The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 9, 2013

Carter gave O’Dell advice he needed

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — With a nine-stroke lead entering Thursday’s final round at the 94th  West Virginia Amateur, Sam O’Dell knew he basically had the tournament locked up.

But when he woke up Thursday morning, he was still looking for some advice.

He picked up the phone and dialed an old friend, and the man that understood his situation best, 13-time West Virginia Amateur champion Pat Carter.

“It was a short call,” said O’Dell, who is a member at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club, along with Carter. “All he said was to build off the first three rounds. He said I’d be more nervous than I was the first three days, but that’s normal.

“He said, ‘You’re fine,’ and that’s all I needed. I hung up the phone, and I didn’t need to talk anymore.”

O’Dell took to the course and locked up his first-ever West Virginia Amateur championship with a six-stroke victory.

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Any other year, O’Dell would be planning to play with the game’s best in The Greenbrier Classic thanks to his win in the West Virginia Amateur, but a unique situation took that opportunity off the table this year.

Because next year’s West Virginia Amateur will be played the first week of June, there will be two West Virginia Amateur champions crowned prior to next year’s Greenbrier Classic, which will take place the first week in July.

Just one exemption is available, and the West Virginia Golf Association decided that it will go to the 2014 champion.

O’Dell would have surely liked to have had the opportunity to play in a PGA TOUR event, but he wasn’t complaining about his misfortune, instead saying he’d just have to win again in 2014.

“It will be easier to win next year than it was this year,” said O’Dell, who has never been to The Greenbrier Classic, even as a spectator. “I should be the last person to be able to complain about it. If I had shot 68 (in the final round), I’d say, ‘Hey, I deserve to be there.’ But I had it handed to me on a platter a couple years ago and didn’t do it. So I can’t complain. I’m fine with it.”

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O’Dell’s caddie, John Duty Jr., seemed just as happy about the victory as O’Dell, and he showed just as much emotion throughout the round.

“He told me this morning, ‘I’m going to struggle here,’ O’Dell remembered. “I said, ‘That’s why you’re here, actually, is to keep me from getting upset.’ He slowed me down a couple times, and I played better coming in.”

When O’Dell tapped in for bogey and the championship on No. 18, he and Duty shared a long hug on the green before O’Dell pumped his fist in celebration.

“Somebody told us to get a room,” O’Dell joked. “It meant everything. I’m not going to lie.”

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Few were any happier for O’Dell than Brian Anania. Both have Marshall green in their blood and both play regularly at Sleepy Hollow. But there was another connection that made Anania an O’Dell fan on Thursday.

“He’s my dentist,” he said. “So I had to root for him. If I couldn’t win, there’s nobody I wanted to see do it more than Sam.”

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With a fantastic college career over, and no plans to try to make it as a professional, Nick Dent’s competitive rounds may not be nearly as frequent in the future. But the Greenbrier County native, who spent much of his life in Hinton, isn’t leaving the game behind.

The fourth-place finisher in this week’s West Virginia Amateur will take over this fall as the new head golf coach at his alma mater, Bluefield State College.

“I’m looking forward to that,” said Dent. “I should still get to play a little, but after that I probably won’t get to play nearly as much.”

Dent said his biggest role will be to teach the players about strategy and course management, and just one season removed from the program, he’s confident he has a lot of knowledge to pass down.

“I know how the school is, and I think I’ll relate to them really well,” he said.

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Huntington’s Steve Fox is a two-time winner and was a top 25 finisher in this year’s event, but he’s also the president of the West Virginia Golf Association.

It was in that role that he spoke Thursday about the unique opportunity of playing the West Virginia Amateur at The Greenbrier every year.

“We’re blessed, as players, to be able to play two amazing golf courses where they’ve held Ryder Cups, Solheim Cups and a PGA event every year,” he said. “I don’t know of any other state in the country that can contest its event on two wonderful golf courses like these.”

The Greenbrier Course, which played host to the second and third rounds, was the site of the 1979 Ryder Cup and the 1994 Solehim Cup. The Old White TPC Course hosts The Greenbrier Classic each July.

— E-mail: chuffman@

register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH

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