I know this is a re-occurring theme that perhaps you’re tired of reading about, but what the hell else can I write about when I wake up screaming in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about ONE HOLE that owns me.
The epic and short 18th hole at Olympic, which measure all of only 350 yards, was again the culprit in missing an opportunity to be a 9 time Olympic Club Champion. I had two chances on this hole in the final match to defend this title which means the world to me. But that darn little hole has my number, dating back almost 20 years ago when I lost the club championship on this hole after coming to it all square in four 36 hole final matches, and all final losses ended on this hole of sudden death. In all four matches, after a tee shot in the fairway all 4 times with my opponent in the rough, and in two cases having to chip out sideways. And then of course there was the biggest letdown of all in the 2007 US Amateur where I arrived at 18 all square with Derek Fathauer, and on global ESPN embarrassed myself by making an ugly 6 to lose one down. Unfortunately I don’t have any exciting success stories to share with you about this hole, other than its an amazing finishing hole, no water hazard, its not 480 yards long, the trouble left should be out of play, and the tee shot is only part A of success on this hole. The second shot to a very narrow and sloping green from back to front, provides a challenge even for the best players in the world, as either McDowell or Furyk were able to make anything happen on their final hole of the US Open in 2012.
BUT the the troubles on the 18th hole are not limited to only the OC 18th this year, I had to finish off my 2013 season with a complete blunderous melt down on the 18th hole of the Stocker Cup, where in the last round I found myself -6 going to the 18th hole. I decided to challenge the fairway bunker to have a shorter shot into the green, despite being into the wind and needing a downhill carry of about 280 yards. I was nervous and I took a mighty rip at this final drive of the 2013 season, and to my delight watched this missile heading at and over the bunker leaving me 150 yards to a front pin. I suffered over the hard 8 iron of the solid 7, but because of a severe false front chose the 7 iron to make sure I found the green leaving me a chance for birdie and possibly a win in the event. A par would have forced Kevin Marsh to shoot under par to beat me, little did I know that John Sawin was tearing it up. So back to the ugly 7 iron that was pulled left and short sided to a downhill chip, I tried to flop it onto the green onto the flat spot, but came up short and watched the ball roll off the front edge. From there I miss hit my putt from off the green leaving me a 5 foot bogey putt which I missed badly. Not a great way to end the year, a par would had me alone in second, in stead I finished T3.
I am not complaining about these high finishes, what I am trying to figure out is why I am all of a sudden more nervous than ever on the last hole in these events that I have competed in hundred of times?
How can I improve on this? Well the answer is simple, I am not prepared mentally or I think even physically for the end of the round. I expend all my energy on the earlier holes and by the time I am coming down the stretch I am not mentally or physically strong. In my next Post I will describe what I will do to change that for the 2014 season.
Again I am in AWE with what Mike McCoy achieved as the 2013 US MID AM champion and will be at Augusta in April for the 2014 Masters, what a dream come true, it can happen and Mike works as hard on his game as anyone. It takes hard work people, this game will kick your ass if you get lazy (or if you take rain deer antler spray and get caught)
Work hard in the off season and you will see results in the new season, but start now!!!