68. Struggled with the wedges and getting close to the hole. Lost by
6. 66-63 was low. On the road now.
I drove the ball perfectly. 12/13 fairways, making birdie on my only missed fairway. I had a lot of chances, but it was a day of burned edges. One bad iron shot caused a bogey on a par 3. I had two other bogies from divots in the fairway. I hit plenty of good putts, which made it all the more frustrating when none of them went in. I made all of the putts I "should" have (inside 6 feet), but I couldn't get anything else in the hole.
I zoned in with a little swing thought all day, and if it keeps up I might be able to go really low tomorrow. There were a lot of good scores, so I need another good one. I am extremely confident in my game, and I am very much looking forward to tomorrow.
The match with Mediaguru and Eatgolf might have to be postponed due to rain. If it is, we'll make it happen sometime in the future.
I really hope to win this tournament, but we all know it is just a tune-up for the real match with Eatgolf and Mediaguru on Tuesday...nah, I want to win this one more. Tuesday should be fun with a trophy in tow.
I played pretty good today in the little skins game. I couldn't get a putt to go in the first 14 holes, but I made a couple coming in to shoot 67. Bermuda greens can be tough for a guy from the "north," so it's good I got here early. A tip for playing bermuda without much grain: Play less break.
I ended up winning $55 today. Not bad in a $20 skins game with only 10 guys (I took $75 of the $200 pot). I played with some good guys, but the other group seemed kinda pissed that I took the money. I offered to buy them some drinks, but they just took off.
I took a rest, then went back to the course at 3:30 to play a few with my pro-am partner, Skip. We played about 18 holes in about an hour and a half (granted, we had to play a few holes over, and over, and over. Why do people play so slow?). I'm shaking off the rust little by little, so I should be in good shape when the tourney starts Sunday.
I always hate it when a golf course goes under. Any golf course. My dad won a tournament in Laughlin a few years back. He was about to go into a playoff with Jonathan Kaye (now a winner on the PGA Tour) when Kaye got DQ'd. The course he played was completely abandoned when I drove by it today. Greens were overgrown, and it was completely brown. It was eerie, like losing part of the past.
Round 1 away from the snow went pretty good. I drove the ball very good, hit some solid irons, and felt good with the putter. Pretty good, eh. I need to work on my alignment with my iron shots and I will be set.
Tomorrow I get to play in a skins game with the locals. I don't know any of them (unless my pro-am teammates decide to show), but it should be fun.
Once again, the snow in Salt Lake has brought upon me an early departure. I just arrived in Needles, CA. I plan on playing at the River's Edge GC the next three days to prepare for the tournament on Saturday. This is a smaller sort of pro-am, but that's about all you can expect this time of year. It is a very fun tournament where you get to meet some great people and get out of the tundra. I might be a bit rusty, but this extra practice should give me a chance to win. I stopped in Mesquite, NV, and I was really hitting it good (a good surprise after a couple weeks on the mats).
I'll give a report on the state of my game when I figure that out. Right now it seems to be good, but things that are not apparent on the range tend to crop up when you play a real round. I'll let you know.
On a side note, it looks like I'm going to be playing with the one and only Eatgolf from, uh, www.eatgolf.com, on Tuesday. Along with him, the group will also include the Mediaguru from www.hookedongolfblog.com. WOW! Golf blog royalty. I better bring it. They're trying to get the golfchick to come too, but I think she's scared (are you gonna take that?). Should be some good fun.
I have to thank the golf bloggers who have united behind me. Thank you. See the previous post and its comments for details.
This post is from my phone. If it looks funny, ah well. Those deserving links (I count 3 in this post) will get them when I get back to civilization.
I've also been really intrigued by a new tour called the US Pro Golf Tour. It is a 10-tournament tour with a purse each week of $200,000 (with a $1,000,000 tour championship). Each week also gets a recap show on the Golf Channel. It goes all across the country, and it seems like it would be a great place to play The entry each week is $300, but there is an up-front fee of $6000 that has to be in by Feb. 28 or before it fills up (142 of 160 spots are filled).
There is a lot of money to be made with a ton of possible exposure. A good season on a tour like this could have a major impact on my career. It seems like it will be a great way to experience the feel of a big tournament atmosphere while also making money.
So I have a new short (very short) term goal to come up with $6000 this week. I've never been good at asking for money/help, but this tour sounds too good to pass up. If I'm able to do it, I think it could be a great opportunity. If anyone has any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them.
Fresh off my victory over the Mediaguru, I see good things ahead.
Speaking of eagles, Tony made an 80 footer for eagle on the first hole (Hole 10, par-5). Game on. I won the next three holes with two pars and another eagle of my own. I won the front nine 3-up. We bumped Tony's strokes up to three for the back nine (I gave him two on the front). Then he started his push. By the 12th hole we were back to even (and he still had his 3 shots coming).
We pushed the next five holes, so it all came down to 18. The Guru was getting a shot on this par-5, and I had the tee. Of course I swung too hard and hit it in trees through the right side of the fairway. Tony was in some trees too. He had to punch out into the fairway. I had a shot at the green, but I needed to hit a low hook with a short swing (damn tree). Somehow, I hit a great shot to about 10 feet. Tony missed the green with his third shot, I made my putt, and he handed me some money. Not bad for my first match with a blogger.
Tony's version and pics can be found HERE. We had a great time.
I hit the ball very good today. I struggled on the wintry greens (iced through and lumpy), and my distance control was horrid. It feels good to start hitting the ball good again (it was an adventure on the Pepsi circuit). The season is just around the corner.
