Okay yes, it is the US Senior Open, but still counts as a National Championship. The funny part is the course is in Northern California (Del Paso) which I’ve never played, while the US Open at Chambers Bay, I’ve played many times. I think the Pros’ will be scratching their heads over playing a US Open on a course that used to be a mining quarry, where you have to land shots well away from your intended target. It should make very interesting TV viewing!
Okay back to the Senior Open, on Monday the Olympic Club hosted a qualifier that had 84 pros and amateur vying for a mere 2 spots. Since we just hosted the first ever USGA Four Ball Championship a few weeks ago, the club decided to keep the rough at US Open length, making the course very very tough. I guess Mike Miles, a pro from Southern California didn’t find it too tough as he shot a blazing 66 to easily punch his ticket into the Open.
Having just played in 3 fantastic 4 ball tournaments, at three of the best venues in the World (Spyglass, Whisper Rock, and Nine Bridges in South Korea) with partners that played brilliantly, I was not coming into this qualifier with a lot of confidence. Especially since I was having some injury issues in South Korea. But nobody wants to hear whining and excuses, the most common question asked is just “what did you shoot”. Well I shot 72 on Monday to grab the 2nd spot, while fellow Olympian Mark Sanchez fired a solid 73 to take the first alternate spot. Legendary golfer, Gary Vanier was even for the day with 5 holes to play and slipped on the long par 5 16th hole that also got Jim Furyk in the 2012 US Open at Olympic.
As most of you know, I putt side saddle, which for 15 years was magical for me. My putting was always my best weapon, and the great equalizer for me. Since 2012 I have struggled mightily, and have resorted to an eyes closed approach as to not know when I am making contact with the ball. In a way its very similar to looking at the hole like what Jordan does on occasion. But on this day, the eyes closed approach on these lightning fast greens worked, and without making a few clutch putts down the stretch, it would have been another missed opportunity. You’d think after 40 years of competitive golf, I would not get rattled by the group behind us walking up to our tee box, and watching us hit our shots. On two occasions I hit shots that you’d want to run and hide after hitting. I started on #9 and made two early bogeys, followed by two solid birdies to get back even. On the second hole I made a very solid up and in for par, leaving the toughest stretch of golf to follow 3-8 at Olympic Lake are VERY tough. After waiting on the 212 yard par 3 third hole, I took my 5 iron and hit a dead shank almost hitting the guys on the 4th tee. It was a very embarrassing moment, and lead to an ugly double bogey. SO now I’m plus two with hard holes ahead, its at that moment that something happens, and on occasion I’m able to shake off the disaster that just occurred, and use it to find a deeper focus. With that focus I parred the 4th hole, birdied the tough 5th hole, and then had to make 3 six foot par putts in a row to finish at +1 for the day. I waited for two hours on pins and needles to see if my 72 would hold up, and to my surprise the scores came in higher than I expected. It’s been a long time since feeling that amazing twinge that comes with qualifying for a National Championship. In 2011 I was able to play in 4 National Championships (US Am, US Mid Am, US Senior Open, and British Senior Open). Its been a long dry spell, and I hope to report more to you on my experience as an amateur, playing in a professional major on June 25-28th STAY TUNED
If you’ve got the YIPS, am I mean the bad YIPS, your crazy not to try Side Saddle putting. See my previous Posts on this crazy good technique.