kelli, and daughter, Heidi (7), following along from start to finish and with son Hogan (12) carrying his bag, the Huntington native and Marshall University volunteer assistant coach won his 13th West Virginia Amateur, his first since 2006 and perhaps the most unlikely of all of them.

“I’m really kind of confused about how to feel,” said Carter, explaining that he came in with no expectations after playing very little golf this summer. “I really didn’t think I’d ever see this again.”

On a day when The Greenbrier’s Old White TPC course showed its teeth, the 44-year-old Carter played the role of dentist, carefully plodding along while many of his closest competitors faded away.

Tied for the lead with Jeremy Rogers and Jay Woodward entering the final round, Carter finished with a 3-over 73 on the final round to end up at 4-over for the four-day tournament. That was two strokes better than Oak Hill’s Winston Canada, who finished with a 73 Thursday to card a 6-over 290 for the tournament and take second.

Marshall’s Jeremy Rogers took third at 7-over, while Hurricane natives Sam O’Dell and Brian Anania tied for fourth at 8-over.

In a tournament that included some spectacular rounds — like Anania’s 66 on The Greenbrier Course Wednesday and Canada’s 67 on The Old White TPC on Tuesday — Carter just stayed around par, carding rounds of 71 on both trips through The Greenbrier course and 73 both times around The Old White TPC. He ended the week with 43 pars, 13 birdies and 15 bogeys. More importantly, perhaps, he had only one score higher than bogey all week.

“This course is very difficult,” said Carter. “I knew that par was going to be a good score, and that was my approach.”

A number of competitors made a run at their first West Virginia Amateur title, only to watch The Old White TPC bite back.

Woodward, a Bridgeport native who plays college golf at Penn State, saw his opportunity fade away early. Tied for the lead when the day began, his drive on No. 7 went a little long and found a fairway bunker. His shot out of the hazard landed in a greenside bunker, where it took him two blasts to get out, his fourth shot rolling off the back edge of the green.

Woodward chipped on with his fifth and then made his putt for a double-bogey six.

He was never able to recover, playing the next four holes at 6-over-par. He ended with a 9-over 79 and tied for sixth at 10-over for the tournament.

The 24-year-old Canada had a number of chances to take control, but the one he’ll remember most came on the par-5 12th.

Already two strokes ahead of the field standing on the tee of the 568-yard hole, the big hitter knew he had a chance to open that lead further.

After a solid drive, his second shot sailed to the right of the green, but he was still pin-high in the rough between two pine trees looking at a chip for eagle.

As he prepared to hit the shot, though, the club slipped from his fingertips and landed on the ball, resulting in a one-stroke penalty.

His chip was for birdie instead of eagle, and, perhaps still thinking about his mistake, he chunked the shot, leaving it short of the green.

His fifth shot went well past the pin, and he missed his sixth to the right of the cup. Canada ended up tapping in for a double-bogey seven that put him back in a tie with Carter.

“That made me really mad,” Canada admitted. “It was a little tough to shake off.”

Rogers, who got to as low as 1-over for the tournament Thursday and was 2-over after nine, struggled to pull away when a double-bogey on No. 10 put him at 4-over, but he was still in the hunt at 5-over until No. 14.

After a solid tee shot on the 401-yard par 4, Rogers hit his second to the right of the green and then chipped on to leave himself about eight feet for par.

His putt missed to the right and rolled well past the hole, and his bogey putt coming back lipped out. He had to tap in for a double-bogey, and at 7-over he was out of contention for the top spot.

“I was hitting the ball decent and was in good positions,” said Rogers. “I just fell off the face of the earth on the back nine. But that’s golf. You have to live and learn, I guess.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, knowing I had a chance.”

Even after the struggles at No. 12, Canada was still in the hunt at 5-over though 16 with a 572-yard par-5 in front of him.

Instead of gaining some ground with a birdie, or even an eagle, Canada struggled through the hole, finding a fairway bunker and ending up with a bogey. That moved him to 6-over-par and opened the door wide open for Carter, who gladly stepped right through.

“I felt like I played OK, I just made a couple of bad decisions,” said Canada, who said he’ll likely make the jump to some professional mini-tour events next fall. “I definitely left some shots out there, but that’s golf. It was a good learning experience.”

Carter basically put his name on the trophy with a long putt for birdie on No. 16 that moved him to 3-over for the tournament. He parred No. 17 and then saved a bogey on No. 18 to finish off another championship.

 “I was getting a little teary, to be honest,” said Carter of his emotions after the birdie on 16. “I was taking deep breaths to get through. There’s nothing like winning this tournament.

 “It’s something I’ll always remember,” he said of sharing the afternoon with his family. “(Hogan) did a great job and kept me calm.”

 This year’s victory came with a prize that none of Carter’s other West Virginia Amateur wins — 1989, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and, 2006 — included.

 At the trophy presentation, The Greenbrier chairman and CEO, Jim Justice, was there to award Carter with a special exemption to play in the 2013 Greenbrier Classic, a PGA TOUR FedEx Cup event.

 “I’m kind of sick of you winning this thing,” Justice joked as he made the presentation. “But we’re really proud of you and glad you’ll be playing in The Greenbrier Classic.”

 “I guess I’ll have to clear my calendar now,” said Carter of that honor. “It will be fun to play a PGA event. That’s a real treat.”

 Hurricane native and five-time West Virginia Amateur champion Harold Payne finished with a 20-over 304 for the week to take the honors as the low senior in the event, sponsored by the West Virginia Golf Association and held at The Greenbrier since 1916.

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