Carter to play with injury
HUNTINGTON -- It's on to The Greenbrier Classic for golfer Pat Carter.
The insurance executive from Huntington visited the Cincinnati Eye Institute last week to talk with a specialist about the orbital fracture he suffered in his left eye from an assault in April. That injury caused muscular damage and has created blurred and degenerative vision.
Carter said he and the specialist talked about surgery, but Carter said August was the earliest possible date. And, Carter said he was advised there would be risks involved. The injury prompted Carter to withdraw from last week's 80th West Virginia Open at Parkersburg Country Club.
Despite the injury, Carter has enjoyed a productive season to date. He hopes that trend continues when he tees it up next week against the likes of Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, defending champion Ted Potter Jr. and other top pros when the PGA Tour makes its fourth visit to The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Total purse for The Greenbrier Classic is $6,300,000 and the winner takes home $1,098,000.
"There's no reason to whine about it," Carter said. "I have to learn to live with it."
Carter said glare is the main cause for his eye issues. He said there are times when the ball looks hazy. When he blinks, there's no guarantee the left eye will return to normal right away.
"Sometimes it's fine. Sometimes you have to bear with me," Carter said.
Carter's victory in the West Virginia Amateur in 2012 earned him an exemption into The Greenbrier Classic.
Normally, players who are granted an exemption are not familiar with the tournament setting. That's not the case for Carter, who knows the par-70 Old White TPC course and all the surroundings well. He's won 12 of his 13 State Amateur titles at The Greenbrier Resort where play rotates with alternate rounds on Old White TPC and the Greenbrier course.
"I'll try to get some practice in," Carter said. "I hope I can keep this feel going."
Carter said once he learned there would be no surgery, he could have reclaimed his spot in the State Open, but opted to let the alternate stay in.
His season began in April in the Virginias-West Virginias Team Matches on the Snead Course at The Greenbrier Sporting Club. He won his Sunday singles match. He finished runner-up to Sam O'Dell in the West Virginia Mid-Amateur. He and partner Steve Fox placed second in the West Virginia Four-Ball Championship. He and partner Jim Grimmett had strong showings in the Olympia Fields National Four-Ball in Chicago and Cascades Invitational (four ball) on the Cascades Course at The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va.
Carter's last start was the Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, Pa.
After a restoration, Old White TPC measures 7,287 yards for the Classic. In the State Am, players don't hit from all the back tees used for the Classic. Carter. 45, has seen the course from the tips, and now he must play it that way.
Carter's had some issues with his driver and he knows things have to be corrected.
"I haven't driven the ball as well as I can," he said. "I need to get things in line for this tournament."
There are three long par fours that Carter knows he must master. They are No. 2 (488 yards), No. 13 (492) and No. 16 (444 with a carry over water). "I'll be happy with pars," he said.
A strong short game and putting have been Carter's scoring trademarks over the years and he says that must continue next week.
"I've putted well so far this season," he said. "Go figure. I've got to be on in those areas."
Carter and his family will arrive Sunday at The Greenbrier. He'll get checked in Monday and practice. On Tuesday morning, he'll hook up with Charles Howell III for a practice round. He'll practice again Wednesday (at the Snead Course since Old White TPC has the pro-ams).
Another plus for Carter is the fan support he'll get because he's well known around the Mountain State.
"They'll be pulling for me," he said. "That gives me added incentive."
In about a month, Carter will return to The Greenbrier for the State Am.
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