Six-time champion David Bradshaw shot his second straight 69 Thursday.
VIENNA, W.Va. - David Bradshaw had a short chip shot to set up a birdie on Parkersburg Country Club's most inviting par-4 Thursday, and he chunked it.He got a good roll on that seventh green (his 16th hole of the day), but he faced a 12-foot putt that was longer than those of his competitors, Christian Brand and Woody Woodward.But Bradshaw, the six-time West Virginia Open champion, bowed up and buried that putt. Brand and Woodward missed their short ones.In a nutshell, that's partly why the Jefferson County native is ahead by multiple shots in yet another Open.
Bradshaw's unexpected birdie helped him to his second 3-under-par 69 in a row, giving him a 6-under 138 and a three-shot lead over Woodward of Bridgeport. He has half the tournament's four sub-70 rounds.The frightening thing, as the tournament concludes today, is that Bradshaw feels his game has been sloppy, with shaky ball-striking and sub-par putting. But his scrambling savvy has bailed him out, as it did on the 335-yard No. 7."That was a good one, especially going in," Bradshaw said. "I kind of hit a bad tee shot, hit a bad second shot, then made a really good putt. It's certainly nice to go to bed with that in your back pocket."Woodward, headed to Wake Forest to continue his career, turned in the week's best round of 67. He rang up five birdies in a seven-hole stretch and suffered just one bogey, but would have loved that birdie on the seventh.But every golfer leaves a few on the course."I actually struck the ball better yesterday than I did today," Woodward said, referring to a first-round 74. "Putted OK yesterday, didn't really make anything, but today I grinded and every opportunity I got out there, I took full advantage."Hit a bad drive on 4, got lucky and had a swing at it, made a birdie. It kind of carries you through your round when you do something like that. It was fun out there today."Sam O'Dell almost had a lot of fun Thursday, starting his round off with three back-nine birdies (he began from No. 10). The Hurricane dentist was 4 under for the tournament, but bogeyed Nos. 4 and 5, and then had the craziest even-par finish you'll see on three holes.He birdied on that drivable seventh hole, then pushed his tee shot way right on No. 8, a 431-yard hole ranked the hardest on the course. The shot ended somewhere high on a hillside below a roadway, and a search party combed terrain both bare and overgrown.Someone found a ball that was the same brand and number O'Dell was playing, but O'Dell said that ball lacked his personal pen markings. Eventually, a 5-minute count expired and the ball was declared lost.O'Dell nearly hit a 40-foot putt for bogey, settling for a double. He got a shot back on the par-3 ninth, nearly acing the shot to a difficult hole placement. For all that, he finished with a 71 and is 2 under for the tournament.
"I lost it right in the Shootout, too," O'Dell said, referring to the special event Sunday. "And it hit the tree and it came down the side of the hill and I found it. I probably tried to hit it a little too hard instead of just trying to make it down the fairway."Veteran pro John Ross of Bramwell sits at 1-under, tied with Bob Friend of Pittsburgh and Scott Bibbee of Vienna. Christian Brand is all alone in seventh at even par, dismayed at his 71. He started the day with three bogeys, then reversed it with five birdies in seven holes. But he blew the birdie chance at No. 7, lipped out a birdie putt at the eighth and finished with a three-putt from 60 feet at the ninth."It's pathetic the way I'm playing," he said. "There's no other way to describe it. I'm just not in a really good mood. I worked so hard for it and I come out there and ... it's nothing."A mob of players is tied for eighth at 1-over: Brian Anania of Hurricane, Kenneth Hess of Parkersburg, Ken Lacy of Man, Christopher McGinnis of Waynesburg, Pa., Phillip Reale II and Bosten Miller of Charleston, and Alan Cooke of Vienna.Miller and Anania both had 70s to better their first-round 75s, but others flipped good first rounds.
For instance, McGinnis has a 70-75, and Hurricane teaching pro Scott Davis a 70-76. Then there is Ian Patrick of Huntington, who followed his 69 with a 77.Still, that leaves him in a tie for 15th and well inside the top-15 amateurs, which would land him an exemption into the West Virginia Amateur in August.He didn't seem worried about the shots he left on the well-manicured course."It's a great story that I can even be involved with these guys," Patrick said. "It's a treat for me to be out here, right in the mix with everybody and having fun."Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.