WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Between the ever-growing group of young contenders, the increasing demands of fatherhood and that unstoppable foe Father Time, Pat Carter truly wondered if he'd ever win another West Virginia Amateur.
Thursday at The Greenbrier resort's fabled Old White TPC, the 44-year-old Huntington resident won his 13th championship, beating Winston Canada by two strokes. Carter finished with a 4-over-par 288 after his final-round 73.
That ended Carter's six-year drought, tied for the longest in his career. As a bonus he didn't enjoy in his first 12 wins, Carter earned a berth in the 2013 Greenbrier Classic.
"Winning is so tough to do, no matter what, no matter what tournament you're trying to play in golf," he said. "I wondered that, back in the day, if I was going to win my second one. It was the same thing: I won it in '89 and I didn't win it again until '95."
Twenty-three years removed from his first title, Carter has now won in four different decades. He used the same formula that earned him 10 straight titles from 1995-2004: Stay out of trouble, hit a big birdie putt or two and then watch the rest of the field come unglued.
He did very well on the first goal. He had a stretch of three bogeys in four holes to finish the front nine, but only suffered an inconsequential bogey on the 18th afterward. He had just one double bogey in 72 holes, coming Tuesday on Old White's tough No. 13.
He had two birdies Thursday, critical both at the time and by the round's conclusion.
On the par-4 fifth hole, Carter rolled in a 40-foot putt dead center, bringing him back to 1 over and giving him his first lead of the day. His "nervy" 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th gave him a two-shot lead, which quickly grew to three when Canada bogeyed the par-5 17th in the group ahead.
At that point, Carter reaped the rewards of a solid, unspectacular back nine which featured seven pars. Appropriately, he scored an even-par 36 on that side.
"I hit a bunch of quality iron shots, and that's been a strength my whole career," he said. "I didn't get a lot of the putts to fall, but hit a bunch of good putts [that came close]. Stress-free pars."
While he was recording those stress-free pars, Old White was stressing out his pursuers.
Carter began the day tied with Penn State player Jay Woodward and Marshall golfer Jeremy Rogers at 1 over, with Canada two shots back. One by one, those three contenders met with disaster.
Woodward was first to go sideways, with double bogeys on Nos. 7, 8 and 9. He needed two shots to get out of a bunker on No. 7, missed a 5-foot putt on No. 8 and found the trees on the left of No. 9.
On the latter hole, Carter had his own problems and found himself two shots behind Rogers at the turn. After pulling his drive almost to the adjacent fairway, Carter had to shoot over trees (he had no chance going underneath), and his second shot hit a branch and fell straight down. Still, he skated away with a bogey.