State Amateur notebook: Add Chris Williams to list of young contenders
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - With his sixth-place finish in the West Virginia Amateur, 17-year-old Chris Williams continued his breakthrough season.
The senior-to-be at Winfield High finished with a 75 Thursday, giving him a 72-hole total of 294, 10 over par. He was tied with Tad Tomblin and Jay Woodward and two strokes behind fellow Putnam County residents Sam O'Dell and Brian Anania, who tied for fourth.
Williams finished a close second in the Top Flite Junior Tour 17-18 player of the year standings despite playing just seven events. He had the boys' low round in three of those tournaments.
On a national scale, he finished sixth or better in three American Junior Golf Association tournaments. Now he heads into his high school senior season with a 2013 State Am exemption in his back pocket.
"I used to be hitting the long ball but not chipping and putting very well," Williams said. "Now I'm more well-rounded. My short game has gotten a lot better."
Williams started the State Am with rounds of 71 and 73, then tailed off with a 75 on the somewhat easier Greenbrier course. He suffered two double bogeys Thursday on Old White TPC, but rallied with three birdies on the back nine.
His closest friends on the course are noticing that resilience, and the result.
"He's stepped up so much in the past year, he's playing so well," Anania said. "He's hitting the ball a lot better. The biggest thing is he's playing a lot smarter than he used to."
Pat Carter's 13th championship was different from the previous 12, and it wasn't about that exemption to a PGA Tour event next summer.
Carter rode around the course this week with 12-year-old son Hogan donning the caddy's bib. In his 2006 championship, and most of his titles before that, Carter's caddy was older brother Earl.
Tragically, Earl died in 2009. Since then, Carter's two children are growing up quickly - not only was Hogan getting course management lessons from his dad, 7-year-old Heidi was walking the course for the first time with her mother, Kelly.
Not that Carter minds it, but family demands have taken a few practice rounds from his golf schedule. For example, Hogan is a pretty good Little League baseball player, which means more than a few trips to the local diamond.
Carter had not played competitively since mid-June, when he finished 37th at the Sunnehanna Invitational at Westmont, Pa. He missed the West Virginia Open later that month because he was away on business.
He wasn't sure which way his shots were going to go this week, but his short game was as sharp as ever - which would have made ol' Earl proud.
"He was here every year on the bag, except for the first one. He was here for that one, he just walked around," Carter said. "I thought about it. I'm sure he was looking down."
The top 15 players earned exemptions into the 2013 State Amateur, with Carter winning yet another five-year pass.
All who broke 300 will be back next year without having to qualify - Winston Canada (290), Jeremy Rogers (291), O'Dell and Anania (292), Tomblin, Williams and Woodward (294), Bosten Miller (295), Thadd Obecny II (296), Michael Koreski (297), Trent Roush, Joey Seabright and David Dent (298) and Mark Pinti (299).
Carter has won State Ams in four different decades, spanning the 1980s, '90s, 2000s and this decade. He is the third to accomplish that feat, and state golf junkies can quickly name the first two: Ed Tutwiler Jr. and William Campbell.
Tutwiler won the first of his 11 titles in 1939, and also won in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, last doing so in 1963. Campbell won his record 15 in the '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s, spanning from 1949 to 1975.
Campbell's 1975 title came when he was 52, eight years older than Carter.
It's not a big surprise, but the State Am will return to The Greenbrier for 2013. By historical accounts, the resort has hosted 86 of the 93 tournaments, dating back to 1916.
The date is not yet set, and a swap in dates with the West Virginia Open is possible. The latest open was played June 20-22.
That could have implications for three-time State Amateur champion Tim Fisher, who is still under suspension by the West Virginia Golf Association. He is scheduled to be reinstated in July 2013.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.