Open Am 5

Joseph Kalaskey lines up his putt on No. 15 during the third round of the West Virginia Amateur Thursday at The Greenbrier.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — A short birdie miss on the 17th hole was the epitome of a back nine that left Joseph Kalaskey a little bitter Thursday afternoon. It came at the end of a round of 3-over 73 during the third round of the 100th West Virginia Amateur on the Old White TPC at The Greenbrier.

Still, the rising senior at George Washington has continued some excellent play that he began last year during the high school season, which eventually ended with a Class AAA championship for the Patriots and an individual medalist honor for Kalaskey.

He will enter Friday’s final round at 6 over for the tournament and in a tie with Tad Tomblin for eighth place. Kalaskey had claimed sole possession of third at one point during Thursday’s round, but that slipped away with a double bogey on the par-3 15th.

“That was one of the most disappointing 73s I’ve ever shot,” he said. “[Hole No.] 15 was such a disappointing hole. I hit 5-iron and thought I hit it pretty good and it was so soft. I hit it and it came right back in.”

Still, it has been a year of big-time golf for Kalaskey, who’s looking to carry some big momentum back into the prep season, which starts next week.

“It’s a lot better considering I didn’t even make it here last year,” Kalaskey said. “If I put up a good number I could get top five so we’ll see.”

For a year or two, Kalaskey’s older sister Torren stole the headlines in the family. She too was a standout player at GW and now golfs for Marshall. She was also the female player of the year on the Callaway Junior Tour two years ago.

But with Joseph Kalaskey playing as the team’s number one, the Patriots finally broke through in Wheeling last fall to claim a Class AAA crown. Since then, he’s made a name for himself and continues to play well in nearly any tournament he enters.

“That was the start of good playing, I played really well the whole high school season,” Kalaskey said. “Played really well in Wheeling and after that, in the winter just hitting a ton of balls at Berry Hills [Country Club].

“I think my game has gotten a lot better, putting has gotten so much better. I went to a putting coach in North Carolina and my putting has gotten so much better.”

Kalaskey is the leader in the running for the tournament’s low junior award, given to players age 18 and younger, and he has a pretty nice cushion of five shots over Christian Boyd, who is plus-11. So while his struggles toward the end of Thursday’s round may have taken him a bit too far out to contend for the win, there’s still plenty to play for on Friday.

“Top 10 is the goal now,” Kalaskey said. “Top five would be ideal. I’ve got to shoot like 64 tomorrow, that would be nice. Just need something good tomorrow so we’ll see.”

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There was a tense moment early in the final group’s round on Thursday.

Woody Woodward, who will enter Friday’s final round one shot behind leader Philip Reale, hit an approach on the fourth green that rolled just onto the cuff. Thinking it was part of the putting surface, Woodward marked and cleaned his ball, which resulted in a one-stroke penalty.

Woodward pleaded his case to West Virginia Golf Association Executive Director Brad Ullman, but ultimately lost that appeal.

“Woody’s golf ball was on the back side of the green and it was questionable whether or not it was on the putting surface or on the collar,” Ullman said. “The course conditions are so perfect and the difference between fringe height and green height is very close. After looking at it closely and bringing in some other folks to look at it, it was determined it was on the fringe.

“The definition of a putting green is the area that is prepared for putting and that little higher blade of grass for the fringe is not prepared for putting, it’s there for the fringe. Therefore when he picked up his golf ball he was doing so not in accordance to the rules.”

Woodward, who was sitting atop the leaderboard when the infraction occurred, was understandably animated for a moment but settled down quickly to hole that putt and save par. It was a moment that he said demonstrated a newfound maturity in his game and life.

“That shows that I’ve grown up a little bit,” he said of the putt. “I’ve got to take full responsibility for it. I lost a little bit of train of thought and didn’t focus very hard. I thought I was on the green and two rules officials disagreed, so that’s the way it goes.”

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Reale’s father Phil has gotten to take in much of his son’s play over the first three days in working with the WVGA.

After Thursday’s round, Philip Reale’s 16-month-old daughter Eddison ran straight to him while still at the scoring table. To say the least, it’s a true family affair for Reale at The Greenbrier this week.

On the doorstep of finally breaking through at the Amateur, their presence has made this week even more special for him.

“This is the first year that she’s been upright and been out here,” Reale said. “It’s fun that [wife] Abby was able to take a couple days off and bring Eddison down. It’ll be nice having them here [for Friday’s final round]. I don’t know how much golf course time they’re going to get tomorrow because she’s not going to be real quiet tomorrow, but it’ll be nice having them here and knowing I have their support. Without their support, I’m not going to be here anyway.”

Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pritt@wvgazettemail.com or follow him @RPritt on Twitter.