After finishing as runner-up in the British Senior Amateur, I was shocked to learn that I had earned an exemption into the USGA Senior Amateur at Eugene Country Club. I heard its a new exemption for 2018 and beyond. I first learned of this possibility on the plane back from London when I saw my good pal David Nelson. He said I have some good news for you, and told me I was now exempt into the USGA Senior Am. I honestly thought he was playing a very bad prank on me, until the next day when I received the exemption email from the USGA.
I WAS THRILLED, as I felt I had a decent chance to play well in Eugene. Of course I had a tournament right after getting back from the UK starting on Monday with me arriving back into the USA on Saturday afternoon. Only a small problem occurred, my golf clubs did not make it on my flight somehow, despite checking in over 2 hours early.
I was promised I’d have my clubs delivered Sunday evening, as I was going to drive up to Winchester Country club for the NCGA Valley Amateur that Monday morning for a 1:00PM tee time. When the clubs didn’t arrive by midnight I knew I was in trouble. I woke early on Monday and started calling the baggage delivery service, finally getting someone to answer at 8:30 AM. They informed me that the clubs were to be delivered that afternoon. My only option was to drive the opposite direction in rush hour traffic over to Burlingame by the SF airport, and then head north in heavy Monday traffic through traffic over the bay bridge and east towards the gold country of California.
I wasn’t expecting much after my 5 hour drive, but for some reason my back felt relaxed, and I seemed to have a full range of motion. I like most everyone did not see a 66 possible that day on this golf course, but my 7 birdies, and one lone bogey gave me a tight two shot lead over my good Pal Tony Padilla heading into the last day. My first error was to commute back all the way home to Orinda, to stay, when we had the morning tee times the next day. The second error earlier was being short Tesla stock, as I thought their earnings would be lower than expected and had me sitting in a short position as I played that infamous Tuesday when Elon decided to Tweet (Considering taking Tesla private at $420, funding secured) that I first saw on day 2 when I was even par on the 9th hole. With Tesla skyrocketing I was sick to my stomach, and couldn’t concentrate on golf.
By the 10th hole they had halted trading on Tesla and I was in utter shock, at what was going on while I was trying to win a major golf tournament. My back nine started with a bogey on the 10th hole, while the others in the lead group struggled as well. By the 12th tee I was 4 shots ahead, and with a good drive on 12 I felt I could stumble in and hopefully still win. What a horrible attitude to have, try to hang onto a lead, that you’ll never succeed at doing. On the 12th hole with wedge to the green I pulled my shot left of the green, then left my first putt short of the green and then 3 putted for a double. LEAD DOWN TO TWO.
I somehow scraped a par putt in on the 13th hole, while the others made birdie. I then got some room with a par on 14th and a birdie on the tough 15th hole over water. But again the next two holes I missed the greens with sand wedge, and made a ugly bogey, and a saving par on the 17th hole. Mark Morgan and I were tied going to the easily reachable par 5 18th hole. Hitting last I cranked a drive out past the guys in my group by 30 yards and had a 6 iron to the green. I felt I needed to step on it a bit, which was completely unnecessary. I big over the top rope hook resulting in a very ugly bogey left me two back, and tied with Tony P for second place. This was one of those VERY miserable days where everything goes quite poorly and then some!!
I bailed on my short position the next day, taking a massive loss, and now await participating in the class action law suit that awaits ole Elon. It blows my mind that this guy would spout off like this, and then later so, oh going private is to distracting. What an asshole, from once upon a time a fan of his. I’ll take my lumps, but as you all may or may not remember I have recommended two stocks on this golf blog. I recommended ID Watchdog at $0.10 and it went to $0.40 when they were acquired by Equifax a year ago. And then a year ago I STRONGLY recommended LifeVantage at $3.25 a share and today it hit a high of $13.29 or almost 400% in one year. The shorting Tesla is only about having trading action, its not investing, its just fills a void for us action junkies that love volatility.
My next stock pick will probably be the best one I will ever give you, and you’ll get it in the next few posts, but for now, its back to golf.
