Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bill and Larry Golf Bet Round 2

I am up 1-0 in out best of 10 rounds bet. Today was round number 2. I made the classic mistake of taking a lesson yesterday and trying to change a couple of things in my swing. As Tin Cup said, "my swing feels like an unfolded lawnchair!"

We started today on the 10th hole. I picked up a stroke as Bill double bogeyed the first hole and I scraped out a bogey. Bill got the stroke back on the 12th with a par and another bogey from me. Then he picked up 2 more strokes on 14 when he made birdie to my bogey.

I was not starting off well since I had bogeyed the first 6 holes. I finally made my first par on 16, but I slipped back with a bogey on 17 to fall 3 strokes behind.

Bill let me back into the match on 18. It is a 512 yard par 5 which Bill can reach in 2 if he hits a strong tee shot. With my weak driving, I have never been close to reaching it. I hit a good drive off the tee, but Bill hit a tree with his tee shot, and his second shot was not much better. I laid up with a 5 iron and had 105 yards to the pin. Bill was looking at 230 yards with water on the right front of the green and bunkers on the left. He tried to hit 2 iron left of the green, but he pushed it into the water. I hit my wedge to about 15 feet and missed the birdie putt. I made the 3 foot come backer for another par. Bill took a drop and then hit another bad wedge shot short of the green. He finally chipped on and one putted for a 7.

After making up 2 shots on 18, I was only one shot behind going into our final 9 holes. I proceeded to give Bill a big cushion again as I missed a short putt for par on #1 and then 3 putted #2. Meanwhile Bill made a miraculous par on #1 after getting stuck behind the huge pine trees left of the green and then birdied #2. So it's back to a 4 shot cushion with 7 holes to play.

In a common theme throughout the day, Bill let me right back into the match on #3. We both hit good drives off the tee. We each had 200 yards to the green for our second shot. Somehow Bill hit his 3 iron 30 yards right and out of bounds. After taking the stroke and distance penalty, he hit his next shot into the greenside bunker on the right. I hit my long awaited first solid shot of the day with my 4 iron replacement to the middle of the green. Bill hit a good long bunker shot, but could not convert the putt and had to settle for a 7. I two putted for my par 4 and picked up 3 strokes to close Bill's lead to one.

The 4th hole is a tough 383 yard par 4 with fairway bunkers on the left and right and deep greenside bunkers as well. Plus the front half of the green slopes severely from back to front. Bill and I both hit strong drives that finished up within 1 yard of each other. Bill hit his pitching wedge and it landed on the front right of the green. I hit the same club and once again our balls were within 3 feet of each other. Unfortunately, my ball was farther away from the hole so I had to putt first and show Bill the break on the putt. I hit a good one to gimme range and made par. Bill then stepped up and drained the 25 footer for his 3rd birdie of the day.

I dropped another stroke on #6 to fall 3 strokes behind with 3 to play. Then I made an incredible comeback. Hole number 7 is the longest par 5 on the course at 547 yards. We both hit lousy drives left into the trees. I punched out down the fairway leaving me 230 yards to the green. Bill punched out into the fairway bunkers 125 yards from the green. I took my 3 wood and hit a really solid shot that ended up just short of the green with a front pin. Bill had to carry a pretty high lip in the bunker. While Bill was getting ready to hit his difficult bunker shot, I mentioned that I might just hole my chip for birdie so he better not play it safe wedging it out short of the green. Bill hit a good shot, but he pushed it right and into the back greenside bunker. I hit my 60 degree wedge pitch shot and it looked like it was going right into the cup....but it broke hard to the left at the last second and I had to settle for par. Bill could not get up and down from the bunker and I picked up one stroke.

Two strokes down with two to play. Number 8 is a 169 yard par 3. They had tucked the pin behind the greenside bunker on the left. Since I was behind, I felt compelled to shoot at it. I hit the ball solidly, but put some hook spin on it and missed the green to the left. Bill hit a good shot to about 20 feet from the cup. I was lucky enough to have a clear shot at the pin, but there was a pine tree just to the left of my line that would restrict my follow through. Plus I had short sided myself so I did not have a lot of green to work with. My short pitch shot came off perfectly as it bunced twice in the fringe and then trickled down to the hole where it came up 12 inches short of perfection. I was very happy to escape with a par 3. Bill in trying to break my heart and spirit by making birdie, ran his putt eight feet by the hole. I had to stifle a chuckle as he missed the par putt and let me back into the match for the third time today.

Our final hole was #9. It's a 381 yard par four with fairway bunkers on the left and a huge pine and olive tree on the right. It's important to find the fairway on this hole if you want any chance at birdie or an easy par. I was really proud of myself as I hit one of my best drives of the day right down the middle. Bill continued to choke by firing his drive out to the right. Sometimes you can hit it far enough to the right that you avoid all the trouble and have a clear shot at the green. Bill was not quite that lucky. He had 148 yards to the pin, but he would have to hit about a 10 yard draw to avoid the tree in front of him. He hit a pretty good shot, but he did not account for the fact that when you hit a draw, you tend to hit the ball a little farther than when you hit a straight ball or a fade. His ball bounced off the back of the green into the rough.

I was sitting in the middle of the fairway with 150 yards to go. The pin was on the back edge of the green and to go long would be an impossible up and down. I usually hit my 8 iron 140-145 yards so that seemed like the club. However I had been hitting my irons short all day and I needed to make sure I had a chance a birdie. I decided to hit a choked up 7 iron. I figured that by choking up, it would also help me keep the ball flight straighter. The shot came off perfectly and it looked like it was going to end up in birdie range. It landed pin high, but because of the lower shot trajectory, it did not stop right away and trickled forward and just into the fringe at the back of the green. I was going to have a chance at winning this round.

With a one stroke lead, Bill's main objective should have been to finish with no worse than a bogey. If he bogeys, then that would force me to birdie the hole for the win. That means that at a minimum he needed to hit his pitch shot on the green and two putt. Instead he tried to be a hero and hit the perfect pitch. It came up short and he had to hit another pitch. His second attempt was not that good either as it left him 8 feet for bogey.

I decided to putt from the fringe. It was 20 feet with about 3 feet of break from left to right. I hit the putt with good speed, but misread the break just a little. It was a good putt and I made the two footer for par to put all the pressure on Bill. He still had 8 feet to try and tie the match. It never had a chance as it started out to the right from the beginning. Bill finished with a soul crushing double bogey and handed me the match. The final score was 83 - 84 to give me a 2-0 lead in our best of 10 matches.

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