Father-son combo qualify for W.Va. Open

WAVERLY -Austin Root sensed his father was on his heels, so the only solution he knew was put his golf game into another gear.

At one of five qualifiers being held in the state of West Virginia, Root took medalist honors during Friday’s round at the Golf Club of West Virginia after carding a 2-under par 69.

Root, who just completed his freshman season at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky., was one of 14 golfers who earned a berth for the West Virginia Open scheduled for June 17-21 at Parkersburg Country Club in Vienna.

The former Williamstown standout birdied three of his final six holes. His father, Warren Root, also qualified after shooting a 71.

“I heard my dad was under par so I had to step up my game,” Root said. “I just tried to play solid golf and not make too many dumb mistakes.”

The putter was working its magic for Warren Root, who flirted with red numbers until he made consecutive bogeys on holes three and four.

“I got a little tight when I was under par,” Warren Root said. “I tried not to make mistakes and made two in a row.”

Whether the tournament committee pairs father and son together, that won’t be determined for at least another week. Regardless, Warren Root is excited about making his debut at the West Virginia Open.

“This is huge for me,” he said. “I quit playing competitive golf to raise the kids and actually quit playing completely for a few years. When Austin started playing the Top Flite Junior Tour, I got back into it.

“This year when I found out the West Virginia Open was at Parkersburg Country Club, this was the year I really pushed for it.”

Local golfers also punching their ticket for the West Virginia Open were Spencer’s Cam Moore (70), Parkersburg’s Josh Goodnight (71), Vienna’s Chris Barlament (72), Washington’s Steve Hussey (72), Parkersburg’s Thad Tofaute (73) and Parkersburg’s Vincent Guice (74).

Moore, who just completed his freshman year as part of the state championship team at Roane County High School, will be one of the youngest golfers in the field of 120.

“I guess I’ll just go in there and try to beat the course,” said Moore, who also is making his debut at the West Virginia Open. “I can’t try to beat everybody else. I just need to do my best.”

At the Golf Club of West Virginia, six golfers finished at 74 and tied for the final qualifying spot. Four individuals were eliminated after the first playoff hole, leaving Guice and Parkersburg’s Austin Davis to battle it out for another four holes on the 145-yard, par 3 at No. 18.

On the final attempt, Guice sent his drive left of the green and above the hole, but managed to get up and down for par. Davis missed a short putt for par and had to settle for the first alternate spot.

“I kept leaving my putts above the hole in the playoff and you can’t do that on this hole,” said Guice, who now has an excuse to practice his golf game for the upcoming family trip to Hilton Head, S.C. “This is actually the first time I have ever played competitively in my life.

“It’s a pretty good feeling to qualify. Now maybe my wife will know I’m not out there just messing around and that I’m not bad at this game.”