W.Va. Amateur begins Monday at Greenbrier
HUNTINGTON -- Based on 2013 performance to date, Sam O'Dell of Hurricane appears to have his game where he wants it as he tries to win his first West Virginia Amateur Golf Championship this week at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
O'Dell won the West Virginia Mid-Amateur in mid-May. He started match play as No. 12 seed and made it through to the finals where he beat Pat Carter of Huntington, 3 and 2, for his second Mid-Am crown.
In mid-June, the former Marshall University golfer slugged it out with eventual winner David Bradshaw in the West Virginia Open held at Parkersburg Country Club. O'Dell, 35, fired a 5-under 67 in the final round for a 7-under 209 total to wind up second and low amateur. Bradshaw matched O'Dell's final-day score for a 205 to secure his seventh State Open crown.
"I'm as confident now as I was then," O'Dell said Wednesday afternoon before heading out for a practice session at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club, his home course. "My swing felt good, better than I thought. Once I got started, things really took off."
O'Dell is a dentist with his office close to Sleepy Hollow. The work schedule does cut down on practice time, but O'Dell manages to get in sessions late in the afternoons. He lets patients know well ahead of time when he'll be competing in a tournament. That's the case this week.
The 94th West Virginia Amateur starts Monday on Old White TPC, home of the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic. Round two will be on the Greenbrier course. The field then will be reduced to low 40 and ties. Round three will be on the Greenbrier and play concludes on Old White TPC.
O'Dell is familiar with both courses. He'll have a game plan ready and test it out during practice rounds.
"I'd like a faster start," O'Dell said, thinking back to how things went early in the State Open.
The State Am won't have a repeat champion. Pat Carter of Huntington, who won in 2012, has withdrawn. The winner of 13 State Am titles is in Warner Robins, Ga., to watch son Hogan and his Barboursville teammates play in the Little League 11-12 Southeast Regional. Barboursville, the West Virginia champ, is 1-1 after losing to Virginia on Saturday. Its final pool play game is Monday.
A familiar name competing is three-time winner Tim Fisher of Sandyville, W.Va., who returns to West Virginia Golf Association action for the first time in three years after serving two suspensions. The USGA suspended him in 2010 because he withdrew from the U.S. Public Links Championship without giving proper notification. The WVGA sent him to the sidelines in July of 2011 for a breach of its code of conduct.
"There are plenty of good players," O'Dell said. "You have to play great and have things go your way. I like my chances."
In 2011, O'Dell and Jess Ferrell tied for second behind Christian Brand, who turned pro after finishing his Marshall career. The State Am winner received an exemption to the Greenbrier Classic and Brand took the 2011 spot. The runner-up would get the exemption for 2012 since the pros changed dates to the first week of July. Play concluded on the Greenbrier course and O'Dell made eagle on the par-5 18th to tie Ferrell and force a playoff. Ferrell won with a par on the first playoff hole as O'Dell three-putted.
"It was a double whammy," O'Dell said, referring to Brand winning by nine and his coming up short in the playoff. "I kind of lost my focus. You can't let that happen at any time."
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