I have done a VERY poor job writing about some of the best golf on the planet, that golf you’ll find in the UK. Ok the foods not the best, but just about everything else is incredible for those of us that love to compete in the toughest of conditions, or even anyone that has an appreciation for where this crazy game was first started.
Many wonder how I can spend over a month on the road, chasing the dream of perhaps winning a major tournament like the Senior Amateur. And yes after one round at Formby Golf Club I was tied for the lead. And again during round two I held the lead up until the 15th hole, were I made a very ugly 9. I’ll spare you the details, just know that most of it was mental, and things always happen fast. I slipped to T11 after round two, and again slipped to T16 after the final and last round. It was not a very satisfying last 22 holes, but I hope to make better decisions this week in the Open.
The good news is my good friend and occasional best ball partner Chip Lutz was victorious in a three man playoff, with another friend of mine Brady Exber. These guys have both won this event in the past (Chip twice). In returning back to the 18th hole, both Chip and Brady hit good tee shots, and avoided the deep bunkers (The third player in the playoff was not as fortunate). After Brady left his birdie attempt short from 30 feet, Chip hit a very firm, but accurate putt heading for the hole. This putt rattled all around the cup, and fell to the bottom. I WISH I had video footage of the 4 foot leap in the air with fist held high. What a way to win, and again shows why Chip is such a great champion!!
Unfortunately for Brady, he did not know where he stood in the tournament on the 18th green. He had a 40 foot birdie attempt roll 4 feet by the hole, and then took little time over this putt that would have given him the championship. After he turned his card in, I told him that he had a one shot lead going into 18. HE WAS SHOCKED, as he thought he was two shots back of Chip, and not one ahead. Chip uncharacteristically three putted the 15th hole, and followed it up with another bogey on the short par three 16th hole. Brady saw chips ball on the green on the par 5 17th hole and assumed he was there in two shots, which was not the case. I am not sure what lesson there is to learn here, but I personally believe on the last hole of a tournament, you NEED to know where you stand. I felt sad for Brady, but certainly happy for my pal Chip, who in the end, made the clutch putt to take this prestigious title.
Now we are at the USGA Senior Open after one of the worst travel days in my life in getting here. This years Open is being held at Scioto in Columbus Ohio, where Jack Nicklaus learned to play golf. Scioto is polar opposite to Formby, with one exception, you need to drive the ball VERY straight at both venues.
I plan to show some photos of Scioto, and write more about this great course. But my initial impression is it is VERY VERY TOUGH!!!
The USGA has gone out over their tips (a skiing term) with this set up. You cannot get a ball onto the green from the rough, like you could at Del Paso last year. Chipping around the greens is pure guess work. The grass is going in many directions, making it impossible to judge the amount of energy needed to hit a good chip/flop.
I am not sure what the final set up will look like until tomorrow at 7:40 when I tee off on #10. There are many great amateurs in the field, and of course the best Senior golfers in the world. I had the pleasure to play two holes with the current Senior Open Champion Roger Chapman, and was VERY impressed with a 5 iron he hit into the 8th hole that was about the purest struck ball I’ve ever seen. He followed it up with a very pure 7 iron on #9.Those of you able to place a wager on this event, I suggest you make it on Roger!!
The cut in this event will be the top 60 and ties, and my early prediction will be that 7 or 8 over will be the cut, as opposed to +5 last year.
More coming from the USGA SENIOR OPEN live here from Columbus Ohio, a very nice city!!
Stay tuned!!Number 17 a 200 yard downhill par three to a VERY NARROW green. Many tough holes on this beautiful course!