Sunday, April 11, 2010

Best Weekend of the Year?!

Saturday was the first qualifying round for the Club Championship at the Country Club. Bill managed to get a hall pass to try and qualify as well, so we arranged with the Pro shop to play together and take care of match #4. I am currently ahead 3 - 0 and feeling very confident.

Bill went through the trouble to actually take a lesson on Thursday to fix his broken swing. He called me after his session on the range very excited and told me that I should be very worried. I'll let him in on a little secret. I wasn't very worried.

Golf is a fickle game. Sometimes a new swing thought or slight adjustment can make all the difference. Most of the time a lesson tends to mess with your head. You hit it good on the range in front of the pro, but the first time on the course you tend to revert to your old ways because you have not ingrained the new move yet. Since Bill rarely practices, I was pretty sure whatever the pro was going to tell him, was not going to stick with him for very long. Especially in a pressure situation like the Club Championship Qualifying.

We both started off well with pars on the first hole. I was in great position to look at birdie as I had a wedge in my hand for the third shot, but I bladed it and had a really tough putt from the back of the green all the way to the front. I made a 12 footer for par, which was the first of many great par saves.

Bill's demise began on the second hole when what looked like a good shot on the short par 3, managed to find the water. I hit the green and two putted for par, while Bill made 5.

I don't remember too much about Bill's play on #3, #4, or #5 except that they weren't pars. I made a bogey on 3. On #4 I pushed my drive way right and had to lay up 40 yards short of the green. I hit a great wedge shot to 4 feet and made my par.

On #5, I laid up short of the left fairway bunker with a 5 wood and then hit a great pitching wedge that almost rolled in. I had 15 feet left for birdie and just missed it for an easy par.

#6 is a tough par 4 and this is where Bill really fell apart. I hit another drive way right and Bill followed me over even farther to the right. I had to lay up by hitting a wedge over the trees. Bill was under a tree where he could not make a full swing. He was near the tee box for hole #5 and there were players waiting to hit their tee shots. There was an opening for him to hit the ball to the left and get back into the fairway. Bill was frustrated and a little embarrassed to be where he was in front of these other players. He never looked left. He couldn't go at the pin, because there were trees in the way. Instead he decided to punch out to the right which was stupid because he was still going to have all kinds of tree issues.

After punching out, he took a full swing on his third shot and hit a tree. His 4th shot hit the green and two putted for another 6.

Bill was starting to think about quitting because we were getting Masters updates and his boy, Phil Mickelson was in the hunt. I hit a good drive on the long par 5. Bill yanked his drive left into the trees. We heard it hit the trees but we couldn't see where it bounced off to. Our third playing partner, Chris, said he saw a ball straight down and that's where we started our search. We found a Titliest ball right away and Bill hit a good recovery shot, between the trees that was rolling down the fairway but then in an indication of how his day was going, it just barely trickled into the fairway bunker.

As Bill was getting ready to hit his third shot, Rob came over from the 6th fairway and asked if Bill had hit his ball. Sure enough, Bill looked down at the ball in the bunker and recognized that he had made a huge blunder. Bill was a little mad at Chris for claiming he had found Bill's ball. I have always told Bill that he should make some kind of mark on his ball to identify it, but he has always refused to do it and this is probably the third time I have seen him hit the wrong ball.

Meanwhile, I had hit a good 3 wood down the fairway and had 100 yards to the hole. I hit a solid wedge but it went over the pin and landed 35 feet from the hole. I had a really tough putt that would have been easy to putt right off the front of the green. I hit a pretty good lag putt but still left myself about 5 feet for par. I made the tough putt and stood 2 over par after 7 holes. Bill carded a 9 after the two shot penalty and was 12 over par after 7 holes. He handed me his score card, wished me good luck and walked back into the club house to watch the rest of the Masters.

Part of our bet included a gross score portion where the loser would pay the winner $5 per stroke for every stroke they were behind in gross total for the series. I mentioned this to Bill before he quit and he said to come up with something fair for the round and he would pay it.

I went on to card a 3 over 39 on the front nine. I hit a great 5 iron on #10 to reach the green in two. I made a tough two putt and parred the second hardest hole on the course.

