Published July 19. 2013 4:00AM
The most important item in any Norwich Invitational competitor's golf bag this weekend technically won't help shave off any strokes.
It isn't a lucky putter or trusty 7-iron.
It's a water bottle.
Make that several water bottles.
Golfers will need to stay properly hydrated while battling the oppressive heat and humidity at Norwich Golf Course.
Temperatures are expected to climb into the 90s for today's qualifying round.
"It's going to be a tough one," said Norwich teaching pro Jeff Doerr. "We just have to make sure the coolers are well-stocked and caution the players to stay well-hydrated.
"They have to drink four to six ounces per hole to stay hydrated under normal circumstances. In all honesty, there could be an attrition rate regardless of skill and handicap."
About 155 golfers will tee off and fight the oppressive heat as well as a challenging field in the 87th Norwich Invite. Kevin Marcoux of Danielson returns to defend his title.
The good news: The weather is expected to improve over the next couple of days.
That's little consolation for golfers teeing off today. Those players starting early in the morning should have a slight advantage.
The chase for the title really heats up on Saturday with two rounds of match play. Survivors will play in the semifinals on Sunday morning, followed by the finals starting around noon.
It is a grueling weekend of golf, requiring the two finalists to play five rounds in 72 hours.
Golfers to watch include 2008 champion Bret Siekierski. He's reached the final three out of the last five years, losing 1-up to Marcoux in 2012.
Dave Jones of Norwich has some nice momentum from an impressive fourth-place showing in the Connecticut Senior Open earlier this week at Shennecossett Golf Course.
"This is the peak of the (golf) season," Jones said. "I hope to do well."
Any of Jones' playing partners - Phil Perry, Bill Hermanson and Brian Bardier - in today's qualifying round could claim the championship.
Jones and Bardier, who won the Norwich Invite in 2010 and 2007, respectively, combined to win the Connecticut State Golf Association Two-Man Championship in May at Black Hall Club in Old Lyme, and also captured the Bartholomew Four-Ball at Pequabuck Golf Club in Terryville for the third time.
After battling a nagging back problem in recent years, Bardier is feeling good, according to Jones.
"He's feeling strong," Jones said. "He's taking some time off this week and he's resting his back. He'll be ready."
Maybe this will be the year that Chris DeLucia, who recently won his record seventh straight Norwich men's club championship, will finally win the title.
Both DeLucia and Jones reached the semifinals last year.
DeLucia is Jones' pick to win the championship flight.
"I played with Chris already earlier this year and he's playing great," Jones said. "He is the favorite."
"But it's very difficult. It's tough to pick a winner, because you have to have a little bit of luck involved in your draw and you know you're going to have one match that you're not going to play that great.
"You just hope you can just sneak by that one match."
• Three former Waterford High School golf teammates are spending some time together this week.
Jones, Tony Susi and Dan Hendrickson, who helped the Lancers win the 1980 state championship, competed in the Connecticut Senior Open.
They also are in the Norwich Invite field, with Susi and Hendrickson in the same group today.
Other members of that mighty Waterford High team included Jeff and Chris Hedden.
• For the second straight year, Jones is racking up his share of tournament victories. He won CSGA one day events at Oak Lane Country Club in Woodbridge and Twin Hills Country Club in Coventry. He also won the Willimantic Open, scoring a hole-in-one on the 10th hole.
• Nick Torrance of Lake of Isles rode a sizzling finish to tie for 12th at the 84th New England Amateur Championship at Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington, Vt.
Torrance fired a 3-under 68 in Thursday's final round to lower his overall total to 3-over 216 (76-72-68). He birdied four of the first five holes and finished with six birdies, three bogeys and nine pars.
Evan Russell of the Country Club of Vermont won the championship with a 5-under 208.
• The foursome of Jane Shea of Mystic, Jan Welch of Salem, Charlotte Genga of Glastonbury and Patty Walsh of Old Lyme combined to place first in the Fox Hopyard Ladies League event on Tuesday.
• Two golfers recently each recorded a hole-in-one on the same day at River Ridge Golf Course in Griswold. Carl Johnson had his ace on the 117-yard sixth hole, while Dave McMahon aced the 115-yard 11th hole.
• The Norwich Junior Club Championship will tee off July 27-28.
• The Pequot men's club championship competition begins July 27 and culminates with the championship round on Aug. 4. The 18-hole junior club event will be Wednesday.
• Elmridge Golf Course men's club championship match play begins this weekend. The championship round will tee off Sunday, July 28. Anthony Kargul is the defending champ.
• The 79th Connecticut Open begins July 29 at Torrington Country Club. Phil Perry of Black Hall, Keith Anthony of Fox Hopyard and Richard Wilczewski of Shennecossett are local qualifiers.