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Alex Easthom pumped for the 2019 W.Va. Open

JAY W. BENNETT, The Marietta Times Ravenswood grad Alex Easthom watches a chip shot during a round of golf. The Red Devil graduate can’t wait to get on the course at the W.Va. Open Wednesday at the Parkersburg Country Club.

RAVENSWOOD — Suffice it to say, West Liberty University golfer and Ravenswood High School graduate Alex Easthom has come a long way since his humble beginnings as a youth in the Mid-Ohio Valley Junior Golf Association.

Now, Easthom is just a day away from competing in the 86th West Virginia Open, which will mark his second straight appearance in the event.

A four-time Class A state qualifier for the Red Devils, Easthom earned all-state status twice and helped lead RHS to a state title his senior year. He just missed out on medalist honors as a senior, finishing runner-up up to Madonna’s Howie Peterson, who is now his teammate with the Hilltoppers.

His first year at WLU definitely was one to remember. Not only did he earn a spot on the All-Atlantic Regional team, but he also was honored as the Mountain East Conference’s Freshman of the Year.

“This is probably the simplest gameplan I’ve ever taken into a tournament,” said the 2018 W.Va. Junior Amateur champion. “Drive it as far as I can, get the wedges out and make some putts.

“My driver is more dialed in than it’s ever been since my freshman year of high school. It’s been awhile.”

Evidence of that comes from the fact Easthom has been carrying his driver 318 yards. He also recently competed in a scramble at Tygarts Lake and won the long drive competition with a whack of 373 yards.

“It’s probably been a year or so,” Easthom said of when he played Parkersburg Country Club last. “I think I’m going to play with Adeena (Shears) to just get a little course knowledge.

“It plays pretty open because most of the trees, the low branches are pretty high. I’m going to try and use my length to my advantage. I’m going to try and hit wedges and stop them. I’m putting better than I’ve ever putted and hopefully I can make some putts in one of these tournaments.”

While driving accuracy always plays a key role for any golfer, Easthom is excited about the fact he in theory could hit driver on every hole aside from the five par 3s.

“There are 13 holes you could hit driver when I went through my head,” he said. “There’s one par 4, a dogleg left, I might try to hook one in there.”

Easthom qualified for the event at Riverside Golf Club in Mason, but expressed “to be honest, being at Riverside I’d played it a lot and knew it very well. I actually didn’t play good at all that day. I hit maybe four or five good shots.

“I hit a bunch of mediocre shots. I snapped one out of bounds, missed three three-footers and didn’t make a put outside of five feet. Other than that, it was beautiful. I knew through 11 or 12 holes I was going to qualify. I couldn’t hit it much worse.”

Being a dedicated student-athlete is something Easthom takes pride in. That’s quite evident considering he had grade point averages of 3.6 and 3.2 last year at West Liberty.

“It was great,” he said of his first year at college. “I had good grades. I wish my grades were a little higher. That was kind of new for me. In high school, you play a nine-hole match once or twice a week.

“In college, you’re gone for two or three days, homework piles up and you’re not in class one of those days and you miss notes. I played really good golf. Coach (Mike Ricci) wouldn’t like my gameplan this week. I feel like this course sets up for it.”

Easthom has a 12:20 p.m. tee time on Wednesday and will start on the first hole along with former Marshall University golfer Thomas Frazier and Jeremy Vallet.

“I was proud of how I stepped up in play at the big tournaments,” Easthom said of his freshman year. “I was playing pretty decent golf and was pretty good at times. I was proud of myself, but I wouldn’t say I was shocked.”

As far as waiting for Wednesday to finally get here?

“I am pumped. I can’t wait,” he said. “I love competition.”

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