Monday, January 29, 2007

Bad Poker, Good Golf

The weekend started off badly as I managed to donk off $200 in online poker. The first hundred was due to me deciding to get cute with AK after flopping an Ace. I slow played it and let the guy with AQ hit his inside straight and take 80% of my chips. Then I tilted off the rest bluffing into a pot with an inside straight draw. No Limit causes so much frustration because you can play great for an hour, make one bad play, and destroy all the profits from the first hour.

The second $100 was lost $20 at a time. I found a good table and kept waiting to get good cards against the bad players but it just never seemed to happen. Luckily, earlier in the week I had made some profits so I think I was probably only down $40 for the week.

My main focus all weekend was the upcoming golf match with Bill. On Saturday, Michele took baby Jake to work, so I had the day to myself. I spent a couple of hours at the club practicing my short game and hitting a few drivers and 3 woods.

Sunday was the big day. I was really keyed up because if I win the 18th hole from the previous match and then win the regular match today, our score would be 3-3. I haven't been this nervous about a golf round in a while and I had to tell myself that it was just a round of golf and if I lose $500 over the bet, it won't change my standard of living. Basically, all the silly stuff you tell yourself when you are trying to calm down.

I arrived an hour early to get loose and surprisingly, Bill also arrived early. He almost never warms up, but he knew he was not going to get a mulligan off the 18th tee and he wanted to be ready.

We drove out to 18 and it was a beautiful sunny day. A lot different then when we last left the hole a week ago, just before it started snowing. I had the honor so I hit a perfect 3 wood down the middle. Bill hit a 2 iron down the left side that was hooking slightly. We drove down the fairway and found Bill's ball. He was stuck behind a tree and was not able to take a full swing. He bunted the ball forward about 20 yards. Then he hit his 3rd shot to the right and was behind the big pine tree in front of the lake which guards the green.

After Bill's drama, all I needed to do was lay up with a 5 iron. I hit it perfect and had 120 yards into the flag. The pin was back, so I all I needed to do was aim for the middle of the green. I hit a good wedge and it stopped 6 feet from the pin. Now it's virtually over.

Bill was going to have to hit a shot under the pine tree, over the water, and get the low running shot to stop on the fast green. It's nearly impossible to pull off. Bill took a swipe at the ball and it took off hot. It hit the tree and bounced right back to him. He hit the ball again, this time missing the tree but hitting the water. Somehow the ball skipped off the water and out to the edge of the fairway. He was going to pick up, but I told him he might make it for 6, so he tried and ran it over the green into the back bunker. I picked up my ball after Bill conceded and we moved on to the first tee. The score was now 3-2.

Over the first two holes, I picked up one stroke. On the third hole, I pulled my drive left and had to punch out down the fairway. Bill hit his drive further left and his ball rolled into the fairway bunker on the left side of #4. His lie was not great and he had trees in front of him. He hit his first shot solidly but it was fading to the right and took a bad hop even further to the right. He was flirting with out of bounds, so he hit a provisional. This one was worse but it was in play.

As Bill went to look for his ball, I had 200 yards into the green and decided to hit my hybrid club. I hit it perfectly with a little fade. Unfortunately it was too perfect and there was some wind behind us that I failed to notice. My ball flew over the green by 20 yards. Meanwhile, Bill was looking for his ball. He found one and hit a great pitch under a tree and over a bunker to about 25 feet.

I was still waiting for him to drive over so I could pull my wedge. Then Bill announced, "I hit the wrong ball!" Apparently he hit a Titleist Pro V1, but Curtis found another one close by and Bill realized that the first one he hit had the wrong number on it. Bill hit his ball this time and it wasn't quite as good, but it was still on the green. I hit a bad pitch and left myself with 40 feet for bogey. Bill managed to two putt for 5 plus 2 penalty strokes for a total of 7. Somehow I rolled in my long putt for bogey and now my lead was 3.

We continued to play good golf until the 7th hole, a long par 5. I have decided that I will play a 3 wood off the tee here to keep the ball in play and to stay short of the fairway bunker on the right. I can't reach the green in two, so I might as well try and stay out of the trees. My strategy paid off as I had a 110 yard shot into the pin for my third shot. I hit it perfectly and it was on the flag like a fat kid on a twinkie. It almost went in on the fly and stopped 12 inches away for a tap in birdie. Now the lead is 4.

I made a tricky bogey putt on 9 to close out the front 9 with a 40. Bill shot 44. On 10 I made my standard play of the day which was yank my drive left, punch out, hit the green and two putt. Bill did the same.

