Crowd cheers for Carter
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Carter's Clan grew as amateur Pat Carter's day progressed Thursday in the first round of The Greenbrier Classic. When he played the final five holes 1-under-par thanks to a birdie on the par-5 17th, those supporters were proclaiming: "Go Pat. Keep fighting Pat. You can do it Pat."
Carter's closing surge helped make up for a couple of double-bogeys earlier in the round and he signed for a 5-over 75 after two-putting for par on the par-3 18th where the fans seated in the stands and suites surrounding the picturesque hole on the par-70 Old White TPC course at The Greenbrier Resort gave the Huntington resident a big round of applause.
"I had a ton of support out there," Carter, winner of 13 West Virginia Amateur titles, said of the family and friends who made the ride from Huntington either Wednesday night or early Thursday to root for him. "They got to see a few good shots. They got to see a few bad shots, too. I putted well. No three putts. I grinded it out. I'm not utterly disappointed with 75."
Carter's 2012 State Am win got him an exemption into the $6.3 million PGA Tour event.
In round one, he hit 8 of 14 fairways, 9 of 18 greens and needed just 29 putts on a day where players got to play lift, clean and place in the fairways. Heavy rain Wednesday left the fairways soaked and the greens receptive.
The fifth hole, a par 4, is one Carter would like to play again. His second shot with an 8-iron found the creek short of the green and he ended up with a six.
"That was a momentum killer," the insurance executive said. "No excuse. I had my hands on the ball. I played the easy holes 3-over. Normally it would be 1-under. That's the difference between 71 and 75. At No. 13, I tried a shot that didn't work. It's a lot different than the State Am. It could be in the second round or fourth round. A lot of it's situational.
"I didn't throw away too many shots, but the key still is you have to make some good shots."
Tee time Friday for Carter is 2:10 p.m. on No. 10. His hope of making the 36-hole cut were dampened by all the low scores Thursday.
"I knew if it was soft conditions, it would be tough," he said. "These guys can score. I hoped for fast and firm. That would've helped me.
"The distance didn't bother me. I sprayed a few tee shots, but it wasn't like I couldn't make par on any hole. Every time, especially the long holes, you put yourself in a perfect lie."
Playing with the pro game's top stars is big for Carter, but he didn't let that interfere with family. He went home Wednesday night to watch his son, Hogan, play for the Barboursville All-Stars in the age 11-12 District 1 Tournament. Hogan pitched and Barboursville won,16-3.
"It was great knowing he'd be pitching the game to get us to the district championship," Carter said. "He's having such a good year. I would've gone home every time. I was hoping I would've had a later tee time and got some more sleep, but that's OK. Mark it down. We're heading to the state championship."
Hogan said he enjoyed watching his father play. He was on the bag for Carter's victory in the 2012 State Am.
"It's pretty cool. I like to watch the pros, too," Hogan Carter said. "I like it when he comes watch me play. I'm proud of him."
Carter's playing partners for rounds one and two are Scott Gardner (72) and Paul Haley II (74). He said they made him feel at home right from the start. Haley had one of the shots of the day when made eagle on the par-4 16th. His second shot with an 8-iron from 156 yards flew straight into the hole.
"They were great to play with," Carter said. "I told them I needed a few balls signed for the kids. That shot on 16 made up for a few of his bad shots."
Steve Ellis of Huntington served as the scorer for Carter's group. The head of scoring asked Ellis if he wanted to be with that group and he said yes.
"He gave a good account of himself," Ellis said. "A couple of swings hurt him, but that's the way it is with any player."
"Seeing this makes everything worth it," said Orman Hall, Carter's father-in-law. "I know it was a tough day, but he'll work to come back tomorrow."
Following the round, Carter and the family enjoyed lunch. After that, the options varied.
"I'm sure they'll want to look around the grounds," he said. "They talked about watching Phil (Mickelson) play. It's like OK dad, you're done, out of sight, out of mind. Whatever they want to do is fine. I'll try to get in a little practice."
Come Friday, it's time to grind again for the newest member of the West Virginia Golf Hall of Fame.
"That's the way my career's been" Carter said. "I try to post the best score I can that day. Unfortunately 75 was that number today."