Saturday, March 24, 2007

Another Hard Fought Golf Victory

The $500 best golfer challenge between Bill and I is tied 3.5 to 3.5. Bill and I played match number 8 of the 10 match series today at Phoenix Country Club. This would be a vital match to win because there are only 3 left. If I win today then Bill would have to win outright the next two. He can't even tie or he will lose the $500 bet.

Just to be different, we decided to play from the back tees today instead of the normal white tees. The first eight holes were pretty uneventful. We both played pretty solid golf and Bill was one stroke ahead. On the ninth tee, Bill pulled his drive left and it ricocheted off of the 60 foot high driving range net and into the rough. I pounded a 260 yard drive down the right side of the fairway, racing by the big pine tree that usually gives me trouble.

Bill's recovery shot hit another tree and he was still 30 yards short of the green before his third shot. I had 122 yards to the back pin placement. I hit my pitching wedge a little fat and hit the front end of the green. I was going to have a difficult two putt since the first putt was about 50 feet away from the hole.

Bill's third shot was a horribly mishit and raced over the green and into the rough. He then wedged on to the green and two putted for a 6. I managed to hit a good putt to about 4 feet and made the second for par and a two stroke swing.

Heading into the back nine I was in control with a one stroke lead. We both bogeyed the next 2 holes. Then Bill picked up a stroke on 12 after I double bogeyed it.

The holes 13, 14, and 15 are the stretch of holes we like to call "Amen Corner" at Phoenix CC. Twelve is a 205 yard par 3 from the back tees with a lake on the right and a 5 foot deep collection area on the left. Bill stepped up and hit a dying flare right into the lake. I briefly considered hitting a 5 iron short of the green and the lake just to be safe, but my pride would not let me. I hit my 4 iron hybrid with the idea that if I can hit the green and 2 putt I might pick up 2 strokes on this hole and give myself a cushion going into the tough 14th. The shot did not come off quite as planned as I hit it a little chubby and ended up ten yards short of the green. Pretty much the same place I would have been with a 5 iron.

Bill took his drop and hit a great wedge to about 6 feet. I chipped up to 4 feet. Bill missed, then I missed. Still it was a one stroke pop to get me back to even. Bill's wife Alisha came out to join us after spending the afternoon shopping at the mall. Bill has this crazy idea that I have never beat him in golf when we have played with a family member of his. I don't think that's true, but I don't have any examples to prove otherwise. Just as Alisha showed up, I hit my drive. I hit it well, but it was pushed to the right. It started the death fade farther right out of bounds towards Osborn Road. Luckily by the time it was getting close to the fence, it was near the end of it's flight and it was low enough to actually hit the fence and bounce back into play. My first lucky break of the round.

Bill hit two iron dead right out of bounds on to road. I had to stifle a laugh over the irony of having Alisha there to see it. His third shot off the tee was not much better landing in the right rough 200 yards from the green. I had trouble of my own and had to punch a low runner under a big pine tree about 100 yards up the fairway. I then hit my lob wedge to 8 feet past the hole. My par putt just grazed the lip of the cup and I was in for bogey. Bill stumbled in with a 7 and now I am up 3 with 4 to go.

Fifteen is the last hole of Amen corner and it is another long par three over water. The pin was tucked right and there was no way I was aiming for it. I hit a six iron at the middle of the green and it drew to the left back edge of the green leaving me 60 feet to the hole for birdie. Bill finally got mad enough to hit a great shot to 15 feet.

I was facing a very difficult two putt for par. I was 60 feet away with a left to right break of about 5 feet. I started the ball with good pace and about half way there I was starting to get excited. It was heading straight for the cup. It rolled right over the front lip and bounced off the back and settled 5 feet from the cup. Almost a miracle birdie that would have ripped Bill's heart out.

After Bill recovered from almost seeing me drain a monster putt he gritted his teeth and managed to sink his putt for birdie. Now I had to make my par putt to make sure I did not have two stroke swing. My hands were shaking slightly as I brought the putter back. Somehow I put a good stroke on it and the ball disappeared in the hole for 3.

Bill had the honors on 16 and pulled his iron shot left into the trees. I hit a horrible 5 wood 200 feet high and 50 yards long just past the ladies tee. It was by far my worst swing of the day. I hit my second attempt at a 5 wood solid, but it was moving a little left and close to a small tree 30 yards short of the green. The tree was a minor hindrance, but that was not my biggest problem. I only had 20 feet of green to work with since anything short would run back down the hill and anything long would go into a very deep bunker. I hit a great shot that landed in the fringe and rolled past the pin 5 feet. I made the putt for a miracle par to tie Billy on the hole.

I stepped up to the par 4 17th with a 2 stroke lead. We both hit good drives, but mine was 30 yards past Bill's. Since Bill was farther away from the hole, he had to play first. Bill made one his worst swings of the day and hit the banana slice into the lake. Now all I need to do is keep my shot dry. I was 155 yards away from the middle of the green with a little wind at my back. Normally that is a choked up 7 iron but, I decided to use the 8 iron to make sure I could not reach the bunkers over the green. I hit my 8 iron solidly with a little draw and it hit the green and rolled to the edge of the bunker. I had to hit an awkward shot standing on my toes on the edge of the bunker for my chip, but I kept it within 7 feet. I made the putt for par and staggered home with a 7 giving me a five stroke lead going into 18. The match was over. The final score was 84 to 89.

Now I lead the series 4.5 to 3.5. All I need to do is eke out a tie in the next two matches to win the $500 bet. Our next round is scheduled for Sunday next week. We are playing with Bill's Dad. It would be unbelievably sweet if I can win the match in front of his Dad. I'll have Bill pay me Bob Barker style counting out all the money aloud right in the pro shop. It will be my greatest golf victory ever.

No comments: