On a blustery and cool morning the team of Darryl Donovan and Jim Knoll defended their 2010 title in grand fashion on Sunday with an amazing -9 63. On a day when winds were gusting to 20-30mph the course played tough with high ruff and tricky pin positions. After a slow start with 5 straight pars, the Donovan/Knoll team got hot with 4 straight birdies to finish off the front nine at -4. After birdies at 11 &12 the real fun began with an unlikely chip in from a steep hill by Mr. Knoll on the 14th hole. After two more pars on 15 and 16, Jim Knoll again chipped in from just off the green on the 17th hole followed by a solid birdie on the last by Darryl to cap off an impressive nine under par 63.
I must admit I was very impressed with the condition of the course, especially the long and penal rough. The greens were smooth and fast, making the course a good test!
I must admit I was a bit jealous as Darryl is usually my best ball partner in several of the major NCGA events, but this event teams a senior player 55+ with a 40+ yr old player and the Donovan/Knoll team is a lethal one. It was great to see Darryl continue his improved play as he continues to work back to his form of the early 2000’s when he won both the California State Amateur and Northern California Amateurs. After a long layoff Darryl is not only driving the ball long and straight, but more importantly he is MAKING key putts.
Last year Darryl went to a unique putting combo of using a putter where he can putt belly puts outside 5 feet and then go side saddle on the putts inside 5 feet. His confidence is now soaring as he is making all the key putts he once struggled with. I can tell you first hand this game is tough enough without missing most your critical short putts. If you’ve gotten to the point where the “electricity” is so unbearable, there are options. The most popular seems to be the claw grip, or using a fat grip, but there are other options that most players don’t consider. Putting side saddle has many advantages, and a few disadvantages. For starters you are looking straight down your line, enabling you to really see a good line. The difficulty is the distance feel, which is why Darryl only saddles his putts from short range.
Coming up next weekend is another Northern California Major, the well run Alameda Commuters held at the Alameda Golf Complex. As always there will be a strong field in this years event that is contested over two weekends with a cut after 36 holes to the low 40and ties.
Stay tuned for more coverage next week