Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Good Start to the Men's Tour

The Niagara Men's Tour's first tournament is a two-round event and the first round took place on Saturday afternoon at Lookout Point GC in Fonthill, Ontario.

As indicated in my previous post, the event doubles as a qualifier for 40+ individuals who are looking to join the 30 players, myself included, who are exempt due to finishing in the top 30 last year.

It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon but temperatures were around 50 degrees and the strong, northerly winds played havoc on everyone, which meant extremely high scores.

I had to do some scrambling early in the round. My drive off the beautiful opening hole drifted into some trees right of the fairway. I smartly pitched out to about 70 yards and my wedge into the green ended up six feet away. I was able to coax that home for par.

No different on number two, a shortish par three. I hit a knockdown eight-iron about 15 yards over the green but I hit a fantastic chip shot to about three feet. Made it for another par.

I just couldn't keep it up though. I sliced my drive on the par five third into the adjacent fairway and my attempted recovery shot didn't clear the trees up near the green, leaving me with a tough wedge over the pines. I got the ball up but didn't put enough steam on it, leaving me just right of the very narrow green. I opened up the face of my wedge but duffed the chip and ended up making an ugly double bogey seven.

I hit my first two good shots on the longish par four fourth but three-whacked for bogey. On the par three fifth, I once again misjudged the wind and airmailed my tee ball about 20 yards over the green. I hit another decent lob wedge but three putted AGAIN for double to go +5 through five holes.

I somehow kept my composure...

I creamed my drive on the par four sixth and had a little 9 iron into the biarritz green, with the pin cut on the top shelf. I hit it to within about 12 feet and knocked the sucker in to move back to +4.

The cool par five seventh features a green that looks like it's completely tilted due to a heavily sloped fairway. I left myself a 30-yard pitch for my third shot and hit it to about four feet. I made that for my second consecutive birdie and I was now only three over.

I made an excellent two-putt par on the uphill par three eighth, which was playing fiercely downwind with the pin about three steps on the front and came to the par five ninth. There, I boomed a drive to the 200 marker and hit a five iron approach onto the back of the green. With only about 20 feet for eagle, I had visions of somehow going out in 37 shots despite being five over after five. Turns out I was thinking too far ahead...I rammed the eagle effort five feet past and missed the comebacker to make a very disappointing par. Bah!

I made a routine par on the tough downhill par four tenth but got tricked by the wind once again on the par three 11th. 197 yards into the wind, I pulled out a four iron and nailed it literally twenty yards long. I'm currently playing with some TaylorMade R7 TP irons (demos from the golf club) and I am having a hard time gauging distances with them thus far. I ended up making a pretty good bogey there but made a huge mental error on the par five 12th.

A great drive left me with about 245 yards to the flag, with rests up on a plateau above the fairway. Holding a rescue club in my hands, I decided that it was a stupid play with pretty much no chance to reach the green into the wind so I pulled a nine-iron and layed up. I've played the course about ten times but completely forgot that there was a creek that ran across the bottom of the fairway about 100 yards from the green.

Of course, my ball ended up in there and I choked my way to another double bogey.

I bogeyed the tough par four 13th and then settled down somewhat. I made a routine par on 14 and then holed a bunker shot FOR PAR on the 15th after getting into trouble off the tee. I barely missed birdies on both 16 and 17 and ended up bogeying 18 when I made the huge mistake of going long on the heavily sloped green.

That gave me a hard-fought 80 on the day.

Turns out that was good enough for a tie for seventh on the day! The scores, as indicated, were extremely high so I'm sitting pretty heading into round two, which takes place Sunday afternoon at Peninsula Lakes. I'll be playing with last year's Tour Champion so I'm pretty pumped about that too.

If you're interested, check out the results at the Niagara Men's Tour
official website.

My buddy Harry unfortunately stumbled badly, shooting 95 and he will be in tough to qualify, as he isn't exempt for this year. I think he'll need a score around 80 to have a shot and if he plays like he did on Sunday at the club, he'll be just fine. Just keep grinding Harris...every shot counts!

I'll have a preview up later this week regarding the event at Pen Lakes.

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