By Duane Cochran
Times West Virginian
It’s been a long time since the annual Green Hills-Homer Delovich Memorial Golf Championship has had a repeat winner in consecutive years.
It won’t happen this year either. Portsmouth, Ohio’s Harold Wallace, who sank a two-and-a-half foot birdie putt on the 18th green to record a one-stroke victory over Uniontown, Pa.’s Jeremy Enslen in the 2012 tournament, has opted not to return this summer to Green Hills Country Club to defend his title.
Thus, Sunday, for the eighth consecutive year, a new champion will be crowned in the two-day, 36-hole event which will feature a full field of 144 golfers.
Wallace’s absence opens the door for individuals like Enslen, Dewey Delovich, George White Jr., Rush Janes, Jeff Nehls and Ryan Moore, who have all been very much in the running for the title in recent years but haven’t claimed it yet.
Enslen, who fired a final-round 65 last year to finish second with a two-day, two-under par 138 and had a fifth-place showing in 2011, comes into the tourney fresh off of a win in the County Open at Mountaineer Golf Course last weekend in Morgantown. That victory ended a streak of three consecutive runner-up finishes in that event for 31-year-old.
“I like the Green Hills Open, and I think the course sets up pretty well for me because I can work the ball both ways which is something you need to do there, especially on the back nine,” said Enslen. “You need to be able to work it left to right on holes like 11, 13, 16 and 18, and I’m pretty comfortable doing that.
“One of the things I really like about that tournament is they always have a big field and there’s always some good competition there. Coming off of the County Open I have some high expectations for myself. As long as I putt well I feel like I have the potential to be right there come Sunday afternoon.”
Enslen runs his own lawn care business which presents a challenge for him to find time to get out and play during the week days.
“I really haven’t played as much this year as I have in years past, but I have been practicing hitting balls and putting,” he said. “I really don’t think that’s going to hurt me too much.
“I think I’m ready. I’m looking forward to it, and I just hope come Sunday when the back nine rolls around I’ve done enough to put myself in position to compete for the win.”
This year’s field also includes a host of former champions including three-time winner John Kingora, 2011 champion Tyler Hartzell and multi-time winner Bill Capelety.
Severe thunderstorms moved through the Fairmont area early Thursday morning and dropped several inches of rain on the golf course. Green Hills officials, however, say the course weathered the storm well and will be ready to go Saturday and Sunday.
Temperatures for the weekend are predicted to be in the high 70s or low 80s both days with a 40 percent chance of scattered showers Sunday.
The annual two-day tournament on the par-70 course will be flighted after Saturday’s opening round.