University of Kentucky golfer Derek Oldham will attempt to win his second consecutive Men’s Invitational Golf Tournament this weekend at the Cynthiana Country Club.
Oldham, a senior-to-be in the coming school year, outlasted five-time winner Bart Lenox last year in the tournament by two strokes.
“The Cynthiana Country Club is a fun course to play,” said Oldham on Tuesday night. “I know Bart and Mike (Lenox) well and enjoy playing with them.”
Mike Lenox, an 11-time winner of the event, will not be playing this year. He is the current superintendent of grounds at the CCC and has the course in excellent condition.
“A lot of people have told me that our greens are as good as any they have seen this year,” said Lenox. “The Bermuda fairways are as lush as they have been all year and the rough is thick and can be penal. It’s been a struggle staying ahead of the grass with all the rain we’ve had, but our membership has really chipped in helped out in the last couple of weeks with some volunteer work on the golf course.”
Oldham has been playing regularly since school dismissed a month or so ago at UK, and is confident heading into the weekend.
“I’ve been playing better lately … my game is picking up a little bit, I guess,” he said.
Two weeks ago he finished 13th overall in the rain-shortened Kentucky State Amateur at Champion’s Trace Country Club, just outside of Lexington.
“I got a little unlucky at the State Amateur,” said Oldham. “I was three-under par on the round that was cancelled due to rain, but that score didn’t count.”
Bart Lenox is in the field again this year and will be seeking his sixth title. He last won in 2002, capping four straight years as the tournament champion. His other title was in 1995.
Last year, Lenox was in position to tie with an eagle on the last hole, but hit his second shot in the water to the left of the 18th fairway and finished second.
“I’ve been playing a little more this spring and have been playing pretty well, but the field is pretty strong,” said Lenox. “Whoever is putting well and avoids trouble will be in the hunt.”
Also in the Championship Flight will be former champions Kevin Letcher (2007), Joe Henson (2006) and Steve Houchen (2005, 1983, 1982, 1975).
Additional Championship Flight golfers will be local golfer Jason Works, who won the Stoner Creek Invitational two weeks ago, as well as Rus Whalen, a former HCHS and Centre College standout.
The tournament will feature 36 holes of stroke play, beginning on Saturday and concluding on Sunday. As of Tuesday night, nearly 70 golfers have registered to play in the tournament, with several more expected to join the field by the weekend. The tournament will be limited to the first 96 paid entrants.