O'Dell ups State Amateur lead to nine strokes
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - On moving day, Sam O'Dell stayed put atop the leaderboard for the third straight day of the 94th West Virginia Amateur.
The Hurricane dentist kept up his torrid pace and furthered his stranglehold on the lead, shooting a 3-under-par 69 during Wednesday's third round on the par-72, 6,619-yard Greenbrier Course at The Greenbrier resort.
O'Dell, who has finished in the top 10 seven times in the Amateur but has never won the grueling four-day event, extended his lead to nine shots and stands at 11-under 203. He is the only competitor to shoot under par in all three rounds. O'Dell has shot 9 under the last two rounds on the Greenbrier Course, increasing his margin threefold from three to nine strokes.
"It's no fun at all,'' smiled O'Dell, a former Marshall golfer, of being in the unfamiliar position of leader heading into today's final round. "If I had been here before I'd tell you about it. It's different for sure. It's kind of been weird.
"After the first day, I've gotten out here and been the last person to warm up, and then I finish and everyone's gone. I haven't talked to anybody. I've been by myself. You're hanging out with people usually. I think it's helping me a little bit. I really haven't gotten the feeling there's too much pressure being applied.''
Several players tried to catch O'Dell during Wednesday's third round, but none got close.
Alan Cooke of Vienna couldn't keep up with the 32-year-old O'Dell, clubbing a 2-over 74 for a 54-hole total of 2-under 212, falling farther behind in second. Cooke, who will play at South Carolina-Beaufort this fall, fired a 5-under 67 Tuesday and trailed by only four strokes heading into Wednesday. At one point Tuesday, Cooke and O'Dell were tied for the lead.
David Dent of White Sulphur Springs, a former player at Bluefield State who has taken over the coaching duties there, sits in third after a 3-under 69 Wednesday but trails by 10 strokes at 1-under 213. Dent made a run with five straight birdies on holes 8-12, but it wasn't enough. O'Dell, Cooke and Dent are the only ones who are under par for the tournament through the first three rounds.
"That's pretty safe,'' said Dent of O'Dell's lead. "He's playing lights out.''
Brian Anania of Hurricane, who plays at Marshall, holds down fourth place after a 2-under 70 Wednesday and has a three-round total of 1-over 215. Harold Howell of Madison and Thadd Obecny II of Wheeling, a Wheeling Park High School standout who has verbally committed to Central Florida, are tied for fifth at 3-over 217. Howell shot 1-under 71 Wednesday while Obecny fell off the pace with a 4-over 76 after Tuesday's 1-under 71.
Bosten Miller of Charleston and Ian Patrick of Huntington shared Wednesday's low-round honors, firing matching 67s. Miller was tied for eighth at 5-over 219 with Jess Ferrell of Fairmont, who was runner-up at the Amateur in 2011. Patrick was tied for 10th with Philip Reale II of Charleston at 7-over 221. Patrick rebounded after Tuesday's 9-over 81.
Woody Woodward of Bridgeport, a Wake Forest recruit, and Thomas Knight II of Lewisburg carded the only other sub-par rounds Wednesday. Woodward, who's in seventh place, turned in a 2-under 70 while Knight had a 1-under 71 and is tied for 17th with six others.
O'Dell's third round Wednesday included a pair of eagles, four birdies and eight pars. He made a few more mistakes than Tuesday with three bogeys and one double bogey after only making two bogeys in the second round.
O'Dell, who opened with a birdie on No. 1 Wednesday, played the five par-5s at 5 under after playing those at 6 under Tuesday. He eagled two par-5s and birdied another in the third round.
"I really, really wanted to get off to a good start because [I wanted to put pressure on my competitors],'' O'Dell said. "If I make birdie on Pat Carter on the first hole, he doesn't care. I wanted to hit some really solid golf shots in the beginning just to show, 'Wow, he's here today, too.' You've got to play that a little bit.''
Will Evans of Charleston, a Marshall recruit, is tied for 12th with Jeremy Rogers of Buckhannon, who finished third in last year's Amateur. Chris Williams of Scott Depot, who is headed to Division I Coastal Carolina, is in 16th place. Senior golfer Harold Payne of Hurricane, a five-time State Am winner, is tied for 17th.
Pat Carter, the 13-time Amateur winner and defending champion, withdrew Saturday after his son's Little League baseball team from Barboursville advanced to the Southeast Regional. In addition, Tim Fisher, a three-time titlist in the Am who returned this year after serving two suspensions totaling nearly three years, had to disqualify himself after playing the wrong ball in Monday's opening round.
Today's final round shifts back to the par-70, 7,042-yard Old White TPC, the 99-year-old course that hosts the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic. O'Dell was the only player under par in Monday's first round with a 2-under 68.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.