The Norman Transcript

July 6, 2013

Wonders never cease at Westwood

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — It seems like it’s been a long time since the sports editor of this newspaper failed to embarrass himself at the Westwood Invitational. 

Also, it’s been my experience, horrific golf makes for strong self-indulgent writing much more than the good stuff. With that in mind, apologies may be in order.

An 85 surely would have made for a better story. Alas, I came in with a 72. 

Wonders never cease.

What’s available is yet more evidence of the twists and turns this crazy game can take. And not only to me.

In Championship Flight, Nick Bulla, who happens to be my cousin, made double bogey on the par 5 first hole, probably losing three strokes to most of his top flight peers. He was 4-under par the rest of the way and is in the middle of it, two strokes back of Austin Fuller.

In the Fourth Flight, former Norman North wrestling coach Jay Gibson, who does not want to read his name in the paper (sorry), who went off first thing in the morning so he could volunteer his time to the tournament the rest of the day, shot 43-51 for a 94 total. 

It may not seem like much, but it was the best round he’s ever had at the event and he plays every year.

You bet it’s a crazy game.

So crazy, I have no idea what’s in store for today’s second round, because I’m pretty sure I should have shot 69 Friday, yet I could just as easily come back with an 85 because I have no idea what’s going on with my swing and my last putt of the first round, a one-foot tap-in for birdie on No. 18, had me scared to death.

Did I mention it’s a crazy game?

Longtime readers of this column know well that for a long time I was The Worst Putter In The World. 

There was the day I hit 17 greens, made two birdie putts, and still shot 5-over par 75. 

There was the day, at the turn, I quit looking at the ball as I putted and looked at the hole instead.

There were many days, rather than watch my putter strike the ball, I closed my eyes and hoped to hear it fall into the cup.

I’m pretty sure I never putted a ball into a water hazard, but that would be the only infamous thing I failed to achieve over several years of suffering the real-life, blood-curdling, hard-for-playing-partners-to-watch-or-even-explain yips.

Well, the yips are gone, but I’m still waiting to be a good putter again, someday, or any day it actually matters.

It mattered Friday.

I wasn’t good but nor was I awful for 14 holes. There were no three-putts. I made two or three in the three-to-four foot range to complete two-putts, one eight-footer for par and one 15-footer birdie.

I had a three-footer for par at No. 15, a three-footer for birdie at No. 16 and a four-footer for par at No. 17 and missed them all.

On the 18th tee, so dazed, I couldn’t begin to feel my swing. Naturally, I block sliced my drive about 40 yards right, which just happened to leave me 120 yards from a reasonable lie staring at the final pin.

Told you it was a crazy game.

That’s the one the slope of the green set my approach just 12 inches from the cup, leaving me one more short putt, no longer able to feel my hands, I thought I might well miss.

This ridiculous game means so much more to me than it should. It’s a personality defect I can’t shake. It goes back to childhood and junior golf and the lengths I would go to just to raise the funds for one more green fee or entry fee.

It’s absurd, really. But everybody has a cross to bear. It doesn’t have to make sense.

Of course, posting a real number is meaningful and feels good. Also, it’s zero guidance toward what’s to come.

That’s golf.

It’s a crazy game.

Clay Horning

Follow me @clayhorning