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Leaders change on day two

by Anthony Hanshew

SPORTS EDITOR

BRIDGEPORT -- Monday's West Virginia Open opening round was entertaining, but primarily prologue.

On Tuesday, things really heated up at Pete Dye Golf Club.

First Chad Westfall dismissed any notion of youthful collapse when the recent Gilmer County High School graduate followed his 72 with a 71. Following a rain delay lasting more than 90 minutes, the clubhouse really started buzzing.

"(John) Ross just birdied 12 and 13. (Brad) Westfall is 5-under for the day on the front nine. (Brent) Johnson is 2-under through seven and has an eagle putt on No. 8. (Pat) Carter is 5-under for the day."

When the smoke cleared and players completed Tuesday's final rounds in the dark, a sturdy leaderboard showed the promise for today's final round.

Brad Westfall, who blistered the back nine at a 5-under pace, finished with a 67 and owns a one-shot lead at 4-under 140. Trailing Westfall, the head professional at The Pines in Morgantown, by one are Barry Evans and first-round co-leader Johnson. Carter, the six-time West Virginia Amateur champion, is two shots back.

It was a roller coaster for Westfall, who on Monday signed an incorrect scorecard that read 73 instead of his actual 72 score. Costing himself a shot weighed on Westfall until a conversation with his wife turned the tide.

"I was really (ticked) off, but my wife said, 'It's over, forget it and move on.' And I did. For the first round in a really long time I was focused," said Westfall, a two-time Open champion.

His focus was evident early. Westfall went on a birdie barrage on the back nine that could have dipped even further into the red. He barely missed a few other birdie putts, including one that rolled to the front edge and suddenly stopped at No. 18.

Westfall said the near-misses didn't bother him, considering he felt lucky to make pars at Nos. 6-8.

"I put myself in the position that I wanted -- close to the lead," Westfall said. "That's all I was trying to do and I really had it going."

In a less dramatic, more consistent manner, Evans did the same. The Berry Hills head professional followed Monday's 69 with an even-par 72.

To say the least, Evans welcomes the challenge provided by Westfall.

"I love playing with Brad Westfall," Evans beamed after today's pairings were announced. "We always have a little side-wager going, and he's a tremendous player. He can always make a lot of birdies."

Evans, like Westfall, knows West Virginia Open success. He has finished in the top 10 in nine of the last 11 Opens.

Carter, who won the 1998 State Amateur at Pete Dye, will be in the second-to-last pairing with Chad Westfall, bound for High Point University (N.C.) in the fall on a golf scholarship. Carter said he likes where he stands, but realizes leapfrogging Brad Westfall will be tough.

"I heard good things about Brad all day, that he was really burning it up," said Carter, who has won the past five West Virginia Amateurs.

Today's final pairing should tee off at approximately 11:30 a.m. The public is welcome to attend.

Sports editor Anthony Hanshew can be reached at 626-1444.

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