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Easthom wins prestigious WV State Am golf title

Mark Martin
Sportswriter
Ravenswood's Alex Easthom proudly displays the trophy he won at the 101st West Virginia Amatuer Golf Championship.

All summer long, Alex Easthom has felt good about his game on the links.

In the last few days, it is safe to say he has been feeling great.

That’s because Easthom is the latest champion of the prestigious West Virginia State Amateur, played at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs.

The former Ravenswood High Red Devil standout and current West Liberty State University golfer fended off an outstanding field to lay claim to his first victory in a West Virginia Golf Association event.

Easthom, who is entering his junior season as a golfer at West Liberty, finished with a four-day total of 276, good for 4-under-par in the 101st edition of the State Am. The tournament was played on both The Greenbrier’s Meadows Course and Old White TPC Course.

His final round of 1-under-par 69 made him the only golfer in the tournament to finish at even par or under for all four rounds.

And without question, that proved to be the difference.

“It’s a pretty good win,” said Easthom. “I had a lot of confidence coming out of Pittsburgh (Open). I had a great first round and not so much the second round. I learned a lot from it.”

Easthom was the leader after the first 18 holes of play in the Pittsburgh event before tying for eighth. He also had a good showing earlier in June at the West Virginia Open.

Both tournaments featured professionals and amateurs.

Easthom entered the fourth and final round of the State Am Friday on the Old White TPC tied with the great Pat Carter, a 13-time State Am champ, at 3-under.

He would have to not only deal with Carter but defending champion Mason Williams of Bridgeport and Chris Williams of Scott Depot.

He managed to do just that.

Easthom would zoom to a four-shot lead at 6-under-par through 11 holes of play.

His championship day included a one hour and 38-minute rain delay.

He had just birdied No. 7 to remain at 3-under when the rain hit the area.

Once back on the course right before 2:30 p.m., Easthom saved par on both the eighth and ninth holes.

He had an eagle on No. 10 and then a birdie on the par-4 No. 11.

He encountered difficulty down the stretch, though, missing the green on five of his last six holes – including No. 18.

Landing in the bunker at 18, he blasted out of the sand and his shot came within 2-feet of the cup.

Both Chris Williams and Mason Williams, who had earlier recorded sizzling rounds of 65 to finish the State Am at 3-under, watched Easthom tap in the tournament-winner to edge them by one shot.

Carter finished with a 1-over-par 71 and a four day total of 278 (2-under for the tournament).

It was the culmination of an incredible week of golf where Easthom was faced with all the challenges the game has to offer. He managed, though, to stay within striking distance in garnering the greatest accomplishment of his young golfing life.

Easthom gave a round-by-round description of his quest for the title he ultimately claimed.

Round 1 – “The first round I went bogey, bogey, bogey. I got to the No. 4 tee box and pressed the reset button. I was going to use a 5-wood off the tee box but decided to use my driver. I felt I was steering. By changing, it lifted my momentum and my strategy. I decided I was going to go driver everywhere it was feasible. It got me back to 1-under (69 on the Meadows Course).

Round 2 – “I played a flawless front nine in the second round. I only missed one putt I should have made (he finished the day at -2 on the Old White TPC).”

Round 3 – “Playing with Pat and the guys it was a lot of fun. I was grinding. I had some birdies and some bogeys and shot even par (70 on Old the Meadows).”

Round 4 – “The last day was kind of the same as the first three rounds all day long. It was up and down.”

Easthom said it has been like a dream since leaving The Greenbrier and heading back to Jackson County as the State Am champion.

“It’s starting to sink it. Every time I look at the trophy I can’t believe I won,” he said.

Easthom was treated to a celebration on Saturday evening at Greenhills Country Club, where he spends a great deal of time.

Aside from winning the tournament, Easthom said the thrill of thrills was playing with Carter.

“I’d say the two guys I’ve looked up to the most are Pat Carter and Tim Fisher (Ripley native and three-time State Am champ). Of course Tim is local. I’ve played a lot of golf with him. For Pat, it was just unbelievable how good he was. That guy was on another level (winning 10 of his 13 titles consecutively beginning in 1995).”

Easthom feels the tournament title will give him a different approach moving forward.

“Now I know I can win the big one,” he said. “I can close the big tournament.”

He heads off to West Liberty later this month.

Due to COVID-19, the West Liberty golf season will not begin until October 1.

In the meantime, Alex Easthom will just keep working at his game.

It is what has gotten him to this point in his career.

It is why he is now the latest champion of the West Virginia State Amateur.

And why he is feeling so great.

STATE AM NOTEBOOK – Former Ripley Viking and Fairmont State golfer Tyler Franklin got to play all four rounds in the tournament after making the cut. Franklin, who now resides in Morgantown, scored 75, 76, 77 and 75 during the tournament…The 101st State Am was the last for the great Harold Payne, a 5-time winner of the event and also a 4-time West Virginia Open champion…Payne had rounds of 75, 74, 79 and 77…He played the first two rounds with brother-in-law Steve Fox, who had scores of 69-71, 72 and 78…The 65s shot by Mason and Chris Williams on the final day were the best two rounds of the tournament.

A celebration in honor of Alex Easthom's big win was held at Bogey's Restaurant at Greenhills Golf Course on Sunday. Along with a cake and his trophy, Easthom displayed several items he used during his competition.