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by John G. Miller
(June 3)Area golf fans will have a rare treat next week when the West Virginia Amateur is played at the Pete Dye Golf Club -- they'll get to see some of the
state's best golfers and enjoy the magnificent (and very exclusive) Pete Dye golf retreat.
Bill Stines, Director of Golf at Pete Dye, said the club welcomes all visitors starting Monday for the four-day event.
"We're excited to have the State Amateur and to have the opportunity for the many golf fans in our region to see great golf," Stines said.
This year's record field includes 90 of the top golfers across the state. Three-time defending champion Pat Carter heads the talented field that also includes five-time champion Harold Payne and two-time champ Steve Fox.
"There's some great players in the field," Stines said.
"Pat Carter is a tremendous amateur -- not only in West Virginia but on the national level," Stines said.
"And he's not the only one. There are a lot of others out there and I think fans of the game will enjoy getting a chance to see them."
The field expanded to 90 from 78 in part because of the move to the Pete Dye Club, according to West Virginia Golf Association Executive Director Danny Fisher.
"The field has always been 78 because that was a number that the golf association and The Greenbrier could agree on," Fisher said.
"But with the move, we're able to accommodate more.
"There's always been a concern that 78 was leaving out some good golfers who deserved a chance to experience the State Amateur," Fisher said. "At Pete Dye, we're able to accomplish that."
Stines and Fisher said they expect a good fan turnout, especially since the field includes 16 area golfers.
"I think golfers will want to come out and see some of the guys they know ... see how they stack up against the rest of the field," Stines said.
"Excitement seems to be growing in that area," Fisher said.
"And when we've held U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open qualifiers up there in the past, there always seemed to be a good turnout," he said.
Area players in the field: John Rappold of Clarksburg, John Markovich and Todd Trickett of Bridgeport, Larry Spotloe of Philippi, Alan Stealey of West Milford, Dewey Delovich of Monongah, Eddie Koski and Dave Metheny of Fairmont.
Also, Chad Westfall of Glenville and Paul Croston, Jack Forbes, Larry Kalaskey III, Mike Marrara, Mike Gocke, Robert Stoll and Steve VanHorn of Morgantown.
Stines said golfers can expect to face a challenging course that's in great shape.
"The course is in the best shape it's ever been in," Stines said.
Golfers will arrive on Sunday for practice rounds before Monday's opening round.
The first tee time will be at 8:30 a.m.
After the first two days, the field is cut to the top 30, plus ties, usually leaving around 36 golfers in the chase for the championship.