I came into today’s Salt Lake Amateur having gone through three huge events in my personal world the two weeks before the tournament. My concentration level due to these major events has not been good. One event was of course my awesome wedding. Another event was a tragic happening to someone close to me which was a heart breaker to say the least. The critical part of that event is over now, but it lives on daily. The 3rd was the most brutal and stressful event I’d ever endured, which took roughly five years to reach and conclude. I had enough stress and anxiety in the last two weeks to last a lifetime.
With all of that behind me I hoped to play well today, and I did except for a few swings. Having not played in a high pressure event since 2009, I was very nervous. I was doing my best attempt at deep breathing to calm myself. I’d love to do a hole by hole but I’ll do a just a couple of highlights. I need to hit the sack and get some rest for tomorrow.
Short game caused my two bad holes and double bogeys. Granted the rough is very deep and thick in this tourney so chipping is tough, but I still should have been able to make pars or bogeys and not gag the two doubles I had. The 2nd double came on the 17th hole when I was sitting quite well at +3.
I had some very nervous big swings with my driver. One should have gone OB but hit a tree and kicked back into the fairway. I made par on that hole instead of what perhaps could have been a double or worse.
I had one three putt. Unforced error. I get pretty mad when I do that.
I made some birdies. One the 5th hole of the day (started on the back) I pulled my drive into deep left rough. I lasered it at 201. Problem was that there was a giant tree about 50 yards in front of me. I pulled a 7-iron to get over the tree and hit it better than I could have imagined. Expecting to be 30 yards short of the green, my ball actually ended up about 10 feet right of the pin. I drained the putt for bird.
On my 8th hole my buddy said “you need to make birdie on this hole.” So on this par-3 I hit a nice solid 8-iron to pin high left and drained a 15 foot putt. I listen to instructions well.
I had a couple of great recovery shots. On the 13th I missed the green left in deep rough. The pin was left. I was short sided and had a downhill lie. I had no choice but to try a flop. It was the only way I could keep the ball in the same zip code as the hole. Phil Mickelson would have been proud as the flop softly landed and rolled to three feet. I made the par saver.
On my 16th hole I tried to play conservative and hit 3-wood to keep it on the fairway. My nervous swing took over and I hooked it into rough which was knee deep. To add to the misery of my terrible lie, I had to hit a 150 yard shot under two trees. I punched an 8-iron very well, and it rolled to about 10 yards short. One of the few good chips got me just past the hole where I made the par putt.
On my 18th (9th hole) I have many nightmare memories. This hole alone knocked me out of the money in this tournament two years in a row. It is possibly the toughest par-3 in town. Miss the green left and you are staring at a bogey or worse. I chunked my 6-iron short. In British Open style, I putted from about five yards short, up the huge tier in the green, to one foot behind the hole. Last year I doubled and tripled this damn hole. This year so far, par.
In my flight (3-6 handicap), my pal Arnie is tied for 2nd. I’ve got nine guys in front of my 77 and I’m four shots back. They pay 18 spots so I’m right in the money. Many players really gag hard on day two and the course will be even tougher. If I can play well, I should be able to break into the money for the first time ever in this event.