By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Austen Fuller heard about the Westwood Invitational sponsored by OklahomaTickets.com and knew he wanted to play. The former Oklahoma player is transferring to Oklahoma City University, where coach Kyle Blaser encourages his players to play in as many tournaments as possible during the summer.
That made the decision an easy one for Fuller, a junior who jumped at the chance to play in the 38th annual three-day tournament. He even convinced his close friend and OU junior Michael Gellerman to join him.
“He’s a good friend of mine and we live together, so I just told him ‘hey, let’s play in this tournament,’ and he said okay,” Fuller said. “We got to be in the same group together, and it was really fun.”
It was especially fun for Fuller, who leads the championship flight after shooting a 66 on Friday. He has a two-stroke lead on the rest of the field. Five other competitors — Brandon Blevins, Nick Bulla, Joel Driver, Jeff Johnson and defending champ Kelsey Cline — shot a 68 on Friday.
But for Fuller and Gellerman, what was more important than the final numbers was just getting the chance to relax together on the course.
“He’s one of my best friends, so it was relaxing,” Fuller said. “Usually it’s more pressure for some people, but it kind of took some pressure off for me. We just played it like we would a normal round.”
Gellerman accepted Fuller’s invitation to join the tournament on a whim, and despite carding a 71 on Friday, a score he described as “not his best,” he said he’s glad he joined.
“It was mostly just for fun,” he said. “When you can play with one of your good friends that’s always good. It’s a relaxing course and it was fun.”
It was fun for the pair of former teammates, but that doesn’t mean the competitive aspect is forgotten. While Fuller approached the Invitational to have a good time, he’s also playing to win. He will enter today with a two-stroke lead on a field bunched up two shots behind him, and said if he can continue to hit his irons as well as he did on Friday he has a shot to win.
“That’s usually the strongest part of my game, and it was working today,” said Fuller, who finished with five birdies and just one bogey on Friday. “I’ve got to go out and keep hitting good shots and make some putts.”
While Fuller led the way in the top flight, Tony Woods led the Masters flight with a 68, while John Reese sat a stroke back and Bill McConnell was in third with a 71. Jeff Penny led the first flight with a 70, while Sean Marley carded a 71 and three players sat at 72.
Matt McCool leads the second flight with a 75, while Miles Pabst is at 76 and Jeremy Willoughby is three behind after shooting a 78 on Friday. In the third flight, Chris Atteberry and Bryan Nelson share the lead at 77 while Bob Dick and David Hansel sit two shots back at 79. In the fourth and final flight, the only one to use a handicap, Joe Pimpin leads the way with a 63, while Jay Gibson is in second with a 65.
The second round of the 54-hole tournament tees off at 7 a.m. today at Westwood.
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