There is no easy way to deal with the death of a family member, but in my being on the golf course has enabled me to better deal with just life in general.
Having not competed in many weeks, no practice, no gym work and a weakened spirit, I was not expecting much on Sunday in my 1st round match in the Olympic Club Championship. I was exempt from qualifying being the 2018 Olympic stroke play champion, keeping me out of the tough qualifier where about 70 very good players were vying for 14 match play spots.
As it usually works out, the one guy in the 9 for 5 playoff I did not want to play in the first round was John Jennison whom recently won the USGA Mid Am qualifier with a smooth 66 at PeachTree Country Club.
The only thing good about a long layoff is my body is not sore, the flip side of that is perhaps my body is out of sync. I wasn’t sure what to expect playing in perfect weather conditions on a VERY tough Olympic Lake course that had firm and speedy greens, with more than usual long rough. My match against John got off to a very eery similar start to when I played Derek Father when he hit the tree off the 1st tee and conceded the hole without me having to hit another shot. But with John I did need to play the hole and a par was good enough to go one up.
The second and sixth holes I won with a par and birdie to go 3 up, followed by a winning birdie on #7 by John. I regained my 3 up advantage on the 8th hole with a par, while losing it back on #9 with a bad bogey after only having a wedge left into the green. John made a solid birdie on #10, and it now was game on. On #11 John again made a great par after a rope hooked drive. On # 12 I was able to nail a birdie putt that got me back 2 up, followed by what may be one of the worst match play holes I’ve ever played. I hit a great six iron to a back right pin. John hit the right tree off the tee and had no shot at the pin. He left himself a 40 foot par putt. I was just on the back fringe, but decided to chip my shot to put some spin on it. The downhill shot was a lot faster than I anticipated and I knocked it 8 feet past the hole. John 2 putted for a bogey 4, leaving me a chance to go back 3 up with a par. My uphill par putt was hit with my eyes closed and I knocked it 2 feet past. Although I was kinda surprised that John didn’t give me the come backer. I took a little time on this 2 footer, and over it didn’t feel that comfortable. I pushed it and it lipped out to my utter disgust. But that is match play, crazy things happen.
I did bounce back nicely with a winning birdie on the tough 14th hole, and again on 15 had a makable birdie putt that was slick downhill. After two putts for a halve on the hole I went to the tough 16ht hole playing 609. After 3 perfect shots I was left with a straight 4 foot putt with no break for the win. And of course I had to add extra drama by missing this very easy putt. Before I hit the putt I did notice that John had already taken his hat off in anticipation of me making this very easy putt.
The 17th hole was filled with some drama as I hit a horrible 2nd shot going for the green in 2, and was left with a long bunker shot out of the left bunker to a middle left pin. By far the best shot of the day for me, my bunker shot almost went into the hole and rolled 3 feet away. After John missed his birdie putt the match was over. In the end I needed to play very solid golf under extreme pressure to beat a very good player.
The next day, today I was unsure how I would follow up this round at the OC with the first round today in the NCGA Mid Am four ball at Poppy Hills.
For how the day went, check out the link below.
STAY TUNED FOR FINAL RESULTS