Pat Carter

Pat Carter raises his fist after winning his 12th West Virginia State Amateur title Thursday.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — It’s an even dozen for Pat Carter at the West Virginia Amateur.

Carter built a five-shot lead midway through the final round and overcame an awful finish to beat college golfer Anthony Reale by two strokes Thursday at The Greenbrier resort.

“I’m glad it wasn’t a 73-hole tournament,” Carter said. “The wheels were coming off there. I was pretty much playing not to lose.”

Carter, who started the day tied with Reale at 2-over-par, shot 1-under 71 Thursday while Reale had a 73. Fairmont’s Jon Burnside shot a final-round 85 to finish with a four-day total of 313 (71-80-77-85).

“I sure am glad to be back in the winner’s circle. That may have been why my nerves were acting up a little bit, too,” Carter said. “It’s always nice to win. That’s what we’re all here trying to do. I just barely hung on, but it is a win.”

The Huntington golfer’s 12th state Amateur title puts him alone in second place all-time behind Bill Campbell’s 15. Ed Tutwiler Jr. won 11.

Carter’s winning score of 1-over 285 was the highest at the Amateur since he finished even par in 2000. He shot 3-over both in 1989, the year of his first win, and in 1998, when the tournament was played at the Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport.

Over the final two rounds, Carter wasn’t as dominating as Reale was disappointing.

Reale made several of the same mental mistakes and putting miscues Thursday that had cost him a seven-shot lead a day earlier.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” said Reale, who shot 3 under over the first two rounds and 6 over after that. “In the last two rounds I didn’t give it my best effort at all.”

Carter led for good after a birdie on the par-5 third hole. Reale made a pair of double bogeys on the front nine to fall behind by five.

“I lost by two and I had two double bogeys on the front nine. If I convert those to bogeys at the worst, it might be a whole new ballgame,” Reale said. “That’s how it goes.”

The 20-year-old Reale hooked his second shot on the par-5 fifth hole into thick brush. He punched out to the fairway, but his 70-yard wedge to the green left him 18 feet from the pin and he three putted.

On the par-3 seventh, Reale’s tee shot came up 50 yards short of the green. His next try wasn’t any better, stopping 35 feet from the pin. He three-putted again.

Carter birdied three of the first five holes on the back nine but made it interesting with an uncharacteristic finish.

He missed the fairway on the par-4 16th. His tee shot on the par-3 17th found the water, and he faced a 70-foot putt from the lower tier of the mammoth 18th green and three putted.

Despite Carter’s bogeys on the final three holes, Reale couldn’t find any magic down the stretch. The East Carolina University golfer became the latest in a long line to finish second to Carter.

Still, it was his best showing at the Amateur, eclipsing a ninth-place finish last year.

“I felt like I didn’t let Pat win it, but I feel like I didn’t give it my best, either,” Reale said.

Barboursville’s Nathan Kinker finished in third place at six over.

At 38, Carter is still the top amateur in the state. With continued good health he should bear down on Campbell’s record in the next several years.

In his 12 wins, Carter’s average margin was seven shots. Just two years ago Carter posted a 14-under total and won by 13 shots. That came before drastic changes were made to the Old White course.

“He’s got a lot of time to go way ahead if he keeps doing what he’s doing,” Campbell said Thursday.

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