I’m about to hit the sack and get some rest. Tomorrow at 1PM I tee of in my yearly appearance at the Salt Lake City Amateur. This to me is the hands down biggest and most intense tournament of the year. I’ve been playing in this event for years. I’ve enjoyed every round, barring some of my performances.
This is the primary yearly tournament which I really want to play well in. I’m in championship flight. This puts me, a current 2 handicap, up against college players and young flat bellies who will shoot 66’s. Unless I break my personal record two days in a row, under pressure, I don’t have a chance at winning. I don’t expect to win. I just want to perform my best and maybe, just maybe, finish IN the money for the first time ever.
They do this tournament right. No handicaps. You play in flights, straight up stroke play for two days, 36 holes.
This tourney is on one of my three home courses, Bonneville. Bonneville isn’t the longest course out there but they do lenghthen it and toughen it up. The greens at “Bonney” are the primary defense for the course. When they jack them up to an 11-12 on the stimp they are brutal. There are places you just can’t go. Downhill putts are dead. It takes true putting skill to tame these babies. Even the hot college players can be baffled by the subtleties of these greens, which I know like the back of my hand.
This tournament is the longest continually running amateur tournament in the USA. Yes you heard me.
My history in this tournament is that of ups and downs. I’ve shot 73 in the first round several times, putting myself right in the mix with the big boys. One year during high winds I managed a 73 in round one. The head pro for the course came up to me and put his arm around me and said, “Tony, that was one hell of a round in those conditions.” How cool to hear that. It was one of the 3-4 lowest rounds that day. Unfortunately every year I’ve shot low on day one I’ve knocked myself out of contention and out of my satisfaction with 2nd rounds in the 80’s.
Just last year I shot 73, 81. I get so nervous that my stomach feels like it is twisting into a knot. I can’t breathe. I’m shaking. I want to perform well so badly, that the desire to do so hurts my performance.
This year I just fought off a complete breakdown of my entire game, including my 2nd ever bout of the shanks just last week. The first bout started back in 2004 during this tournament, where I scored some sort of double digit number on a par-3.
I feel a bit different this year going into it. I’ve gone through so much crap in my personal life that playing in a damn golf tournament seems like nothing. I think I have some perspective this time around and I’m looking forward to teeing it up in a more relaxed fashion, with more perspective. I’ll make some bogeys and maybe even a double or two. I’ll try not to get too bent out of shape because on this course I CAN make birdies and lots of them.
I’m also looking forward to playing golf with a long time golf pal Jim, who just suffered the loss of twins with his wife after complications with her pregnancy.
I’ve played a ton of golf lately, and I feel pretty good about my swing. I have some new short game techniques and some areas which still suck. I feel REALLY good about my putting, which is crucial in this event.
Wish me luck. Round one starts in 13.5 hours.