WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va - It took Hurricane's Sam O'Dell 19 tries, a couple missed cuts and a handful of top 10 finishes to earn the reaction he had on the No. 18 hole at the Old White TPC on Thursday.
O'Dell tossed his club, smiled widely and put his arms up to welcome caddy and best friend John Duty Jr. to a hug after winning the 94th State Amateur.
"It means everything," said O'Dell, who was emotional during the awards ceremony. "I thought I pretty much won it (Wednesday). I didn't do as badly as I could've today."
His final round wasn't a thing of beauty with a 6-over 70. In fact, the result was a six-stroke lead over Fairmont's Woody Woodward and Hurricane's Brian Anania.
"That was part of it," said O'Dell, who has nine top-10 finishes and only one missed cut in the Amateur when it was played at the Greenbrier. "The greens were slower today. A lot slower than they were Monday. As long as I stay aggressive, you can make everything."
However, O'Dell thought a 6-foot par-saving putt on No. 11 sealed the deal.
"The putt on 11 was big," he said. "Right up the hill. I felt like I hit a couple putts decent but the speed wasn't right. I knew this one did and I made it. Honestly, I thought it was mine when I made that putt."
On the next hole the rain began, slowing the greens more than they were and ultimately making O'Dell's job even easier.
"That was just when I was getting my feel a little bit," said O'Dell, who was five over at the time. "You have to look at that as, the setup was going to be harder. When the rain started, it's brutal for anyone to make a birdie. That's all in my favor. That's great. Somebody would've had to do something special."
The dentist led every round of the championship, days that included texts and phone conversations with 13-time winner Pat Carter, who couldn't play in the Amateur because he was in Warner Robins, Ga., watching 13-year-old son Hogan play in the Little League Southeast Regional.
The most important, yet brief, call from O'Dell's patient came Thursday morning.
"He told me, 'Build off those three rounds, it's nothing. You'll be more nervous than you were the first three days. That's Norman. You're good,'" O'Dell said. "That's all I needed and we hung up."