Ravenswood grad Alex Easthom enjoying golf success
RAVENSWOOD — Alex Easthom’s golf game is a continual work in progress, but current results point to pretty solid form.
A week ago Friday, a sand save for par at No. 18 on the Old White TPC sealed his four-round total of 4-under 276, which allowed him to hoist the Greenbrier Trophy as the victor of the 101st West Virginia Amateur at The Greenbrier Resort.
Not only was Easthom the only player in the field to shoot even par or better in all four rounds, but he became just the eighth golfer in Mountain State history to win both the Am and the state Junior Am.
“I felt pretty good. I had played well other than the last round I played in the Pittsburgh Open,” Easthom said.
Following an opening round 65 at the South Hill Country Club, the West Liberty University golfer was 6-under and in the lead, but shot an 80 on the second day in the final round to finish in a three-way tie for eighth.
Working with Warren Root at Greenhills Country Club, Easthom said his practice sessions were quite positive entering the first round of play on the Meadows Course.
“I was feeling really good and I wanted to win so bad,” he recalled prior to his first tee shot at the 101st championship. “I started steering shots early and that’s where bogey, bogey, bogey (start) came. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong until I sat down and thought about it.
“I hit every shot in the center of the club face and didn’t hit a good shot and I was like I’m steering it. (On hole four) a par 5 it’s short and tight out of bounds right and creek on the right. I was going to hit 5-wood, but I wanted something in my hands I could swing at so I hit driver and hit it down the middle and it kind of flipped the momentum of the tournament for me.”
Following that birdie to get to back to 2-over par, the ex-Ravenswood standout carded three more to finish with a 1-under par 69.
He proceeded to go 29 consecutive holes without making a bogey.
Easthom pointed to a tournament earlier this summer in Kentucky where in the last round “I was like 3 or 4 over and I ended up birdieing five of my last seven and shooting 1-under. I learned to get over par early and fight back.
“I played in the (W.Va.) Open and made some big mental areas and the Pittsburgh Open I had a big lead and threw it away. That taught me how to play with a lead and helped me pull off the Am.”
When asked about the last time he had a stretch of golf in a tournament like he had at the Am he recalled “I think my best might’ve been 24 in 2018 in the Junior Am.
“Other than the Am this year, I can’t think where I’ve gone more than 29 holes without a bogey. That’s a pretty good stretch on some good golf courses.”
The Hilltopper, who has three years of eligibility left but is set to graduate next spring with his degree in sports management, wore WLU shirts on three days and a Greenhills shirt on the other.
“After this year I’m probably transferring if I stay in college,” admitted Easthom, who said he might stick around and get his master’s degree.
Currently, he’s preparing for this week’s Clovernook Open, which is a two-day tournament like the one in Pittsburgh that features both amateurs and pros.
“Thadd Obecny talked me into it,” Easthom said of going to the tournament in Cincinnati. “He’s my new head coach at West Liberty.
“He’s been trying to get me to play before the Am. After I won, he’s like come on man, come play and I was like I’ll play.”
In less than 10 days it will be back to school time for Easthom, who noted the first golf matches at college can’t start until October.
Looking back at his first W.Va. Am title at the Greenbrier, his eagle on No. 10 during the final round was obviously quite the boost.
“I hit 5-wood,” Easthom said of the short par 4 that was playing 293 yards. “The only thing I could see was the very top of the pin. They had all those camera guys up there and they started clapping. I thought front edge of the green and I got 40-50 feet.”
Once he finally got up toward the green he was like “there’s a ball laying 4 feet from the hole and it took me a few seconds to realize it was mine. It was one of them ‘oh, shoot that was me’ and that’s why they were all going nuts. I thought I just got on the green.”
Actual golfing aside, one of the most enjoyable parts of his four days was playing two rounds with 13-time W.Va. Am champion Pat Carter of Huntington.
“I’m not very brash, you know me,” Easthom quipped. “I started talking from the first tee box, how great it was to meet him and play with him. It sounded like I was there to watch. I have a pretty good ability to kind of flip the switch when I need to.
“I can joke around for you for 15, 16 holes and go quiet the last couple and lock in. It’s something I’ve always been able to do. I definitely chatted with him both rounds all day. I picked his brain and asked him what he did when he practices. He’s such a nice guy and had no problems talking to me. Definitely had a lot of conversation.”
Even though he won the tournament, Easthom added “if you think about it, don’t get me wrong I played good all week, but I didn’t have a 65 or 66 like some of those guys. I didn’t have a lights out round where everything clicked.
“When I started working with Warren the goal was to win the state Am and anything else was a bonus. It’s hard to explain, three or four months working toward a goal and to achieve it, especially after the start I had. It could’ve went somewhere else quick. I think that’s going to do a lot with my mental maturity of the game.”
Having a plethora of options down the road for both school, which includes possibly going after a degree in agronomy, and golf, Easthom is just taking things a day at a time.
“There are definitely plans to down the line,” Easthom said of turning pro. “I might as well give it a try at some point. Definitely, but not immediately. If I don’t make it at least I tried.”
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org