(WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS) – The 2001 State Amateur Championship was a long time ago, but the memories stick with Hurricane’s Sam O’Dell. As he won the 99th West Virginia Amateur Presented by Mercedes-Benz on Thursday, O’Dell reflected on the time before he won his first – he now has four – and the lost opportunity to play with Pat Carter. “I never played in the final group with Pat,” said O’Dell, who birdied No. 17 to break a tie and earn a two-stroke victory on the Old White TPC at the Greenbrier. On August 8, 2001, prior to the final round of the Amateur, O’Dell was in an all-terrain vehicle accident with friends Jeff Whitman and Michael Veres. O’Dell was tied for second and would have played in the final group with Carter on Thursday, but he remained in critical condition for three days, finally being moved from the intensive care unit the Saturday after. Meanwhile, Carter was winning the seventh of his national record 10th consecutive Amateur title. O’Dell recovered, completed dental school at West Virginia University, and has a successful practice in Hurricane a little more than a stone’s throw from his home course of Sleepy Hollow Golf Club. Still, at 23 years old, O’Dell saw his life change forever. “There for a while I didn’t remember a lot of that whole deal,” O’Dell said. “It’s hard to think a lot about it. I struggled for a long time, for sure. I went back to dental school and your golf game is going to suffer anyway, whether or not your going to make it back. To be able to be paired with Pat, and kind of feel like it has come full circle. One-hundred percent.”
O’Dell is playing in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic July 2-8 at the Old White TPC following his 2017 Amateur championship. He held off Carter during a wild back nine of the final round that saw the duo tied after 16 holes, giving Carter two holes to lay claim to his 14th Amateur championship and first since 2012. However, O’Dell’s second shot on 17 hit the green 35 feet above the hole and he two-putted for birdie. Carter hit his second shot into a fairway bunker on the right and bogeyed, giving the two-shot lead back to O’Dell. Carter also had his struggles putting, which included missing a 3-footer for birdie on No. 5 that would have tied the match.
“There are a lot of shots I left out there on this golf course both days,” Carter said. “(On 17), the pin was front left and I want to be to the right and after I hit it I thought it should be good, then Nick (Dent) and Chandler (Beavers) said, ‘I think it’s in the bunker.’ I said, ‘Bunker? I didn’t even know it was there.’ That left me with one of the toughest shots in golf, but I still should’ve made par.” The two-shot deficit was too much to overcome for Carter on the par 3 No. 18. O’Dell eased his tee shot to the front of the green and two-putter for par to complete the round and his title. “Being one down going to 18 is a much bigger difference,” Carter said.
The first player with a hole in one on No. 18 was to win a 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250. While O’Dell played it safe, Carter didn’t have to. Still, his tee shot left him with a long putt and he two-putted for par.
“I don’t think he was shooting for the center of the green and I didn’t hit a very good shot,” Carter said. This was something of a return to form Carter on the Old White, a course he dominated before the redesign for the Greenbrier Classic. “The tournament was on the greens for me,” said Carter, who added that his ball-striking was on point Thursday. “I just kind of threw it away. To get out of there with 73, it might as well been 80. That’s what it felt like. It should’ve been a 67 or a 68.”
Nick Dent was in the final group with O’Dell and Carter, but finished fourth with a 6-over 76 for the day. Charleston’s Nick Biesecker, a former professional who was playing in his first Amateur, finished third after having the low round of the day with a 70. O’Dell and Carter shot 3-over 73.
Mason Williams of Bridgeport, Christian Boyd of Charles Town and Mark Johnson of Morgantown finished tied for fifth.
Cam Roam of Huntington was eighth, Philip Reale ninth and Jess Ferrell rounded out the top 10.