Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I take a 2-0 lead against Billy

Golf Match #2 with Bill Watson

The weather forecast said the rain would stop by 7:00 AM on Sunday morning. Since Bill and I were scheduled to play at 10:30 AM, I thought we would be fine. Last weekend, we were supposed to play our second match, but a torrential down pour after 7 holes caused us to pack it in. In the ensuing 7 days, the weather had been picture perfect with highs in the mid 70’s.

This all changed on Saturday night, when the next storm from California hit our desert state. It was a light rain, but it had been going non-stop since midnight. At 9:30 AM I called Bill and said that I did not want to play in the rain again. There are 350 days a year when it is sunny in Arizona and there is no reason to play when the weather is crappy.

Bill pleaded with me to drive to the club and make a “game time” decision. His whole week had been devoted to carving out time so he could play on Sunday and he wasn’t about to let it go just yet. I finally caved and said I would drive down to the club. If it was still raining, I would just have an early lunch.

Sure enough, I got to the club and the rain had stopped. The clouds were still there, but there was no one on the course and it looked like we could play after all.

Bill and I decided not to warm up because we wanted to take advantage of all the good weather we could. We started on the back nine again, because one two-some had jumped ahead of us on the first tee and I did not want to play behind them for the whole round.

I have been having a lot of trouble with 4 foot putts lately and I faced one on the very first hole. Since I did not have any warm up and I was shivering in the 50 degree weather, I missed my first one of the day and took a double bogey six. Bill managed to scrape out a 5.

On #11 (our second hole) I hit 5 iron from the middle of the fairway. I hooked my shot a little left and instead of nestling comfortably in the bunker, it skipped over the bunker and nearly went out of bounds. I had to hit a half pitch over a bunker, with little green to work with and the fence behind me, restricting my swing. I somehow managed to clear the bunker and leave myself 20 feet from the pin on the fringe of the green. Bill had hit his drive way to the right and struggled to make a 6. I two putted for a 5 and we were even again.

#12 Was a comedy of errors. Bill stone cold topped his drive and it went 20 yards. Then he hit his two iron into the lake on the right. Meanwhile I hit a great drive and had a 52 degree wedge in my hand from 100 yards away. I hit a hook into the left hand bunker which plugged. I made a really good shot out of the bunker in that it almost stayed on the green. I two putted for bogey. Bill finally got up to the green and one putted for a 6.

I picked up another stroke on #13 and 3 strokes on #14 when Bill hit his drive out of bounds.

On #15 I pushed my 8 iron to the right. It cleared the lake but it did not make it far enough to get on the green. You would think with all the rain that the grass would be sticky, but it rolled 7 feet back and into the lake. After the penalty and a bad pitch, I managed to miss another short putt and carded a 6. Bill made a par and we were even again. Did I mention that we played terrible?

I managed to eke out a one stroke lead after 9 holes. I missed another short putt on #2 to lose my lead. I finally started to play some decent golf and went 2 over par for the next 4 holes while Bill went 5 over par. Now I have a 3 stroke lead with 4 to play.

From the beginning I was determined to beat Bill by a lot for making me come out in the rain. Bill might get some joy out of just being out of the house even if it’s in the rain, but I don’t. I’d much rather play in the sunshine. I wanted to make Bill pay for convincing me to come out and since each stroke I beat him by was an extra $5, I thought this was a chance to pad my lead.

Instead I missed a short putt on #7 and another one on #8 to make the match interesting once again. Luckily Bill did not capitalize on the first missed putt so I still had a two stroke lead. Bill hit his best drive of the day and his approach shot looked like it was going to be really good. Lucky for me, the wind caught a hold of it and he came up just short of the green. I had pulled my drive left and had left my 200 yard approach shot short and to the right of the green. I had a tough pitch shot over a bunker to a pin that was close to the edge of the green. I was proud of myself for making a good aggressive shot and I had a real chance to save par. Meanwhile Bill hit his putt, but he missed it to the right. I managed to get in the hole in two putts to win by one.

I now lead our match 2-0. Bill has decided that he needs a lesson or some time on the range before he comes back for more pain. I know that I need to spend a lot of time on the putting green. Until then, I will continue to trash talk like I have already one.

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