I wish someone would tell me how its done. But because I am still in such a great mood after bombing out in the Senior Open qualifier I will write a bit about it. After playing in 4 consecutive Senior British Opens, and making the cut in the last three, and being Silver Medalist in 2010 & 2011, I have sung to the depths of great doubt and fear about my game.
I think we all have a self-destruct button some where inside of us, and we don’t necessarily have complete control over it. Before it seems I had control over my game, but now my game is running scared. In the qualifier at Hillside I needed to shoot 3 over par to qualify for the Senior Open. Well Hillside is NOT an easy course and hosted the Amateur (British) in 2011. Every tee shot has BIG trouble left and right, and lakes and hazards everywhere. Narrow fairways and a railway running right to the left of #1 and #2. So what happened, I was pleasantly cruising to #6 a tough hole at level par, after a huge drive and wedge to 20 feet, things went awry fast. Since my new style of putting is not only Side Saddle (face on) since 1997, but now to avoid anticipating the hit, I putt with my eyes closed.
Sone days it works, and some days it doesn’t, and this was a day when it was a disaster. I had a slight 20 footer on #6 downhill and not that fast, left it 3 feet short and then wiggled the follow through of the putt and made an ugly bogey. I had short birdie putts at 7 & 8 inside 10 feet that both lipped out. On #9 again 20 feet for birdie, left 2.5feet short followed by another miss. Plus 2 on the front still had me in the hunt, I knew the scores would be high, but I shouldn’t have been over par on the front, and I should have had a large cut cushion. but the reality was I didn’t and I knew it. On #10 I again had a short par putt that grazed the hole, followed by a short birdie putt at #11 that again missed. It when this happens you start to feel like you won’t make anything, so you better not miss a shot. On 12 after a perfect drive and 9 iron to this tough hole, I completely melted down, with my 1st four putt since Stevenson Ranch in April. It came at the WRONG time as it put me +5 and over the cut line for sure. I came back with a great birdie on 13 (the second hardest hole on the course) followed by a solid par on 14. On 15 again I had 5 feet for birdie to go 3 over, but missed again. Thinking I was perhaps out of it at +4 I was careless at the long uphill par three and again 4 putted to end the dream of playing in a major in 2013. At #18 I hockeyed it back and forth for a triple bogey 7, for a cool 81. Devastated, I sat and wondered what happened as I say 76 play off for one spot in the tournament.
So that what happened, so the bigger question is what do I do now about it? The truth is I’ve gotten lazy, I don’t practice enough, I don’t work out enough, and I have this self-distruct mode going on deep down, maybe it allows me to deal with these disappointments. But how long can you play in event after event with such poor results before you want to hang it up. I’ve tasted the sweet taste of success, maybe not like what Phil did last weekend, but on a much smaller stage, that cool aide taste pretty good. I am not sure when I will play again, or even want to practice, now I am floating about in Europe thinking about what is next. I will follow this post with another post after I collect my thoughts…but stay tuned for it in a few minutes.