WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - Philip Reale watched greatness live and up close. One problem, it wasn't the native from Glenville turning in the stellar round of golf.
During Thursday's third round of the 95th annual West Virginia Amateur Championship played at the The Greenbrier's Meadows Course, Reale played in the same threesome as Marshall University senior Brian Anania who was one of three golfers on the day to card a 3-under par 67. Anania, who was tied for 12th after the first round, seized a two-stroke lead with today's final round remaining by producing three birdies with no bogeys.
Alone in second place is first-round leader Bridgeport's Woody Woodward (67-75-71-213) followed by Pineville's Evan Muscari (72-73-69-214).
Anania turned in a pair of 72s to start the tournament and owns a three-day total of 1-over 211. He tied for second at last year's West Virginia Am at 1-over, six shots behind defending champion Sam O'Dell of Hurricane. Anania is looking for his fourth straight top 10 finish and fifth overall.
"Brian hit it phenomenal," said Reale, who slipped from fifth place to a two-way tie for 12th place after shooting a 74. "He was never at risk. I don't think he ever sniffed at a bogey.
"For me, it was fun to watch a good player and I wouldn't expect anything less from him (Friday). If he plays like he did today, he could run away with it in the final round."
Several areas golfers are in contention to place in the top 15 and automatically qualify for next year's West Virginia Am. Reale is one of those individuals at 8-over 218, along with Mason's Trent Roush at 9-over 219.
Reale, who lives in South Charleston, birdied two of his first four holes and was sitting at 3-over par. The last three holes, however, left a bitter taste in his mouth after he double bogeyed the 16th hole and closed out Nos. 17 and 18 with consecutive bogeys.
"A couple of bad swings cost me three shots," Reale said. "It was the same story as the other day, but it was magnified today. My swing feels fine - I just pulled a couple shots."
Reale feels a top 5 finish is not out of the realm of possibilities, but the field standing in his way are no lightweights. At the very least, he would like to secure a top 15 finish and not have to enter a West Virginia Am qualifier next year.
"That's always nice when I don't have to take an extra day off from work to qualify," Reale said. "I just have to go out and shoot the best round I can and let the chips fall where they may."
Roush recorded two of his three birdies on the front nine and finished with a 71 to improve his status from 21st place to 14th place.
Rounding out the local contingent were Mason's Mitch Roush (76-75-73-224), Parkersburg South junior Alex Schreckengost (75-78-74-227), Williamstown's Austin Root (72-78-82-232) and Elizabeth's Matt Moore (74-77-86-237).