The course was a par-3 course, and the first hole was about 100 yards. We were playing with two other guys who were playing off for first. I was the last one to hit, and I watched all three hit 9-irons up around the green. Pete hit it to the back of the green. I had a junior set of clubs (wedge, 9, 7, 5, 3), and I had hit 7-iron earlier in the day. There was no way I could get a 9 to the green, but as I said, I was intimidated. How could I look like a wimp and hit 7-iron? I tried to forward press a 9-iron and swung as hard as I could. Can you guess where it went?
This is where I choked, and where a lot of choking occurs. We make stupid decisions under pressure. When there is something on the line that is making you choke, you really have to bear down and think things through. Don't rush, don't try to be heroic. Think about what kind of shot needs to be hit and hit it.
So my ball was about 20 yards short of the green. Pete was looking at an easy two-putt. I was dead. I hit a good chip to about 8 feet (I might not consider that good right now, but back then it was pretty good). Pete left his putt a bit short, about 4 feet. I stepped up and calmly rolled my putt in (back then I could really roll my rock with my Ben Hogan blade). Pete missed his, and I miraculously won my first playoff.
I got lucky. After I hit my first shot I realized what an idiot I was being. This put me in a situation where I couldn't win anyways, so I lost a lot of the nerves, made some good shots, and won (err...took 5th). I learned a lot that day. I'm NEVER afraid to hit a wood where other guys hit iron. Who cares? Nobody. And now I really focus on taking my time when I start to feel the heat. You stop thinking clearly when you're choking, so you have to take an extra second to work things out.
Next ON CHOKING: I don't always follow my own rules. I'll talk about a time when my decision making didn't end up with such rosy results.
Length is good. The further you hit it, the easier the game becomes (all else equal). Even on tight hole, who wouldn't want to hit a iron down the middle to where someone is hitting their driver? And when you have a little room to work with, a wedge from the rough is an easier shot than a 6-iron from the fairway (most of the time, at least). This is the way Vijay has looked at things the last few years. He hits driver everywhere (a lot of times in the rough), and when he putts half-decent he wins.
Length is good, but longer hitters should not bring about the floccinaucinihilipilification (holy ten-dollar word Batman) of the short game. If you don't hit it as long, the short game becomes even more important. If you do hit it long the geometry of golf tells you that the further you hit it, the further off line a shot will go. A perfectly straight shot still goes perfectly straight, but a 1 degree miss on a 350 yard shot is going to be more offline than a 1 degree miss with a 280 yard shot. These big hitters still have to have very good short games to score. When they have a week of good ball-striking, though, watch out: They can blitz the field (JB in Phoenix, Tiger's many routs).
Length is good. Length and touch is better. Length, touch, and accuracy is a combination that cannot be beat if you are lacking one or the other.
If you're just starting out, learn how to hit it long. This is what teachers are telling young kids. The accuracy part can be learned later. It is more difficult to add length later on than it is to add accuracy. But while you're starting to rip it, hit a few chips and a few putts. The game hasn't changed that much. You still need to get the ball in the hole.
Lost in a playoff. Yuck.
For the third day in a row I was off to a terrible start, and I had to battle all the way in. I was three over after 7, and played pretty good coming in to shoot 72 (even). I thought that might be enough to have a chance, but a guy (Jeff Wood) birdied the last hole to tie me. The playoff was a continuation of my awful ball-striking. I missed the green left with a four-iron, Jeff missed short left. He hit a pretty good chip to about 5 feet. I thought I hit a good one too, but it snagged in the fringe and came up about 7 feet short. After a complete misread, I missed, he made, and that was all she wrote.
The playoff was a bit weird in that I didn't feel almost any pressure. I almost wish I had. My playoff record coming into this was 3-1 (all as an amateur), so I've had some success. My swing just let me down too many times this week, including the playoff. It needs some work.
On a bright note, I took 3rd at Blackhorse and 2nd in this one. Not bad for having to struggle through. My scrambling skills were on center stage, and they held up nicely (saving me, actually). This is a very good sign, as it is fairly easy for me to work swing problems out with a bit of work. And I've got the time. Not many tournaments in the near future.
Friday we were playing the very tough Bayonet course. Once again I was off to a horrid start, making bogey on the first three holes. I was four over after eight, where I once again found some of my game to end up with a two over par 74. Did I mention this course was tough? This was an OK score. I think 72 ended up winning it. I'll find out how I did later this morning.
Today is the third tournament at a course called Coyote Creek, just south of San Jose. It's a Nicklaus, so it should be pretty good. I didn't get a chance for a practice round. Sometimes you play better that way, sometimes you don't, so we'll see how it goes. I feel 4000 times better about my game than I did Thursday morning. At the end of the round yesterday I actually had an idea of where the ball would go, so that's good.
I still love Monterey. Pebble was looking great for the AT&T. I was sad as I drove away, but I'll be back again.
I played a practice round at Bayonet today. I play at Black Horse tomorrow. I knew Bayonet was a hard course, but I forgot just how hard. The main thing I forgot was how tough the greens are. Plus, the ball goes shorter here than any place I've ever been. When you play a course that is 7100 yards with a dead ball, you have a lot more long irons than normal.
The game feels OK, and with a few early birdies tomorrow it will start to feel very good. Winter rust is a weird thing; you never know what to expect. The way I played in the last tournament let me know that I can still play, so I'm still pretty confident. I have no idea what kind of competition to expect (I haven't seen the pairings), but we'll see how it goes.
If anybody else is going to be at Pebble tomorrow night, I'll see you there.