On 11 Bill made a move. He hit his drive right, but he had a shot at the green. Meanwhile I hit 3 wood as far left as anyone can hit it. It was so far left that it went into the lake on the right side of hole 12. I took a drop and hit 7 iron back into the fairway on 11. I hit a good wedge to about 15 feet. For some reason I was seeing the line very well all day, and managed to drain another big putt to save bogey. It was a good thing that my putt went in, because Bill made his birdie putt to pull within two strokes.

I got up and down for par on 12 and I made par on 13. Bill missed a 3 foot side hill putt for par and my lead was 3 again. Here comes number 14, my nemesis. This hole has pretty much decided 3 out of our 5 matches. Bill starts talking some trash about how many balls I have lost out of bounds on this hole, but I step up and rip a 3 wood right down the middle. I pulled my approach left, but hit another great chip and made the 5 footer for par. Bill made his par and I still had a 3 stroke lead.

The par 3 15th hole was playing easy for me today. The pin was back right with a bunker in front and over the lake. The pin was hard, but it made it easy for me to just hit something safe to the middle of the green. When the pin is in front, I often try to get cute and hit it close which has caused me to lose balls in the water in the past. This time I hit a good 8 iron. Once again it was too good and went over the green into the back bunker. Bill also joined me in the back bunker. My worst fears were realized when I found my ball in the bunker. My ball was half buried in the sand. The green sloped away from me down to the lake in front of the green. This was a very difficult shot. I dug my feet in and hit it perfectly. It still ran 20 feet by the hole, but at least I was putting instead of hitting out of another bunker or fishing it out of the lake. Bill and I both made bogey and we moved on to 16.

On 16 I made another great up and down for par and Bill parred as well so I still have the 3 stroke lead with 2 to play. Bill stepped up to the tee on 17 and hit a solid 2 iron down the right hand side and I hit the same drive I had been hitting all day, which was a pull left into the trees. I was forced to punch out and I had 135 yards into the green. It is important to keep the ball below the hole on 17 because the slope on this green is pretty severe. I hit it right where I wanted and had 30 feet for par. Bill hit the back of the green and had a tough 2 putt for par, but he pulled it out. I hit an ok lag to about 4 feet. Unfortunately I missed the left to right breaking putt and double bogeyed the hole. I was not too upset because I felt like I played the hole the best I could, after the bad drive. It's just that tough of a hole.

For the second time today, we are on 18 and I have a one stroke lead. I don't know what he was thinking, but Bill was in a hurry and teed off on 18 with a Driver before I had even walked off of the 17th green. I told him I had missed the putt and double bogeyed the hole.

"You are down by one now," I told Billy.

"I'm only down one? If I'd a known that, I wouldn't have hit driver!" said Billy. He had pulled his drive far left into the fairway on 17. He later admitted that he thought he was down 2 and was planning on trying to hit the green in two shots on the par 5 18th. No chance of that now.

I hit a good 3 wood and had 275 yards to the green. I wanted to get as close as I could without bringing the water into play. I figured a 200 yard shot should do the trick, so I hit my hybrid club. I hit it pretty solid but it started to fade right and landed on right hand side of the fairway and trickled into the rough. There was a good chance that I might be stuck behind the big pine tree just like Bill was earlier today.

Bill played it safe from the 17th fairway and hit it back into the fairway on 18 about 100 yards away from the pin. He flushed a wedge and stuck it 6 feet from the hole. Now I'm really in trouble.

When I found my ball, the news was even worse. I had a muddy lie, but not wet enough to declare that it was in casual water. The tree was right in my line so I could not hit it over it. The lake was sitting in front of me, waiting to gobble up my victory. The greens on the course have been running so fast, that my shot looked impossible to pull off. I decided to punch a 9 iron under the tree, over the lake, and into the bank in front of the green. Hopefully that would take enough off the shot, that it would roll onto the green and stay out of the bunkers. I hit the shot perfectly and managed to stop rolling on the left edge of the green 25 feet from the hole.

Now it's 2 putts for a sure tie. My putt was going to break about 2 feet left to right and was downhill. I hit a good putt that was a little short and broke under the hole. I was left with 24 inches for par. A gimme. I asked if Bill was going to be a jerk about it and he told me to pick it up for the par.

Now Bill has to make his putt for the tie. It had a few inches of left to right break on it, but I fully expected him to make it. He hit it a little hesitantly and that took off enough speed that it broke under the hole and he missed. Sweet Victory! I finished with an 80 and Bill had an 81. It was by far the best score for both of us in the series, but I managed to squeak out the win and now it's tied 3-3. What a great day!

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