My next decision was to wether to play in both the NCGA Amateur at Spyglass (I’m defending champion) or withdraw as the practice rounds on the USGA Senior are that Thursday and Friday (semis on Thursday and finals on Friday) I decided to play in the NCGA Match play, reaching the finals on Friday against my good friend and nemesis Tony Padilla. Tony plays his best when we are going at it head to head, and this day at Spyglass was no different. He had his A game, and I was at a B- at best. My putting sucked, and I could never put any pressure on him. The only hole I won was when Tony 3 putted the 15th hole to go 3 up with 3 to play. He bounced back with a birdie on the toughest hole on the course #15.
I bounced out of Spyglass and drove to SFO to catch a 4:00 PM flight to Eugene, arriving at the course at 6:00 the officials let me fly around the course in a golf cart and play a few holes golf. Saturday of course I got one of the early times 7:20 AM and felt very unrested. On top of that I was paired with one of the most famous guys on the planet, Jimmy Dunne playing in his first USGA event. So there were lots of people, TV cameras and photographers. I was not driving the ball particularly well, and was missing badly left and right off the tee. However once I had any kind of clear shot to the green, I took advantage of it and made birdies and pars. I three putted our 18th hole (the tough 9th hole at 445 yards) to finish at even par 72. I knew that Sunday afternoon could be rough if I didn’t straighten out me tee shots.
I was equally as wild off the tee on Sunday, and struggled mightily to keep my ball somewhere in between the tree line. This is a beautiful course with huge trees, and very penal rough. I held it together and made putts I had no business making. On our final hole, before I teed off, Jimmy Dunne said “hit the damm ball in the fairway” and for some reason that worked for me, and I stripped on down the middle, onto the green and into the cup for a closing birdie and a 73 or 145 total getting me the 10th seed. But I knew I was a fraud with all the errant tee shots, and spending some time on the range adjusting my posture and take away.
I drew USGA Legend and US Walker Cup past captain Buddy Marucci, and went to battle with only a small arsenal of shots. The match went back on forth with either of us hitting crisp great shots, especially off the tee. My back started to spasm in a place it had never spasmed before (in the middle). But finally after a very ugly 17th hole I prevailed going one up with one to go. Again somehow on 18 I was able to get the ball in the fairway with wedge left. I tugged my wedge shot just enough for it to roll to the fringe leaving me a 30 foot birdie putt. Buddy was in fairly tight at 12 feet from the pin. My first putt with eyes closed of course was stubbed half way to the hole, followed by a poor putt low of the hole. So my chance to end this match on the 18th hole was blown by a quick hit wedge left, followed by two poor putts.
Off to sudden death and back to the first tee. I appreciated Buddy’s sense of humor when he said on the tee that it certainly wasn’t our finest hour. That continued in sudden death, although on the first hole I had another chance to win, when Buddy had an 8 foot slider to save par and extend the match. On the second hole, a long par 3, I made my 4th consecutive bogey on the hole and dodged a bullet when Buddy missed a 6 foot par putt.
But it all came to an end when I double crossed a wedge into the 3rd hole leaving me an impossible up and in, I conceded Buddy’s 3 foot par putt, and was happy to dash off to the airport for the last flight back to SFO.
In hind sight did I sacrifice the USGA Senior Am by playing in the NCGA Stroke Play, perhaps I would have gone deeper into the match play rounds, but certainly wasn’t playing well enough to knock off the likes of Jeff Wilson that was many under par in most of his matches. Match play is always how you play vs your opponent and yes you can catch a guy on an off day. But that is a guy like Jeff shooting around par, not +4 or +5.
This month of August had some super highs (runner up in the Senior Amateur) and some clunker lows, but in the end it reveals the weaknesses in my game. With fatigue my long game goes from a weapon to a liability. My putting worsens as the pressure goes up. I found myself moving all over the place even putting with my eyes closed. In the end I have to be thankful as hell that I get the opportunity to compete and play in the greatest Senior Amateur events in the world. But with that said, I am competitive and mediocrity is unacceptable. So you like me always have a choice- either work harder and get better, be happy be mediocre or quit.
Today I chose to work harder and not let my body break down as badly as it did during this 7 days of golf (even riding a cart which I hate to do).
Stay tuned for the STOCK PICK OF A LIFETIME, and more on golf.