O'Dell opens 4-stroke lead at State Amateur
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - It doesn't seem to matter to Sam O'Dell that some of the state's top golfers aren't in the field for this week's 94th West Virginia Amateur.
The Hurricane dentist seems to be on a mission to capture his first State Am as he sizzled again during Tuesday's second round with a 6-under-par 66 on the par-72, 6,619-yard Greenbrier Course at The Greenbrier resort. It was also cut day as the field was whittled down to the top 40 players, including ties.
O'Dell opened up a four-shot lead after his second straight sub-par round and sits at 8-under 134 for the four-round tournament. He was the only competitor during Monday's opening round to go under par on the longer Old White TPC with a 2-under 68.
Alan Cooke of Vienna, who was the low junior amateur in June's West Virginia Open, nearly kept pace with O'Dell on Tuesday, firing a 5-under 67 but was four shot backs at 4-under 138. Cooke, who will play at South Carolina-Beaufort in the fall, opened with a 1-over 71 Monday.
Thadd Obecny II of Wheeling, a senior at Wheeling Park High School who has verbally committed to Central Florida, was third after turning in a 1-under 71 for a two-round total of 141, seven strokes off the pace.
David Dent of White Sulphur Springs clubbed a 1-under 71 and was in fourth, 10 strokes off the lead at 2-over 144. Duke Erwin of Hurricane, who shot 3-under 69 Tuesday, Brian Anania of Hurricane, a Marshall golfer, and Jeremy Rogers of Buckhannon, who finished third last year, were in a three-way tie for fifth at 3-over 145, 11 shots back.
Jess Ferrell, who was runner-up in 2011, was tied for eighth with Harold Howell of Madison at 4-over 146. Philip Reale of Charleston, Trent Roush of Mason, Woody Woodward of Bridgepor and Jeff Harper of Parkersburg were all in 10th, 14 shots back.
The Amateur is missing Pat Carter, the 13-time winner and defending champion who withdrew Saturday because his son's Little League baseball team from Barboursville was playing in the Southeast Regional, and Tim Fisher, the three-time champion who returned this year after two suspensions over three years but had to disqualify himself during Monday's opening round for playing the wrong ball.
"Theoretically it makes it easier if a good player isn't here,'' said O'Dell, who has finished in the top 10 of the Amateur seven times. "It doesn't bother me. I'm not going to feel sorry for myself.
"If I'm the only one here I'm going to go out there and take it. I'll tweet it and everything. I wanted to get off to a better start the first 45 or 54 holes. It's whoever takes advantage of it at the end. Whoever is holding that trophy, and I'd like to be that guy just one time.''
O'Dell turned in just four birdies but had a pair of eagles and played nearly mistake-free golf with 10 pars and only two bogeys. He played the par 5s at 6 under.
After bogeying the opening hole, he eagled No. 3 and finished the front nine at 2 under. At one point he and Cooke were tied for the overall lead, but then O'Dell hit another gear on the back nine, going 4 under, including a three-hole stretch of birdie-eagle-birdie on Nos. 11-13. O'Dell closed with five straight pars and had no bogeys on the back nine.
"I said I putted good [Monday],'' O'Dell said. "Well, I putted even better today. When I made the putt on 13 [playing partner] Thadd [Obecny] said, 'I quit.'
"My putt on the last four holes all hit the hole. On 18 I stole a five and probably should have had a six. The back nine I felt was more me. I was hitting it more solid. I came out this morning at 8 o'clock and hit balls because of that.''
Cooke had six birdies to go along with one eagle (No. 3) with eight pars and three bogeys. Two of Cooke's bogeys come on No. 15 and No. 16, then he birdied the final two holes.
"I putted really well,'' said Cooke, who graduated in 2012 and then attended the International Junior Golf Academy. "The hole was the size of a bucket.
"I'm not going to let up any because I know these guys are good. I'm hoping to put a little pressure on [O'Dell]. It's moving day. Everybody will be going after it making birdies. I'm going to have to play a little more aggressive.''
The cut line was at 155, 13 over par.
Cam Moore of Spencer, a 15-year-old sophomore at Roane County High School, turned in one of Tuesday's under-par performances with a 70 to make the cut and vault into a tie for 14th.
Tad Tomblin of Alum Creek, who shot a 1-under 71, Chris Williams of Scott Depot, a Coastal Carolina recruit, Will Evans of Charleston, who will play at Marshall in the fall, and Bosten Miller of Charleston are also moving on to the final two rounds.
Senior golfers Harold Payne of Hurricane, a five-time Amateur winner, John Duty Sr. of Hurricane and Steve Fox of Huntington also survived the cut.
Winston Canada of Beckley, who was last year's runner-up, and Buffalo's Cory Hoshor missed the cut. Jay Woodward of Fairmont, Woody Woodward's older brother who played at Penn State, withdrew during Tuesday's second round for personal reasons.
Today's third round will also take place on the Greenbrier Course before shifting back to the par-70, 7,042-yard Old White TPC, the 99-year-old course that hosts the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic, for Thursday's final round.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.