By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It’s that time again.
The Westwood Invitational begins another three-day and 54-hole run Friday, when it will once again lay claim to being the state’s largest stroke play tournament.
They’ve been putting it on for 38 years at Norman’s lone municipal golf course and, for all the work and lack of sleep it entails, the host does not tire of the effort to keep it going.
“I’m excited about it,” longtime Westwood head pro David Lisle said. “I’m always excited about it, and thankful for it, too … I got up this morning excited. It’s right around the corner.”
It’s right around the corner, yet it’s not too late to enter. Also, every additional entry should help the tourney to exceed last year’s player total of 131.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the tally was already 130 with more than two full days remaining to sign up and play.
One thing that might get more players out is the weather. In the past, extreme heat has chased some players off the course, but that shouldn’t be a problem this time around, with temperatures not expected to get much higher than 90 degrees.
A year ago, high temperatures were between 95 and 100 over the course of the event.
Of course, there’s the competition, too.
“This is quote from U.C. Ferguson, and I’ve never forgotten it,” Lisle said. “’This is their U.S. Open.’”
Ferguson was the legendary longtime head pro at Oklahoma City’s Lincoln Park Golf Course, where Lisle was a young assistant pro in the mid-1980s.
Ferguson was talking about club championships. Of course, the Westwood Invitational is much bigger than any club championship. This year, the Championship Flight may be as strong as ever.
Four-time champion Kelsey Cline is signed up to defend his 2012 crown. Though Cline’s won it four times, he’s never defended his crown. Prior to 2012, he was also the 2006, 2008 and 2010 champion.
To defend, Cline, a former Sooner golfer, will have to get past a pair of current Sooners in Michael Gellerman and Austin Fuller.
Some may remember Gellerman’s performance at the 2012 NCAA Central Regional, when, as a freshman, he placed fifth individually after rounds of 77-67-71 at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.