Christian’s Sports Beat: Driving for number three
Usually when I go to the dentist’s office, I am the one answering all the questions. But I got to turn the tables on Hurricane dentist Sam O’Dell last week and find out about him winning the West Virginia Amateur golf title for the third time in five years.
The last time I spoke with O’Dell, it was on the heels of his second title in 2015. This time I wanted to know how it felt to hoist the winner’s trophy for the third time.
“I really wasn’t expecting it this time, as I hadn’t played a whole lot before the tournament. I have to admit, the second time was really sweet, but, honestly, I think the third time came closer feeling like the first, with how excited I was at the end. I was proud of myself for going ahead and getting the job done,” he said.
O’Dell captured his third west Virginia Amateur crown by two shots over Chris Williams of Scott Depot.
I have learned in my early athletic endeavors that experience can separate competitors during crunch time. For the final round of the amateur, O’Dell went up against a number of young West Virginia golfers, including Williams, former champion Brian Anania of Hurricane, Will Evans of Charleston, Christian Boyd of Charles Town and defending champion Alan Cooke of Vienna and thought his experience would push him through.
“I think it was everything,” O’Dell said. “I played better the first two times I won the amateur than I did this past time and I knew one of the young guys would make a run at me the last day, but they were all trying to win for the first time and I had been there before, and that makes a world of difference, when you are looking over that six-foot putt.”
O’Dell shot a 2-over-par 73 on the final day to finish at 1-under 283 on the Cobb Course at Glade Springs Resort in Daniels. O’Dell won his previous two titles at The Greenbrier Resort, as this year’s tournament was moved due to last summer’s flooding that damaged The Greenbrier’s courses.
One of O’Dell’s mentors is 13-time West Virginia Amateur champion Pat Carter of Huntington. Due to business obligations, Carter was absent at this year’s tournament, but that didn’t stop O’Dell from relying on Carter’s long-distance advice. “One of the main things he reminded me was that the Amateur, with 72 holes, is a long tournament and whoever can keep it together for all four days will be there at the end. It really helped to hear from him every evening and have him reassure me and remind me to stick with my game plan and everything will be OK,” O’Dell said.
By winning this year’s West Virginia Amateur, O’Dell will get to participate in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic, an event he played in 2015, but failed to make the cut.
At nearly 40 years old, O’Dell is becoming one of the veteran players in the Mountain State. I wanted to know how he felt about the up-and-coming young golfers across West Virginia. “There are a lot of good young players out there right now, but things may change for them as they get older and get a job and start a family, those of the type of things that can take you out of it for a while. But this state definitely has players coming along that will keep evertything competitive.”
Going into the final round of the tournament, the three-time champion had a one-shot lead over Boyd, a teenager from the Eastern Panhandle.
They say the third time is the charm, and here’s hoping for a grand slam fourth amateur title is on the horizon for O’Dell.
Christian Deiss, 13, of Scott Depot is a student at Hurricane Middle School.