Editors Note: Story by John McKelvey, The Norman Transcript with permission
NORMAN, OK (July 3, 2016) -- It's all the drama anyone could have hoped for, and at 1:10 p.m. Monday at Westwood Golf Course, it will all begin to unfold.
Current Oklahoma Sooner Brad Dalke is in a great position with back-to-back sub-65 rounds. In his first Westwood Invitational since he was 13, he's looked like a veteran on the course. He'll have to stave off two of the championship flight's biggest names to grab the trophy.
Former Sooner Kelsey Cline is one of those. He sits four strokes back after shooting 9-under-par 131 through two days. Unlike Dalke, he's been here before. A lot.
Cline has owned the championship flight for the last decade. He's won four times, in 2012, 2010, 2008 and 2006, and finished in the top three seven times since 2005. With a resume like that, it's obvious Cline's quite a bit older than Dalke as well — he's 38 — but nobody is counting him out.
“I love watching good golf and that's what I get every time I play with him,” Nate Champeau, one of his playing partners Saturday and Sunday, said. “It's a real treat. I feel like when I play with a guy like Kelsey it makes me play better.”
Cline will likely be riding with playing partner Austin Bowman, as he did last year when the two were chasing down JR Hurley on the final day. Bowman finished runner-up. Monday, he gets another chance. He'll have some ground to make up as he is tied for second with Cline after shooting a 7-under-par 63 Sunday.
Behind those three are Jett Johnson, JD Metzger and Heath Myers, who are all tied at 7-under-par 133. They're six shots back from Dalke, but if one of them has a round like Myers did Sunday, an 8-under-par 62, it will add some pressure.
As a collegiate golfer, Dalke understands that pressure. This is a little different, though. The Westwood Invitational is better known for its large amount of players and festive/cordial atmosphere than the championship flight trophy. Still, there is a level of competitiveness that emerges on the final day every year.
“It's just sticking with your gameplan that you've had the first couple of days, not trying to stray from that,” Dalke said. “That last round, if you get some bad things going, it's easy to get off your gameplan, start being more aggressive.”
Cline said it was “refreshing” to see a collegiate golfer in the tournament. It only adds to the level of competition. He also pretty familiar with Dalke, with the two playing a couple rounds together in the past.
“Whoever the best is in town, that's who I want to play with and try to beat,” Cline said. “I'm really glad he's playing. I've watched him grow up since he was about 11. He's bigger stronger and taller than we are now, but I'm really happy he's here and not surprised he's playing well.”
So will it be the newcomer taking home the title or will it be another day of triumph for the seasoned veteran? Will Bowman get redemption for last year? The stage is set and it should make for some great theater.
Tony Woods holds a narrow lead over the first two days after carding a 1-over-par 141.
Former Norman North golfer Keaton Divelbiss and Nate Champeau are right on his tail though, with each two shots back. Behind them Joe Crum, three strokes back, Greg England, four strokes back, and Nate Champeau, five back, should all still feel like they've got a shot. Former North golfer Earl Sherbon carded the low-round Sunday, carding a 2-under-par 68 after a rough start to the tournament Saturday.
Greg Riddles holds just a one stroke lead over 15-year-old Brodey Claborne, who shot a 1-over-par 71 on his birthday Sunday.
Riddles followed up Saturday's 2-over-par 72 with a 1-over-par 71 Sunday, but he'll have some competition for the top spot with five golfers within five strokes of his lead. One of those golfers is Norman Transcript Sports Editor Clay Horning, who shot a 2-over-par 72 Sunday. He's tied with Sean Marley, who shot a 1-under-par 69, Sunday's low-round in the flight, to total an 8-over-par 148 through two days. Chris Atteberry, 6-over-par 146, and Matt McCool, 7-over-par 147, are directly ahead of the duo.
Sean Simpson and Grant Schwabe are tied at 11-over-par 151 through two rounds.
There's some distance between them and the rest of the pack, with only Gary Jones, 14-over-par 154, within seven strokes. Schwabe had the low-round for the flight Sunday, shooting a 5-over-par 75. Simpson rocketed out to a 3-over-par 73 Saturday, but shot an 8-over-par 78 Sunday.
Chad Haynes is the only player in the flight to shoot a sub-80 round, and he has two.
His back-to-back 7-over-par 77s Saturday and Sunday have him 10 strokes ahead of the rest of the flight. Russell Cole is in second with a pair of 12-over-par 82s, and Mason Hadley had a 25-over-par 165 through two days.
In the only flight that is done by net scoring, a score affected by the handicap of each golfer, Gary Wright leads by three strokes.
Henry Drury and Ken Weatherford are tied for second behind him, with each owning a 10-under-par 130 through two days. Weatherford had the low round in the flight, shooting a 9-under-par 61. Ron Thomas and Frank Hewins are five strokes back from him.