Monday, June 09, 2008

2008 Niagara Men's Tour - Event Three (Riverview)

I had a couple of days to get the bad scores from Thornhill out of my mind before some weekend golf, which included a round at St. Catharines with the boys on Saturday and a Sunday round at Riverview GC, a course I had never played before, which was hosting the third leg of the Niagara Men's Tour.

The game returned in full force!

I played Saturday with Toast and Harry, along with our guest Dr. Greg K, who is a good buddy of the Toastman. It was a fun round and we could only laugh at Greg, who just couldn't believe how much we needle each other on the course.

The round started innocently enough, as I bogeyed our third hole (the 12th) and doubled the par 3 14th to go +3 through five holes. I started to get molten hot on the next hole, making a nice up and down for par.

Then I went on a run:

#16 - Wedge to 3 feet; BIRDIE
#17 - 5-iron to 15 feet; leave it on the lip; PAR
#18 - 6-iron to 18 feet on the fringe; BIRDIE
#1 - Pitching Wedge to 12 feet; BIRDIE

I'd proceed to barely miss birdie putts on the next three holes as well in an attempt to get into red figures but it was to no avail. I'd bogey the par three 7th and par the last two to shoot a fine 73 (+1) from the back tees, only one shot off my personal best from that deck.

I was the only round in the 70's on Saturday among the 8 guys who teed it up, including our good buddy Gary, who decided to walk off the golf course for the upteenth time this year after only 8 holes. I won big in the skins, hollywoods and in my personal games, taking home $31.00 on the day, a big haul for me this year and one that finally put me on the plus side of the betting ledger for 2008.

On Sunday, I headed to Riverview Golf Club for the third leg of the Niagara Men's Tour. I had a rough start to the year and was in 24th position overall heading into the day. More importantly, my buddy Harry was breathing down my neck in the standings after a respectable top-20 finish in the second event at Grand Niagara two weeks earlier.

I had never played Riverview before and was lucky to draw Frank M from Lookout Point and John R from Beechwood as my playing partners, two vets on tour who played practice rounds earlier in the week at the course.

I also benefitted from teeing off first yesterday, making up for teeing off last at Grand Niagara and being forced to play in a fivesome. No such nonsense yesterday.

It was an exciting round for yours truly.

I started off on the par five first hole by hitting my birdie putt 12 feet past the hole then making the comebacker for par to get any nerves out of the way quickly. I made another solid two-putt par on the second before stiffing a wedge to 3 feet on the par four third. I'd make that and was quickly one under par.

I hit a loose tee shot into the par three fourth shot, hitting 8-iron into the greenside bunker and I'd make bogey, promptly giving back the shot.

The tough par four 5th was next and I hit two tremendous shots to get a birdie putt from only 7 feet, but I'd miss that to stay at even.

I'd make a routine par on the 6th then made excellent up and downs on both #7 and #8 to reach the 195 yard par three 9th, which was playing into a big wind. I'd hit 4-iron about 20 yards long and just miss getting up and down again, instead settling for bogey and a front nine of 38 (+1).

My lack of course knowledge first reared its ugly head on the par four 10th, as I foolishly stepped to the tee without asking about the hole beforehand. I hit a perfect drive but I misjudged the dogleg and I ended up in the trees. I'd punch out to 80 yards, hit a wedge that spun back to 25 feet then MADE THE FRICKIN' PUTT for the awesome par.

I got nailed for my good fortune on the next hole, a treacherous 225 yard, uphill par three that played into a stiff breeze. I hit what I thought was a perfect 3-iron hybrid but it took a crazy hop over the bunker and ended up in the hazard by a foot. I'd make double there and was now +3 on the day.

I had to scramble a bit for par on the short par four 12th and that motivated me to go on a hot streak the likes of which I haven't seen this year.

#13 Par 4 410 yards: Driver, LW to 5 feet - BIRDIE
#14 Par 4 410 Yards: Driver, LW to 15 feet - BIRDIE
#15 Par 5 475 Yards: Driver into trees, punch out, LW to 12 feet - BIRDIE

Oooh baby! Back to even par and I'm FEELING IT, BROTHER!

Up comes the short 133 yard par three 16th. Sounds easy right? Except for the fact that the pin was on the most ridiculous slope you can possibly imagine. It's screaming downwind and I hit a loose gap wedge that hits the left side of the green and bounces way left.

I'm DEAD.

But I hit the most awesome lob shot of the year, the ball trickles next to the hole...and keeps rolling....and rolling...until it finally stops about 12 feet away.

The slope on this green was eerily similar to those found at Thornhill earlier in the week.

I'd leave that par putt short, tapping in for bogey. Ugh.

I'd smartly hit a 4-iron off the 362 yard par four 17th and I was dead center, only 146 yards away. I tried to smooth a 9-iron in there but hit a dead-pull. The ball nailed a tree that protrudes from a greenside bunker and ricocheted straight left onto the 15th tee. I'd take four more to get in the hole from there, making a crushing double bogey.

I somehow resisted the temptation to hit driver on the 310 yard par four finisher, instead nailing another 4-iron dead center. This time, I had only 60 yards left and I hit my best shot of the day, an open faced lob wedge that hit on the front of the green and snuggled up to about a foot and a half.

Sweetness!

I'd tap that in for my fourth birdie in six holes and my fifth of the day to shoot a very satisfying 74 (+2) on the day.

I'd hold the lead with that score until about three quarters of the way through the field, when last year's overall champion Jim B came in one shot better than me after playing with my boy Harris, who shot a stunning (that's one word for it) 94.

Yes, I said 94.

Hey Harry...I beat you BY TWENTY FRICKIN' SHOTS! WTF?!

Oh well...at least he can beat a girl in squash so all is well in his world.

When all was said and done, no one else came in lower than me and I finished in a tie for second place, tying my best ever finish on tour in my five years out there.

I won a one hundred dollar voucher for the finish and jumped from 24th overall to 11th in the process.

It was a great weekend on the links!

1 comment:

  1. That's great going Matt. I had a day once where I birdied 3 out of 4 holes, but I certainly didn't do it 2 days in a row and it was very much off the easy tees of our course. And I picked up 4 birdies in the first 10 holes of a different course when I played the Old Course at St Andrews, but I gave all of them back with interest on the back 9. So I'm glad to hear the game's back - that's an excellent weekend's play right there.

    I don't understand the whole skins and hollywoods thing - how does that all work?

    Well done also on finishing second on the TOUR. I never played in anything like that but I've had good rounds in our club tournaments and, because I normally go out early, I can't sit still and watch people come in to see if they have beat me - I get so worked up my legs stop working. Is that how you felt?

    I'm saying nothing about Harris. He upsets easily.

    Well played, champ.

    David

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