Sam O'Dell, three time West Virginia Amateur champion
By Richard L. Stevens, Jr. for the West Virginia Golf Association
DANIELS, WV (June 15, 2017) - Grinding is a slang golf term that refers to a player rallying to save shots, typically accompanied by unrelenting pressure. What is unbearable to some, is embraceable to Sam O’Dell. The Hurricane dentist’s steady hand served him well at the 98th West Virginia Amateur Presented by Mercedes-Benz.
O’Dell shot a final-round 1-over 72 to win his third State Amateur, holding off Scott Depot’s Chris Williams at The Resort at Glade Springs’ Cobb Course. His first title came in 2013, his second in 2015, and his third this week. “When you get the opportunity to win a golf tournament like this, you have to take advantage of it,” O’Dell said. “If I didn’t win it again, it would’ve been two years, then it would’ve been three … if it keeps going you wonder (if it’ll happen again), especially with the kids knocking it by me.”
O’Dell had to fight off West Virginia University graduate Chris Williams, who didn’t play in 2016 while attending classes. He finished 11th in 2015. Williams’ run was brief, but palpable. The former Winfield High School standout had five birdies and two bogeys through 12 holes, but bogeyed three of the next four to fall out of contention. His only hope on No. 18 was to get a birdie and for O’Dell to double bogey, something he hadn’t done the previous 71 holes. “On 14, I hit it a little in the trees and had a punch shot but didn’t hit a good chip,” Williams said. “I hit a really good shot on 15, but three-putted for bogey from about 12 feet. On 17, I hit another good chip shot and missed a 3-footer. Just some putts today.”
The talk of the tournament was 16-year-old Washington High School junior-to-be Christian Boyd. Boyd was in the final group with O’Dell and Hurricane’s Brian Anania, who won the 2014 championship. He trailed by two shots after the third round and closed the gap with a birdie on the par 3 No. 13. However, four consecutive bogeys brought him back toward the field. Number 13 was a 180-yard hole that included a Mercedes-Benz at the tee box. No players could win a car, which was to be awarded to every competitor who aced the hole during the final round. Boyd came within 10 feet on his tee shot, but that proved to be his final birdie before one on 18, which came too late. Still, the teenager playing in his first Amateur won’t have to qualify to compete in his second. The top 15 finishers and ties are exempt for qualifying in next year’s event, which is expected to return to the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.
This year, the Amateur left the Greenbrier for just the fifth time in the 98 years it has been contested, putting all four rounds on the same course for only the second time since 1997. In 1998, Bridgeport’s Pete Dye Golf Club played host with Pat Carter winning his fourth consecutive Amateur. Only two players in the top 20 that year competed in this week’s event – Tad Tomblin and Steve Fox. O’Dell and brother Matt O’Dell played in the 1998 Amateur, but neither made the cut. “I play pretty good here, I feel pretty comfortable here,” Sam O’Dell said. “There are four or five shots here I don’t like, but this week I hit those pretty well actually. “I couldn’t be more pleased. I’m wore out.”
O’Dell’s championship earns him a spot in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic. Last year’s Amateur champ, Alan Cooke, had his 2016 exemption moved to this year. O’Dell played in the 2015 Classic following his Amateur championship and shot a respectable 140, following a first-round 68 with a second-round 72.
Charleston’ Philip Reale had back-to-back solid rounds, shooting 2-under 70 each on Wednesday and Thursday to finish fifth. Other players 2-under par on Thursday were Princeton’s Tyler Hillyer, Parkersburg’s Ben Palmer, Huntington’s Thomas Frazier, Bridgeport’s Todd Westfall, and Charleston’s Aaron Persily – all of whom earn exemptions in the 99th Amateur in 2018. The 2016 Amateur champion Alan Cooke was 9-over for the tournament, finishing in a tie for 15th. Next up on the West Virginia Golf Association schedule is the Women’s Amateur, June 20-21 at Alpine Lakes Resort. The State Open Championship will be held July 19-21 at Edgewood Country Club in Sissonville.
View results for West Virginia Amateur
ABOUT THE West Virginia Amateur
Must be a WVGA member, players who are not
must qualify at one of the six qualifying locations in
May. Format is 72-holes of stroke play championship
with the field cut to the low 48 players and ties at
completion of 36 holes.
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