State Open notebook: Woodwards head in different directions
VIENNA, W.Va. - Jay Woodward is the man of few words in Bridgeport's top golfing family, but he had a few words about his younger brother Woody's college career.
The more talkative Woody fired a 67 Thursday in the second round of the West Virginia Open, sporting his new Wake Forest shirt as he went. He is joining the Deamon Deacons this fall - and not following Jay to Penn State.
"No, he's too good to go there," Jay said after his second-round 72. "He needs to go somewhere south, and go somewhere he can play year-round and learn a little more from a good coaching staff, good schedule.
"That's not taking anything away from Penn State, it's just [that] Wake Forest is a little better."
Just a little. Wake is the alma mater of several current and former PGA Tour pros, including Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Jay Haas, Scott Hoch, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins and the king himself, Arnold Palmer.
Jerry Haas, Jay's brother and Bill's uncle, enters his 18th year running the Hokies program.
Woody Woodward played scholastically at Hilton Head Prep, where he was named the South Carolina High School Player of the Year in 2011 - the same year he won the West Virginia Junior Match Play. He also finished fourth in Junior PGA Championship that year.
He was ranked 12th in the college recruiting class of 2013 by Junior Golf Scoreboard, and Thursday's round shows he hasn't lost anything.
"Unfortunately, I had my two shoulder surgeries [during recruiting], but I was able to bounce back in juniors, get to the point to where I could start getting recruited by Jerry Haas at Wake," he said. "Kind of fell in love with the whole school, the whole atmosphere and what they were building, so [I'm] excited to go in."
Jay Woodward said he has a few classes to go to get his business management degree at Penn State, plus he has another year of eligibility.
Woodward finished as high as fourth in a tournament in 2012-13, finishing with a 60th place in the Big Ten tournament.
"It's kind of tough with the weather. Sometimes you feel prepared going into a tournament because you get practice, and other times it snows the whole week before," Jay said. "It's been up and down, but every summer I seem to get it back. I'm right on track."
The 111-year-old Parkersburg Country Club does not feature an imposing course, at least at first glance. The track consists of 18 mostly flat holes with the Ohio River fronting the far side. But the West Virginia Golf Association is finding a way here and there to make it difficult.
The scores show it: Ten of the 120-man field shot below the par-72 on Thursday, a day after seven players did it in the first round. The two-day course average is 76.892, almost 5 over par.
Parkersburg's Kenneth Hess, who has played the course as much as anyone in the field, saw the difference, especially with a few devilish hole placements. Those teeing off from No. 10 had to finish with two of the toughest on the course, plugged into small landing areas.
"I'm comfortable playing this golf course, and even if you play difficult tournaments here, they don't stick them in these hole locations," Hess said. "This is probably the most difficult putting I've seen anywhere, especially on this golf course."
"This course is decent, it's not that hard when it's normal, but when they put it like this, and 'tip' everything out, this is an extremely hard golf course."
Ken Tackett, executive director of the WVGA, said the tournament committee got creative - too much so, some players would say.
"It's our state championship, and [the scores] aren't that bad," Tackett said. "We had a 67 and a 69. It's right where we want it; the conditions are so soft that you're really able to hide the hole locations and the good players can throw right at it. The rough is in perfect shape, the greens are firming up, the foot traffic is getting better and better.
"Tomorrow should be perfect."
More and more, "pace of play" is the buzzword in tournament golf, and the state Open is no different.
The threesome of Woody Woodward, leader David Bradshaw and Christian Brand was caught several times waiting on the threesome in front. Sometimes there was trouble, such as a player losing his ball; sometimes they seemed to bog down.
Then again, Woodward is one of the fastest players around, and Bradshaw and Brand are not slowpokes. When they got in their rhythm, they seemed to play better, too.
All problems were ironed out and everybody lived to tell about it, penalty-free - as usual.
"Today, we had a couple of groups who were struggling for a while," Tackett said. "Being on 'cart path only' and you hit a couple of bad shots and have to go back to your cart, go back over to your ball, and then you start grinding trying to save [your round].
"We had no rounds, today or yesterday, over 5 hours. They're all between 4 and 4:45, and we're happy with that - especially with 'cart path only.'"
Sixty-two players made the cut of 9-over 153. The ones making it on the number included two Kanawha Valley players heading to college careers, Chris Williams of Scott Depot (Coastal Carolina) and Will Evans of Charleston (Marshall).
Other Valley players who will tee it up today: Brand, Bosten Miller, Phillip Reale II, Duke Erwin, Tyler Franklin and Carl Roncaglione of Charleston; Sam O'Dell, Brian Anania, Scott Davis and Brandon Tinney of Hurricane; Joshua Wolfe of Elkview; and Robert Jones of St. Albans.
Other notables included Tad Tomblin of Alum Creek at 4 over and veteran amateur contender Steve Fox at 8 over.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.