The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 8, 2013

O’Dell advances to 9-stroke lead

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Huntington’s Ian Patrick and 2012 BNI Memorial Golf Classic winner Bosten Miller posted the two lowest rounds of the day, each carding a 5-under 67 on The Greenbrier Course Wednesday at the 94th West Virginia Amateur.

White Sulphur’s Nick Dent made a charge that included five straight birdies, finishing with a 3-under 69 to move to 1-under par for the tournament. Vienna’s Alan Cooke recovered from a 5-over start through the first seven holes, carding two eagles and a birdie over the last 11 to post a 2-over 74 and stay under par at minus-2 for the tournament.

But none of that really mattered as Hurricane dentist Sam O’Dell pulled the teeth out of the 6,674-yard, par-72 Greenbrier Course for the second straight day. His 3-under 69 — his third straight under-par round of the tournament — moved him to 11-under after 54 holes. He holds a nine-stroke lead over Cooke and 10 over Dent entering today’s final round on the Old White TPC Course.

That lead group will tee off at 10:06 a.m. today, but the only real drama will likely be for second place.

“I’m going to try to shoot 72 or better, because you never know,” said O’Dell, who’s finished in the top 10 seven times but never won a West Virginia Amateur. “There’s still good players behind me. I still have to play a good round, but I love my position, obviously.”

O’Dell’s Wednesday round was anything but easy. He started strong with two birdies and an eagle on the front nine, but when he bogeyed No. 10 and then doubled No. 11, it looked as though he may come back to the field.

That was before he switched balls and carded his second eagle of the day on the par-5 12th. He followed that with birdies on 14 and 16 — sandwiched around a bogey on 15 — and finished the round with back-to-back pars and plenty of confidence.

“It was definitely up and down,” said O’Dell, who has four eagles and 15 birdies on the week. He’s also avoided big trouble with just two double-bogeys and nothing higher. “I actually probably hit the ball better than I did the first two days, but I just missed a couple of approach shots. I putted good, but I hit a couple bunker shots that just weren’t me.

“I came in trying to shoot 70 or better, so with a 69, I couldn’t be more happy. I was positive going to the 12th tee, and that was huge. That kind of got me going.”

Dent, who was second most of the day, before Cook finished with a birdie on No. 18, did his best to make a charge. He shook off the frustration of three bogeys over the first six holes and suddenly got hot at the par-5 eighth.

The former Bluefield State College standout birdied 8 and then did the same on the par-3 ninth, the par-4 10th, the par-3 11th and the par-5 12th. He finished his round with six straight pars.

“I was just hitting it solid tee to green and made some putts,” said Dent, who sits alone in third with 18 holes to play. “I’m very happy. I probably got the most I could out of my round.

“I’m just playing the golf course,” he continued of his mindset with a 10-stroke deficit. “Sam is a great player, and it’s obvious he’s burning it up. So I’m just going to play the course.”

Brian Anania will begin today’s round alone in fourth at 1-over-par. He’ll start the day in a group with Harold Howell and Thadd Obecny, tied for fifth at 3-over for the tournament.

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One of the big movers on “Moving Day” was Lewisburg’s T.J. Knight. After barely making the cut after the first two days, he fired one of just eight under-par rounds on Wednesday. A 71 on The Greenbrier Course vaulted him from a tie for 40th up to a tie for 17th at 12-over for the tournament.

The only other area golfer still in the field, Alderson’s Josh Boswell, is also at 12-over for the tournament after a 76 Wednesday.

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Players will shift back to the Old White TPC Course today as they try to finish up where the pros play each summer in The Greenbrier Classic. The par-70, 7,042-yard course held players to an average of more than 8-over-par during the opening round on Monday. It produced only one eagle and more than twice as many bogeys (266) as birdies (117).

O’Dell’s 68 was the only under-par score on the course during the opening round.

The opening group in the field — cut from 100 to 43 after Tuesday’s round — will tee off today at 8 a.m.

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

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