If the first two days of the 101st West Virginia State Amateur were any indication, then Ravenswood’s Alex Easthom should be right in the thick of things by today (Friday) for the championship of this prestigious event being staged at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs.
The former Red Devil standout and current West Liberty State University golfer was sitting in fifth place and just two shots off the lead going into the third round yesterday (Thursday).
The State Am, administered by the West Virginia Golf Association, is being played on both the Meadows Course and Old White TPC.
Easthom fired an opening round 3-under-par 69 on the Meadows Course Tuesday.
He followed that up with a 2-under-par 68 in Wednesday’s second round on Old White.
One could say Easthom has proven to be the “Comeback Kid” after his early holes in Tuesday’s first round. He bogeyed three straight right out of the gate before regaining his form.
Easthom entered the tournament hoping to keep the momentum going following great showings earlier this summer at the West Virginia Open and Pittsburgh Open – two tournaments featuring not only amateurs but professionals.
Action was set to move back to the Meadows Course on Thursday with Friday’s final round unfolding on the Old White.
Poca’s Mitch Hoffman was in front after Day 1 with an opening round 67.
Noah Mullens of Milton took the lead after Day 2 by following up his 68 on Monday with a 67.
Hoffman and Philip Reale of Hurricane were tied for second and just one shot in front of Easthom with two-day totals of 136.
Easthom was ahead of some outstanding golfers in defending champ Mason Williams of Bridgeport, 13-time winner Pat Carter and Cam Roam, both from Huntington, by two shots on the leaderboard.
The trio had two-day totals of 139.
MORE JACKSON COUNTY FLAVOR: One-time Ripley High standout Tyler Franklin, who enjoyed a nice collegiate career at Fairmont State, made the cut for the final two rounds. Now residing in Morgantown, Franklin had rounds of 75 and 76.
Ripley insurance agent Brian Johnson wasn’t as fortunate in his go-round at the State Am and was unable to move on for the final two rounds.
Johnson is well-remembered for his kicking prowess in blue and white uniforms – first for Ripley and then the University of Kentucky.
He’s served locally as the “voice” of high school sports for WCEF-FM the last several years.
THE REALE DEAL: No one wants the State Amateur title any more than does Phil Reale.
He was so close yet, so far, a year ago in the 100th edition of the tournament losing in a playoff.
Reale admitted on the WV MetroNews “Statewide Sportsline” last year’s effort gave him the confidence he needs to go out and become a champion.
His younger brother, Anthony, won the State Am crown in 2007.
The Reales grew up in Glenville and played at Gilmer County High School.
SILVER FOX: Past champion Steve Fox can still pick them up and put them down on the course.
The 67-year-old Fox was just five shots off the lead heading into the third round.
Fox fired a 69 on the opening day and came in with a 71 on Day 2.
His championships at the State Am came in the years of 1988 and again in 1994.
Fox is one of the nicest and classiest golfers there is playing in West Virginia Golf Association events.