This amateur golf blog will always give you the uncut truth about how I view and report these events to you. It took two post round beers and a two hour nap to get my frame of mind around posting the days events.
I’m sure most of you know the astronomical odds of making a hole in one (13,000-18,000 to 1), now imagine the odds of a double eagle, that’s a 2 on a par 5 hole or a hole in one on a par 4, probably 10X the odds of a hole in one. Now take those odds and imagine the odds of making one on the 18th hole of a major amateur championship. Okay the odds are quite long, but Daniel Sullivan of Pasadena made a double eagle 2 to go from -2 to -5 on the day for a -4 total after a 73 at Spyglass on Monday.
My foursome today consisted of three of the nicest guys imaginable to play golf with- Casey Boyns, Darryl Donovan and Jamie Looper. I love playing with these guys and the last time we were paired together in the first round of the 2009 California Mid amateur in the 1st round I shot one of my better competitive rounds with a 65 at Stevenson Ranch. Today seemed to start off quite similar with putts going in one just about every hole.
Keep in mind we were playing the Blue tees, and the wind was from the south making the par 5’s downwind (4,9,10,12) so to 9 and 10 I had 6 iron into the green for my second shot resulting in birdies. I birdied the tough 5th hole and 7th hole to turn at 32 -4 on the front nine. After another birdie on 10 and a saving par on 11, I was 6 shots clear of Casey in my group and had not made a 5 yet.
Things changed slightly on the par 5 12th hole, after a rescue off the tee and another rescue to the green, my ball was just over the back of the green. After a poor flop to 15 feet, I missed my real 1st putt of the day. After another perfect tee shot on 13 I found my routine starting to change and I began making quick decisions. On 13 I had a straight uphill 6 foot putt for par that started to shake my putting a tad. After my 1st bogey of the day on #13 I was determined to make it my last. A perfect tee shot on #14 left me only 100 yards to clear the front bunker, the shot was uphill and into a gusty breeze. After watching Casey and Darryl come up short of the green, I gave my wedge some extra juice resulting in a shot to the back fringe. Casey made a nice bunker shot and made a great saving par, while I again struggled leaving my first putt 8 feet short resulting in another bogey.
Now the lead (I assumed) was down to 4 shots as Casey was the closest to me in our group. The par three 15th hole was again another poorly played hole where I left my shot out right, chipped to 4 feet and badly missed the putt. After a Boyns par the lead slipped to 3. I’m thinking oh boy here I go again. However I made a solid par on the tough 16th hole, along with Casey making a great 15 foot par save. Things changed on 17 however with Casey missing a shot into the hazard leaving the door wide open to seal the deal. I hit a very solid 8 iron that landed short of the hole and rolled 10 feet past the pin. The putt looked in from the start, but again the ball lipped out low of the hole and I happily went to the 18th tee. At this point I figure to have a 2 or 3 shot lead even if one of the guys ahead shot 69. So after a mediocre drive on 18 I had 227 to the pin and fired a 19 degree rescue at the pin and watched the wind carry the ball into the left bunker, not a good place to be!! I had a straight downhill bunker shot that I ran down off the green. I still felt no worries as I felt a par would leave me at -4 for the event and in good shape. This was not to be the case, as I didn’t even realize at the scorers desk that there was another -4 total for the tournament. I then was told the Mr. Sullivan double eagled the 18th hole to jump from -1 to -4 for the tournament.
Playoffs are always stressful and tough. One bad shot and you lose, one great shot and perhaps you win. After a perfect tee shot on #1 I had 156 to the pin and fired an 8 iron that looked perfect. It landed a bit short and ended up 15 feet left of the hole. The birdie putt looked good, but the grazed the low side of the hole. Daniel had a nice 12 foot uphill chance that he left inches short. Off to #2 we went with the wind blowing slightly behind our backs I took less club to adjust to the adrenaline I was feeling. We both hit nice shots 20 feet from the pin and almost on the exact same line. Daniel was away and missed just low of the hole and had 2 feet for par. I saw how much the putt broke left to right and hit my downhill slider further left and firmer. The putt again looked good until it broke below the hole and rolled a good 4 feet past the cup, exactly where Casey and Darryl had made putts from earlier in the day. I knew this was a straight in putt, but never got comfortable over it and actually backed off it once (something I never do). The second time over it I again felt uncomfortable and pulled it slightly for a missed putt and chance to win the event. Daniel rolled in his 2 foot winning putt and is the 2010 Champion.
Often people ask me why I don’t try the Champions tour qualifier, and that I could possibly win professionally. All I can tell you is that to play golf for money, the pressure MUST be even greater than playing in this wonderful event. When you are -5 after ten holes you need to shoot a 65, not a 70. Both days I finished over par on the incoming holes after having been deep under par. I LOVE this game and I LOVE to compete, and I can honestly tell you that the times I do come out on top are cherished and remembered as every time I have a heartbreaking defeat like today, the next one is always so sweet.
The NCGA provides us with a tournament venue that is hands down the best in the world. These guys come out and volunteer their time so we can compete on these great courses. Remember it takes time and money to organize these events and we are VERY fortunate to be members of this great organization that provides us with such great tournaments. I could never thank the NCGA and it’s volunteers enough for the time and care they invest into these well run events. Even on a tough day I have to reflect and thank those who make all this possible for all of the participants.
Below is the NCGA article and a link to the scores and a great photo gallery that Scott Seward does such a great job putting together. Next up Friday the NCGA Stroke play at the same course, Poppy Hills. I hope to have a hole by hole course guide prior to the start of the event.
If you enjoy this golf blog, share it with a friend and stay tuned. RH
As the NCGA Master Division Championship demonstrated, fortunes in a golf tournament can literally change in the blink of an eye.
Or in the case of champion Daniel Sullivan of Pasadena, by realizing the rarest achievement in golf, a double eagle, on the tournament’s final hole.
Sullivan’s holed 3-wood from 225 yards on Poppy Hills’ 18th hole propelled him from three strokes back to a tie for the lead shared by defending champion Randy Haag of Burlingame in the event for competitors aged 40 or older.
By the mid-point of the final round, the championship appeared to be another coronation for Haag, an 11-time NCGA champion. The Olympic Club member had stated the day with a one-shot lead, but a birdie binge resulted in five birdies in seven holes and a multiple-stroke lead with eight holes to go. But costly bogeys on nos. 13-15 left the door open for the 43-year-old Sullivan’s double eagle, which resulted in a tie at four-under 140.
“I knew coming into the final round that Casey (Boyns, who started the day one behind Haag) and Randy are really good players, so I had 66 in mind,” the champion said. “You don’t expect to make double eagle; I got really lucky.”
The playoff took two holes with Sullivan, the 2009 Santa Barbara County champion, making two pars to Haag’s par and three-putt bogey on the Poppy Hills’ second hole. “I told myself – just hit fairways and greens in the playoff,” Sullivan said. “Make him beat me and give myself a chance.”
The champion is a member of the NCGA through the Association Member program and is the first Association Member to claim an NCGA title. The Brookside CC member in Southern California had previously played in the NCGA Four-Ball.
Haag started the final round in a foursome that collective represented 34 total NCGA and State Amateur titles (Boyns, CordeValle’s Darryl Donovan and Jamie Looper of Oakdale rounded out the foursome).
FOR SCORES AND SOME GREAT PHOTOS USE THIS HYPERLINK BELOW