Lucky 7? Not at all
VIENNA, W.Va. - The seventh time David Bradshaw won the West Virginia Open, he didn't need to sweat out a one-stroke cushion or win a playoff.
This time, he slammed the door on the field, and did it repeatedly.
The Jefferson County native and touring pro won his seventh Open in style Friday, posting a 5-under-par 67 to finish at 11-under 205, four strokes ahead of Sam O'Dell.
O'Dell, the Hurricane dentist who is much more of a part-time player, posted an identical 67 to easily win the low-amateur honor. After five holes Friday, he was eyeing a bigger prize when he climbed to within a stroke of Bradshaw.
Then the champ answered with an emphatic "no dice," eagling the 509-yard, par-5 sixth hole to take a two-stroke advantage. As well as O'Dell played, he got no closer the rest of the way.
Bradshaw, who entered the day with a three-shot lead over Woody Woodward, started the day at 1 over through the first five holes and looked vulnerable. Briefly.
"It was the turning point for me," Bradshaw said. "I was swinging pretty terrible, I would say, [on] 1 through 5. I just needed something to go my way, and I hit a good shot there and I made that, and it was game on."
He fired 69s in the first two rounds Wednesday and Thursday and felt good about neither. That carried over to Friday, but the feeling ended at the sixth tee.
"I crushed the tee shot there," he said. "I had 224 [yards] in; there was some room to the left of that pin, so I wasn't fearing it. I carry a 4-iron about 219, so I said I could get to the top of that ridge [but] I had to flush it. It came off as good as I've hit a golf ball all week."
A 5-foot putt later he had the upper hand again, and fellow competitors O'Dell and Woodward knew it. Bradshaw went 6 under in the final 13 holes, narrowly missing just one green in regulation.
"Going out today, I thought if I could get to 8 under, shoot a 66, the 'round of your life' sort of a deal, maybe have a shot," O'Dell said. "It wouldn't have mattered. He's tough - and he probably gave a couple away."
The 30-year-old Bradshaw added to the Opens he won in 2004 as an amateur, then in 2006-07 and 2009-11 as a professional. He ranks second to the 17 titles won by the great Sam Snead.
His $6,000 check adds to the $4,000 he earned last week on the eGolf Tour, finishing fifth in an event in Charlottesville, Va. Next week he'll tackle the Frank Fuhrer Invitational in Pittsburgh, a $175,000-purse tournament in which he's the defending champion.
Tied for third behind Bradshaw and O'Dell were Bob Friend of Pittsburgh and Christian Brand of Charleston. The second-best amateur was Charleston's Bosten Miller, who just finished his first year in Marshall's medical school. He was tied with Kenneth Hess, a pro from Parkersburg.
Philip Reale II was alone in seventh at 1 under, and Woodward finished eighth at even. Woodward, who will play collegiately at Wake Forest, suffered a 75 Friday, which included a two-stroke penalty on the second hole.
Bradshaw was aided by the absence of past Open champs Jonathan Clark, Craig Berner and Barry Evans, all playing in Sunriver, Ore., at the PGA Professional National Championship.
Then again, Bradshaw wouldn't mind being somewhere else when the 2014 Open is played at Glade Springs. A hint: After playing in Pittsburgh, he is gunning for the Monday qualifier for the Greenbrier Classic, also played at the Cobb Course.
"My game's been so good this year," he said. "I need opportunities to play at a high level, and that's kind of what I'm waiting on. If I could squeak through those Mondays and get in, get the chance to play, because if I can play this well at a higher level, payday could be really, really big, substantial, life-changing."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.