Defending Mid-Amateur champion Pat Carter (second from left) watches Mike Foust putt the ball during Saturday's quarterfinal round at Berry Hills. Also looking on are Carter's caddy, Berry Hills pro Barry Evans (holding flag) and Phillip Butcher, whom Carter defeated 6 and 4 to reach today's semifinals.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Pat Carter is getting a little help from a friend at the West Virginia Mid-Amateur Championship at Berry Hills Country Club.As if Carter, the 13-time West Virginia Amateur champion, recent West Virginia Golf Association Hall of Fame inductee and defending Mid-Am titlist, needs any pointers, Berry Hills golf professional Barry Evans is playing the role of caddy this weekend.The best friends worked magic again Saturday as Carter, who is seeded second, advanced to the semifinals with a fairly routine 6 and 4 victory over No. 7 Phillip Butcher of Chesapeake, Ohio, in the quarterfinals of match play."It's nice to have Barry with me,'' said Carter, who resides in Huntington. "Obviously, we don't misread too many putts. A couple I was going to putt a little bit differently, he kind of corrected me in mid-stride. The game's in decent shape. It's much better than I anticipated coming into the tournament.''In other quarterfinal matches, No. 9 Ian Patrick of Huntington upset No. 1 Phillip Reale of Charleston 6 and 5, No. 12 Sam O'Dell of Hurricane defeated No. 13 Brian McPherson of Belpre, Ohio, 2 and 1, and No. 11 Michael Foust of Hurricane beat No. 30 Jeff Harper of Parkersburg 1 up. Reale won the stroke-play portion of the event Friday, shooting an even-par 70.Carter will face Harper at 8:10 a.m. today in the semifinals while O'Dell and Patrick will face off at 8 a.m. in the other bracket. The winners advance to the championship round at noon.Earlier Saturday, Carter defeated Hurricane's Harold Payne 4 and 3 in the round of 16. Carter tied for the second-lowest score at 1-over par 71 Friday, then downed No. 31 Ryan Matney of Huntington 5 and 4 in the round of 32 match play."It's great for confidence sake,'' said Carter said of having Evans by his side. "We've been best friends since one tournament we were put together. Just chit-chatting keeps me calm. Bottom line, I'm confident on every putt I'm hitting. That's a huge help to my game. I did get on the bag for him for three holes. It didn't work out at the State Open at Snowshoe; he lost in a playoff.''
"I'm a horrible caddy,'' laughed Evans, who has played in a pair of PGA Championships, won the Club Professional National Championship and the West Virginia Open. "I leave clubs all over the place and forget to rake bunkers. It's too nerve-wracking. This is hard watching someone else miss a putt ... that's one of my best friends. We're having a really fun time. He's so much fun to watch. I would kill to putt like him.''Carter and Evans met on a blind date, of sorts."When I first came here 22 years ago, they had this tournament at Parkersburg,'' explained Evans. "It was a pro-am. The first year I played with Mike Good. The second year he couldn't play and he said, 'You want me to hook you up with someone?'I said, 'Yeah, great.' He goes, 'I'll get Pat Carter.' I didn't even know who Pat Carter was. He won one State Amateur. I had never even met him. He shows up five minutes before teeing off. I'm like, 'This is great.' There were 40 teams that year, we shot 15 under scrambling and won by five shots. We won about eight [of those tournaments] and played in about 15. Pat and I have been good friends for the last 20 years.''The Mid-Amateur is the first of several tournaments that Carter is using to hone his game for this year's Greenbrier Classic. Carter earned a sponsor's exemption into the PGA Tour event at The Greenbrier resort after winning last year's West Virginia Amateur."I've hit a few bad shots ... it's expected this time of year for me,'' said Carter, who will play in five in- and out-of-state tournaments before the Classic. "I really haven't touched a club since about November."I'm so busy with baseball with my son and my daughter's in softball, so it seems like I'm going back and forth with that all the time. That's OK. There'll be enough golf to get me prepared for the Classic. Barry's played in it and told me so many good things about it. I'm looking forward to it. It'll be fun. Hopefully I'll be respectable and get around and not embarrass myself.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.