By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Westwood Invitational ended Sunday the way it began on Friday — with teammates Michael Gellerman and Austen Fuller playing together down the stretch.
And, for the roommates and former teammates at Oklahoma who entered Sunday tied for the lead, it was a near-perfect finish. Gellerman shot a 67 to finish with 201 strokes for the tournament, while Fuller carded a 68 to complete the 1-2 finish.
“It was fun to do that down the stretch with a friend,” Gellerman said. “We had a lot of fun, and it always feels good to win.”
The pair are close friends off the course and aren’t rivals on it, either. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t competitive down the stretch. Fuller took the lead early but Gellerman retook it on the twelfth hole. He eventually stretched his lead to two shots, but Fuller fought back to pull within one before the pair played even on the course’s final five holes, including the 18th, where both bogeyed to end the tournament.
“It was fun dueling it out with him,” Gellerman said. “We’re still best friends, but I still felt pressure coming down the stretch. We both wanted to win, but we were both going to be happy no matter what happened.”
Fuller, who was the one to convince Gellerman to even join the tournament, agreed.
“I liked the competition, and him being out here made it a lot of fun,” he said. “It feels pretty good for us to finish first and second. We just tried to have fun out there, and we did. He’s a good friend of mine, and it was fun to go out there and play and feel the pressure.”
In the final group, the pair also fended off defending champion Kelsey Cline, who fell behind early and finished five strokes back after firing a 271. Jeff Johnson finished fourth in the tournament after a 72 on Sunday.
In the Masters flight, Steve Hixon held on to win by shooting a 71 to finish with 211 strokes, narrowly holding off second-place finisher Tony Woods, who shot a 70 to finish with 212. John Reese took third with a score of 217.
While Jeff Penny ran away with the first flight, Bill Ward surged with a final-round 74 to tie Alex McAllister for second at 220. Matt McCool won the second flight with a 77 on his way to 226, with Miles Pabst finishing 10 shots back and in second place.
In the third flight, Chris Atteberry entered Sunday with a big lead and easily coasted to victory after shooting 78 to finish with 230. Miles Markus shot an 80 to finish with 240 hold off Greg Neal, who ended in third and a shot back. Fourth place went to 12-year-old competitor Christian McAllister, who carded an 83 on the final day to finish at 242.
In the final flight, the only one to make use of the handicap, Jason Weingartner shot a 66 to finish with a 201 to win, holding off second-place finisher Joe Pempin, who finished with 202 after carding a 71 on Sunday.
Master class: Steve Hixon is one of those golfers the Westwood Invitational has been built around. He hasn’t played in them all because he was a toddler when the tourney first began in 1976.
Sunday, firing a 71 for a 3-over par 203 total, he claimed Masters Flight by a stroke over Tony Woods, who came down from Owasso to play the tourney.
Hixon really wanted to win his flight last year, because it was his first time to play the event after the passing of his father, whose name is also Steve Hixon.
“He always came out and watched me play,” Hixon said.
Still, winning for his father a year later was no less emotional a feat for Hixon.
“I won it and I’m happy about it, but I still wanted my dad there,” he said. “I really wanted to win for my dad.”
Hixon’s mother would also follow him around the golf course in his youth. She was at the course Sunday to share in the victory.
Scoring madness: Two players in the field turned in a feat maybe more impressive than victory.
Mike Walden, in First Flight, finished a round in the 60s, 70s and 80s, shooting 77-67-82 for a 226 finish.
Justin Schaefer, also in First Flight, did the same thing, sort of, carding rounds in the 70s, 80s and 90s, shooting 76-80-90 for a three-round total of 246.
In Third Flight, Mark Wells did something nobody else in the field accomplished, carding the same score in every round: 80-80-80.
The youngster places: 12-heard old Christian McAllister, the youngest player in the field, followed rounds of 83 and 76 with another 83 on Sunday to place fourth, with a 242 total, in Third Flight.
Westwood Invitational Scores
Nick Bulla68- 75-70-213