The unusual rains of June continued today as we got hit hard today in the qualifier at Peach Tree CC in Marysville. We could hear the roar of thunder and lightning further north as the rain started to increase in intensity. Peach Tree is a nice course that requires some precision of the tee and some solid iron shots.
My day started like two years ago in this same qualifier as I went birdie, birdie, par birdie. It’s exactly the way anyone would like to start, but the challenge is can you keep it going with either pars or additional birdies. After 6 holes I was -3 and in perfect position to keep a good round going to possible get on of the TWO spots available in this 88 man field. Unfortunately I decided to shoot at the pin on the par three 7th hole a 210 yard par three hole with water short and right. I quick hit my 4 iron fat and right into the Lake and made a VERY ugly double bogey 5 to erase 2 of the birdies I made earlier. The eight hole was a bounce back hole with a birdie to get it back to -2 which I knew would be a decent score on a tough day.
The 9th hole is a short 365 yard par 4 with a generous fairway to hit with a shorter club, with a rescue I rope hooked it left behind a tree and made another ugly bogey and wasted a shot on a birdie hole. The difficulty with these 18 hole qualifiers is that you know you cannot make mistakes with only two spots, and I just threw away the 4 birdies I had made with a closing bogey on 9 for a -1 front.
The tenth hole was yet another mental mistake, hitting a shot over the green to a severe back to front sloping green. I putted from off the back and was NOT a happy camper walking off with yet another bogey on a sub 400 yard hole. Standing even par on the 11th hole was painful having already made 4 birdies on the round. Now the tougher holes were up ahead, especially with the rain pounding on us harder and harder. After a disappointing par on the par five 11th hole, I had a private discussion with my self and decided to quit the internal whining an suck it up and start to play golf again. The 12th hole was very accommodating with a perfect tee shot and a wedge to 3 feet to get back in the red. The next 4 holes where a little more challenging as I was forced to make par saving putts of 6, 8, 5 and 4 feet to keep it at -1 and in the hunt. The 17 th hole is a par three hole playing 177 yards with a lake to the right. Unlike the 7th where I dunked it in the lake for a double, I took a moment and went through the proper pre-shot routine with some focus and breathing. This six iron was very solid and ended 2 feet from the hole for a VERY important birdie 2. The 18th hole a par 5 I played conservative, but tried to get to -3 which I knew in the rain would punch a ticket to Inverness for my first Open. I had a 15 foot putt for 69 that I left a few rolls short and settled for the -2 70.
I was holding my breathe when I walked to the scorers table and saw that the best score in was 70 (two of them). I then knew I had a very good chance to be playing in my 1st US major. Once all cards were turned in, I realized that I had accomplished a dream of mine for over 30 years, to play in a USGA OPEN. Sure it’s the senior open, but to me it’s all the same at this point, and to play back to back weeks in two of the senior majors, British and US….is beyond my wildest imagination.
When playing in these pressure packed situations it imperative that somehow you can slow things down, the speed of the takeaway and slow down the thought process. I did my best to keep in rhythm, slow and steady. I have a lot of work to do on my game for these two events, especially after seeing where my game was today after getting to -3. The plan will combine fitness, golf training , and tightening up some of the loose spokes in my game. My bunker game is extremely weak and needs serious help. The putter has been the savior, and is the reason why I’m enjoying these two USGA metals I won today (one for low amateur, the other for medalist).
Up next, back to playing the college kids in the Monterey City at good ole Del Monte Golf Links.
Stay tuned for more on the OPEN preparation in the next few days