Started out shaky as usual at the Salt Lake City Amateur yesterday (Saturday). This tournament is the biggest one of my season, and my nerves are always tough to control. We started on the back with a tough driving hole, ravine short and OB right. I challenged the OB but stayed in. The 2nd shot from 197 with a Bobby Jones hybrid was perfect and ended up pin high right on the fringe. The problem, is that 10 green is one of the most severely sloping and fast greens anywhere. It was practically impossible to get that putt close and stop it at the hole. The ball rolled down to about 15 feet below where I’d take two more putts for a bogey.
My patience was challenged on the 3rd hole of the day, a par-5. I crushed my drive straight down the middle. But my 3-wood was pulled down the left tree line. When I finally found my ball, it was three feet in the air on the limb of a pine tree. Had to take an unplayable. Bogey on a par-5. I was grinding to keep the ship afloat on the first nine, ending with a +5 41. Not good, not a nuclear meltdown.
On the 10th hole of the day I hit a great drive on this uphill par-5. I was only 165 out, but it is severely uphill. I flared my approach to the absolute wrong place. I was short sided in deep rough. I hit a perfect flop shot though and ended up about seven feet behind the hole. I drained the insanely fast downhill putt for my first birdie of the tournament.
11th hole I hit a good drive on this shorter par-4. I was 106 out on the approach, which I knocked to pin high but once again above the hole. I saw a great line and put a great stroke on the putt. Two birdies in a row. I went from +5 to +3 quickly.
The next two holes unfortunately I made bogey on due to bad approach shots and missing the green.
5th hole of the back was a par-5 with a blind 2nd shot. I hit two good shots, driver and 3-wood, to end up just next to the green but in deep rough. The rough is deep for this event, sort of their US Open setup. My chip was once again very good, though short sided. I made the putt for birdie. Back to +4.
The rest of the nine I ground my way home with all pars and a moderately satisfying round of +4, 76.
I’m now in ‘A’ flite this year as I was last year. I’m not in the “champ” flite anymore. Champ is the flight which the college players and +3’s of the world shoot 66 every day. My flite is handicaps 3-7. They really do it right with the flites, preventing sandbagging. There are only three flites, champ, A and B. B flite is 7 and up. ALL scores are gross only. No net.
The lowest score in my flite was a 71. Seldom do players play two good rounds in this format. I know first hand. There was a 72 and a few 74’s. I’m right in the mix with a +4 round, only five shots separating me from the guy in first. I may not win the thing today, but if I can shoot another decent mid 70’s rounds like yesterday I should be deep into the money.
Patience and conservative play most of the day will be the ticket. Fairways and fats of greens are the target.
A report will follow.