To those of you that read this blog, I must apologize for my absence. I guess when you’re in a slump, it’s hard to continue to write negative things. Most of my past posts were all about my putting woes, lack of passion and drive. It’s been very difficult to go from the highs of 2011, to the lows of 2012/13.
When you go to an event not knowing if your going to putt looking at the hole or the ball makes it impossible to be competitive. Last week after discussing my situation with my Golf GURU Terry Rowles (firstname.lastname@example.org) who oh by the way is the best instruction available for all aspects of you game including physical training (YES a work out routine). Terry suggested I go to the putting green and just tell myself out loud that I am getting up to this 40 footer and I am going to roll this to the hole. When I started doing just that I was amazed, I had tried everything to get rid of the long distance putt yips, and Monday in the qualifier they were gone. Thank you Terry!!!
This game is crazy mentally, the difference between a tour player and a mini tour player can be miniscule. The desire to succeed must burn deep and long, combined with crazy good hand eye coordination and a work ethic. Those willing to make that sacrifice will ultimately come out on top.
My past 12 months have not be committed to practice and a good workout routine, many life distractions have taken over my drive, and passion to work hard on my game. Recently I have tried to regain that passion and drive, but its been a real up and down road back. Wednesday’s local US Open qualifier was a small step in the right direction, but the round was filled with many highs and lows. I started on the 10th hole an uphill dogleg right that can play tough. I need a great chip shot and putt to avoid starting with a bogey 6. The 11th hole proved to be a good trigger for me, with a good drive and putt for birdie, I felt a good start was critical in this 18 hole qualifier.
After a solid drive on the 12th hole, I had a 9 iron to a front right pin, I have had some troubles with these shots recently, and lack the confidence to feel like they are on auto-pilot. The result was a shank, way right, and almost in the hazard. I was lucky to make a bogey on this hole. My bounce back was the tough 13th hole playing 205 into a breeze, after a solid 4 iron to 20 feet, again I made a crucial putt to get back in the red at -1. I held that until the 18th hole where I three putted to shoot one over on the back nine. The front nine (which was actually my back nine) has some tough holes, but 1 and 2 are holes you can make birdie on, instead I went par, bogey and stood now at 2 over par, I knew that 2 over had zero chance of qualifying, so I decided to play the last 7 holes at -3. The shot to #3 was the best of the day on this tough par three hole playing at about 225 yards with a lake on the right and guarded by bunkers in the front. My new 22 degree Adams rescue landed on the green and rolled to three feet. I miss read, and I settled for a disappointing par. The next two holes I went birdie eagle, the eagle was a putt from off the green about 40 feet away that tracked all the way in. I saved par on the next two holes, and had a birdie chance on my 17th hole (#8) and a long two putt on my 18th hole left me with a one under par 71, which has always made this qualifier at Half Moon Bay. But on this benign day the scores came in lower than usual, and when all were in the 71 finished in 2nd, but with 6 at that score we had a 6 for 4 playoff starting on the 10th hole.
Two groups of 3
I was the first to tee off, with quite a gathering watching and my heart pounding for the first time in a long while, I was able to rope a fade around the corner and have a chance at the green. The other two guys hit lay up shots within 100 yards of the green. I went for the green with my 3 metal, and hit a quality shot onto the left fringe. Fast forward, Mr. Parr made a twenty footer for birdie, I two putted for birdie and the third Tim also made his 4 footer for birdie. The second group of three had two players make 12 and 15 footers for birdie, with only one player making a par, and being eliminated. We moved to the tough 16th hole, which is tight, and has a hazard in front of the green. I took a deep breath while again my heart was pounding, and striped a drive down the left side of the fairway, leaving only a half wedge into this tough sloped green. The other two players were in trouble, and most likely going to make bogey. Again Mr. Parr made a 25 foot par putt to punch his ticket into the sectionals. Unfortunately Tim was the only player to make bogey and ended in the 1st alternate slot. I have never witnessed anything like this playoff before EVER. For 5 guys to make birdie on a pretty tough par 5 hole was remarkable. I was thrilled to have been a part of that playoff, and to feel the pressure again in an important situation.
SO NOW WHAT?
On June 3rd I will need to walk and play 36 holes at Big Canyon CC in Newport Beach, for most likely 4 spots into the US Open. I’ve played in a US Senior Open and 4 British Senior Opens, but in this sectional qualifier I am 0-15 since I was in college in 1980 when I played in my 1st sectional at La Jolla CC. How will I finally get into a US OPEN, as the oldest amateur to ever qualify. GOOD QUESTION, I will need to play the best 36 holes of my life most likely. I will prepare like crazy, be rested and mentally ready for the opportunity of a lifetime.
It will be best if I think about only one shot at a time, which is easier said than done. The qualifier will have some of the best pro’s and amateurs in the world competing for these 4 spots, which will require me to focus all that mush more on what I am doing. Having played recently with several of the Cal players Max Homa and Michael Weaver, I know how incredibly talented these young players are, the bar keeps going up every year, as the players get better and better.
I look at this as yet another life experience that I am so lucky to have, one to remember and one to work hard for. I will keep you posted!