Sunday, August 05, 2007

2007 Club Championship - Round Two Update

I was on the tee at about 11:00am this morning on cutdown day for the 2007 Club Championship at St. Catharines. I entered the day in a tie for 9th out of the 24 golfers in the open flight but saw that I moved up to 8th when one of the 76's from yesterday had to withdraw due to injury.

So I was inside the cutline to start the day but figured I'd need about a 76 myself on day two to qualify for the final round on Monday.

I didn't have a very good practice session before the round but I wasn't really worried. I felt loose and ready to go.

My first tee shot was very poor - a pull into the fairway bunker. However, I hit a great recovery from 155 yards, hitting it to about 20 feet. I two-putted for par and we were off.

I slipped up on the second hole after nailing a perfect drive. My 8-iron approach sailed just left and I couldn't get up and down, continuing my trend from the day before.

Uh oh...not another one of those days...

Turns out it wasn't.

I made about an eight footer for par on the third hole after finding trouble off the tee then made a nice up and down from just over the back of the par three fourth.

I drove perfectly again on the long par four fifth and again hit my approach slightly left. For the third hole in a row, I made a 5+ footer to save my par.

It got even crazier from there. On the par five sixth, I hit a good drive and solid layup to about 80 yards. I hit my pitch shot a bit fat and was on the front fringe. I nailed the birdie putt at least ten feet past but calmly knocked that in for yet another save.

I was now 'up and down man' according to playing partner Brian.

I did it AGAIN on the par three seventh. The lefts continued as my tee shot went in the greenside bunker but I splashed out to three feet and sunk that for par to stay +1.

I finally hit my second official green on the par five 8th. I hit a huge drive, leaving myself only 208 yards downhill and downwind. My 5-iron was perfect and ended up only 10 feet away. I picked that time to miss my first real putt of the day but I tapped in for my birdie to get back to even on the day.

My 9th hole struggles continued with another weak drive that forced a punch out to the 100 yard marker. I took three to get down from there, making bogey and shooting 37 (+1) on the front.

My poor iron play continued on the back nine and unfortunately, my smoking hot putter started to cool off. I had only 197 yards for my second shot into the par five 10th but made yet another disappointing par. I then hit a horrible tee shot on 11 and had to punch out, ultimately making bogey.

The tough par three 12th saw me hit a 5-iron onto the front collar and I two-putted that for par. I made a nice up and down for par on 13 then three-putted from the back fringe on 14 for the second day in a row to move to +3 on the day.

I hit the most frustrating patch of the day on the 15th when I once again hit my 9-iron approach left, just avoiding the bunker. I ended up missing a four foot par putt for an ugly six and was now thinking I was in tough to make the cut.

I still stayed with my gameplan and hit 4-iron off the par five 16th tee just to keep it in play. I hit 8-iron to the bottom of the hill and my sand wedge third shot ended up 12 feet away but it was a tricky one: a downhill, right to left slider. My putt circled right around the hole and cruelly stayed out. Bah.

The par three 17th is an absolute bear: 222 yards and almost always into the wind. I really don't have a club for this hole. 4-iron usually isn't enough and my 3-iron rescue is usually too much. What I try to do is hit the 4-iron and hope to get the 'member's bounce' into the green.

Today, I yanked it left, like almost every iron shot and found the greenside bunker. I splashed out nicely to 7 feet and hit a great putt but the ball just wouldn't fall. Bogey and now I'm +5.

On the 18th tee, I noticed that a nice run by one of my playing partners, Gerry, had pulled him even with me for the tournament. I figured I'd need to match his 18th hole score if I had any chance to make the cut.

Gerry bombed his drive on the tough par four down the left side and was in great position. My drive drew left of the fairway around the willow tree. I couldn't tell where it ended up from the tee and eventually found that I ran through the fairway bunker onto the downslope of the hill. I had a little maple tree about 15 yards directly between me and the flagstick and about 150 yards in.

I tried to hit a cut shot off the lie to start it left of the tree but hit it dead straight, with the ball coming to rest behind the green off to the left. With the gallery watching, I hit my chip perfectly and watched it roll towards the cup. I raised my wedge as it approached and once again, it cruelly hit the lip and dove out, leaving a tap-in par.

Gerry also made a routine par so we both were in with matching 77s and matching two-round scores of 154.

Fortunately, no one who had come in posted a better score so we were the clubhouse leaders with only 7 golfers left on the course, meaning we both were guaranteed to make the cut, which would be set at the top eight and ties.

It turned out that two guys in the last two groups blew up a bit so Gerry and I find ourselves tied for 6th place going into the final round, ten shots behind leader Bernie, who shot a 73 (+1) to put himself at even through two rounds.

I will play with Gerry (154), Larry (155) and Mike (150), the club champion for two years running in tomorrow's second-to-last group. There are 19 flights in the Club Championship so it's quite the production, that's for sure. Tee times start at 7:30am and run all the way to 12:30, with my group going off at 12:20pm.

I'm also really looking forward to playing with Mike, as I haven't had the privilege of playing with him in some time. I don't have any goals for tomorrow other than to have a good time and try to hit the ball a bit better. Should be a good day.

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