On #11 I was on the green in 2 shots but had a 30 foot putt up the hill for birdie. I gave it a pretty good rap since it was up hill. The line looked good from the beginning but the ball wasn't slowing down. It hit the back of the cup at a good speed and managed to stay in the hole for birdie!

On #12 I barely cleared the lake on the right, but I was under the big tree just beyond the hazard. I had to hit a pitching wedge under the first tree and over the second tree in front of the green. I hit a great shot that ended up 4 feet from the hole. I made that putt and suddenly I had birdied two holes in a row.

The next hole is the start of our club's Amen corner. It's a long 195 yard par 3 with a big lake on the right of the green. I over swung on my hybrid and pulled my shot to the left. It hit a small pine tree 20 yards short of the green and landed underneath the tree. The pin was so close to the front of the green that I did not want to take the chance of trying to hit a high lob shot and coming up short. Instead I hit an 8 iron chip shot that ran up the front of the green and 20 feet past the hole. Now I faced a severe downhill left to right putt for par. I was just trying to nudge it up close and two putt, but my putt rolled past the hole and on to the fringe in front of the green 10 feet past the hole. I missed the combacker for bogey and suddenly erased the two shots I had made up with the birdies.

I thought I had righted the ship when I hit a decent drive on 14 and managed to keep the ball off of Osborn and out of the equipment yard. The problem was that I had tree issues on the right hand side. I tried to hit a 3 metal punch shot low under the trees. Instead my club got under the ball and my shot went too high and into the tree. It made it through the tree but I still had another tree to hit under for my 3rd shot. This time I hit a good punch shot with my 8 iron from 110 yards. It landed in front of the green and bounded through and over the back. Now I had to hit a flop shot to try and get it close. I hit a pretty good one, but I was still 15 feet away for bogey. The cup was cut in the side of a hill so even though I hit a good putt, it rolled away from the hole and left me 4 feet for double bogey. I shakily hit that one in and now I really needed something good to happen.

#15 was the last hole of Amen corner and it was 185 yards into the wind over water. I tried to hit my hybrid again and pulled it left again. This spot is usually dead, because if you go past the green, you have to hit a high shot over a bunker to a green that slopes away from you and a lake on the other side of the green. Now I had a tree directly in my line to the pin, so I was looking for a way to advance my ball closer to the green so I could have a chance at a bogey 4. I decided my best option was to punch out to the right in the fairway short of the hole. This would leave me a 40 yard shot where I would not have to worry about putting the ball in the water and bringing a 6 into play.

I hit a good punch and hit a great wedge shot to 5 feet. I made the putt for 4 and actually felt good about it.

My game came together for a brief moment on 16 as I hit my second shot to the short right pin to 4 feet. Even though my birdie putt was short, it was very down hill and if it was to go more than a foot past the hole, there was a good chance it may roll clear off the green. Somehow I managed to leave this putt 1 inch short. So I was disappointed, but also relieved that at least I finally made a stress free par.

I bogeyed 17 and then played 18 about as flawlessly as I could play it. I had 108 yards to the green for my 3rd shot on the par 5. The pin was tucked to the right hugging the lake. I made a great swing and the ball landed hole high, 20 feet left of the pin. I made a good lag putt and tapped in for a 78. This was the first time I had broken 80 in a two or three months and it was in a pressure situation from the back tees. I was really proud of myself.

Sunday, I spent the afternoon watching the final round of the Masters. I was happy for Phil Mickelson to win. He made some amazing shots to save par and his 2nd shot on 13 from out of the woods was one of the best shots the Masters has ever seen.

Mickelson winning, cost me $75 in my bet with Bill. I had Anthony Kim and Tiger Woods on my team, but Bill had Mickelson and Lee Westwood. Bill called and offered that instead of paying him $75, that I forgive all his strokes in our golf match and call it even. Since I was going to offer him $50 as the buy out amount, I guess that means I made $25.

Then tonight, I had the pleasure of taking in a Suns game. It was a great game that went down to the wire until the Suns got hot from the 3 point line and pulled away.

I can't think of many things I would rather do on a weekend then what I did in the past 48 hours.

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