After round one of the 2011 NCGA 4 Ball event played now annually at Bayonet in Seaside, my partner Darryl Donovan and I knew that we had little chance to win this years event and defend our title after an opening round 70 leaving us 5 shots back of two groups at -7 65. We however always believe we can shoot a very low score if we are both making significant contributions. Today was such a day, as we rallied hard to come from way back to defend our 2010 win here last year.
The action started on the 3rh hole where Darryl made a 5 foot putt for birdie, after I saved par on the short 5th hole, I followed that up with birdies on 6 & 7 to get to 3 under on the front. We discussed what we thought we’d have to shoot on the back nine to make a run at the title. We agreed that 6 under would put us in good position. After a good drive on the par 5 tenth hole I hit a rescue to 6 feet and started the back off with a birdie. Darryl followed that with a birdie from 4 feet on #11. On 12 we made a good par from 40 feet away, followed by another par save on the tough 13th hole by Darryl. On 14 I hit an eight iron to 8 feet and missed the chance to get to -4 for the back nine and get into serious contention. Unfortunately we had to save a par on 15 and on 16 is where things got crazy.
With the tee all the way back, this is probably NOT a driver hole as both the bunkers come into play on this 400 yard par 4 hole. But with the need to make birdies as we were only 8 under par for the event, we knew we needed birdies to have a chance. I started us off with a drive in the right bunker and Darryl followed me in it. Darryl missed the green badly short and right, while I hit the lip of the bunker and barely got the ball out of the bunker. From 132 yards uphill to the pin I hit a 9 iron to 12 feet above the hole. Darryl was unable to save par so it was up to this 12 foot downhill slider to keep from making our first bogey of the day which would have eliminated even the slightest hopes we had. I stayed down on the putt and it went in (followed by my first fist pump of the event). On 17 I hit a 6 iron over the back of the green and was left with a tricky uphill flop shot out of some very high rough. My NEW Terry Rowles chipping technique was at its best as I flopped the ball perfectly onto the putting surface and watched the ball roll into the hole.
Now at -9 for the event, we knew it would take a birdie or eagle on the 18th hole to have a ligit chance to defend. But unfortunately we both hit very poor high and right drives into the right trees. We found my ball in the pine straw, but never found Darryl’s ball which must have stayed in a tree. So now I was faced with a shot off the dirt that I needed to aim 100 yards right of the green, in an attempt to get the ball back in play and somewhere near the green. I hooked a three metal, which came to rest on a slope and in heavy rough. With the pin on the right side and needing a miracle, I paced off the exact yardage to the one small spot that would work . After a 40 yard flop to the perfect spot, I saw my ball accelerate towards the pin and hit the hole going very very fast. It hit the pin hard enough to slow it down and keep it on the level where the pin was. After sizing up my 20 footer I calmly walked up and said okay last chance. With a pure roll and a good read, we watched as the ball plowed into the center of the cup for the closing birdie to get to -10 for the event.
We then sat and waited as the groups ahead of us came in until we heard that we were in a tie for first at -10 and heading to a playoff with our good friends Casey Boyns and Bill Moore. The playoff was similar to our finish, sloppy golf until on the green, as Darryl drained an uphill 40 foot putt, forcing Casey to make from 20 feet to avoid defeat. Casey is the one guy that will usually make that 20 footer, but this time he didn’t and we somehow emerged with this sweet win that was unexpected, but very very sweet.
It’s hard for me to believe the last 4 days of golf coming off the Olympic Club Championship to taking the NCGA Master 4 ball in such a fashion. The game is great, and the game can be cruel, I know that for every victory, there are many disappointments, these only make the victories all that sweeter.
Today I’ve started my most aggressive nutritional plan ever, and I expect my body to react in a very favorable way. Through all the travels of the summer, I’ve not eaten the way I should, have not worked out as much as I’d like, which has taken it’s toll on my body. I am reluctant to show you pictures of the body…but I may to illustrate the BEFORE and AFTER effect of this diet combined with the most aggressive exercise program I’ve ever done. This is all so I have a CHANCE to maintain some of the things I’ve been able to do the past three years. I plan to share all of this with you, along with more short game video with Terry Rowles, along with an extended look at what to expect at the 2012 US Open at the Olympic Club.