In my previous posts I’ve discussed the Salt Lake City Amateur and how I feel a lot of pressure. Two days after that tournament I had to play a gross match against a 1.4 handicap opponent. I’ve not been playing to a level I expect from myself, so I had doubts as to my chances of victory.
I started out hot though. I made birdie on the first two holes, winning both. We tied the third hole and my opponent made birdie on the tough 4th, at which time I was just 1UP. We both had eagle putts on the par-5 5th and both two-putted. On the par-3 6th we both hit the green. I two-putted but my opponent missed a very short par-putt. Back to 2UP.
Then it got weird. On the short par-4 7th I hit a pushed drive down the right rough were there are some trees. Often the shot will finish in an okay position there, just a sand wedge to the green. My ball looked to hit right at the base of a tree and neither of us saw it bounce or go anywhere at that point. We searched for the allowed five minutes and the ball was nowhere to be found. I theorize the ball embedded into the tree somehow, or ended up climbing up and lodging high overhead. I had to go retee and ended up making a double. Back to 1UP.
I made a solid par on the par-4 8th and my opponent had tree trouble which produced a bogey. 2UP.
On the very difficult 195 yard par-3 9th I almost jarred my tee shot. It finished about four feet. I made birdie. 3UP.
We both tied the 11th with 2-putt-pars.
Walking to the 11th tee with my 4-iron I stepped over a rope. Somehow my shoe caught the rope and I was not ready for that. I fell flat on my face and my ball, tee, and 4-iron went flying. I hurt my left wrist and left knee. Mostly I hurt my pride. Somehow I managed to hit a solid tee shot being a little shaken. I made par and my opponent made bogey. 4UP.
We both tied the par-5 12th. I got away with that one. He was a long hitter and was over the green in two. I made a clutch par saving downhill putt from about five feet.
I had a great opportunity on the 13th. My opponent made bogey and I ended up with a five footer uphill to win the hole and put the match to dormie. I should have been more aggressive. The putt tailed off and missed. That gave him life and he took advantage.
On the par-4 14th I made bogey and my opponent made an impressive birdie. 3UP.
On the par-3 15th from 225 I chunked a 4-iron. I then chunked my 2nd shot. At this point I’m beginning to battle the choke mechanism. I lose the damn hole to a bogey. Not impressive.
The 16th is a very reachable par-5. I knew my opponent would have a good shot at birdie or even eagle. He blocked his drive into the right rough and had a slight tree issue. I was a couple of feet in the left rough about 250 out. I hit a killer hybrid which crept onto the front of the big green, but the pin was back. My opponent blew his shot past the green nearly into some trees. He had no backswing. His third shot hit the rough behind the green and he chipped onto the green to about 15 feet. I was too conservative with my eagle putt and ended up 3-putting for a par. My opponent made a clutch putt to tie and keep the match alive. Dormie 2 (2UP with two holes to play).
At this point I’m getting nervous. He has the momentum after that clutch putt and clawing his way to dormie two from 4-down. He hit a stellar shot to the par-3 17th and had about 10 foot birdie putt. I gagged my tee shot and ended up short of the green. Would my nemesis chipping and bad short game lose this hole? Not if I use a Texas wedge! I putted from about 10 feet off the green to about four feet. My opponent missed his birdie and I gave him the par. That left me a slick left to right four footer for the win.
I shot -2 on the front nine with a double (the tree ball), and ended with my best round of the year, 74. It would seem I felt much less self-induced pressure in this match than in the City Am over the weekend.
Match play is without a doubt my favorite form of golf. The intensity and pressure of a one-on-one match like this is so fun. I should have had the match in the bag, being 4UP with five to play. But it’s very hard to not let your brain get in the way of finishing off the match in that position.
My next match is likely against an even better player, a +2.5. He’s human. I hope he brings his C game. 🙂