Sunday, August 03, 2008

Club Championship - Round One Recap

It was a story of two distinct nines in the opening round of the 2008 Club Championship at St. Catharines for me yesterday morning.

I was really solid to start. Perfect 4-iron off the short par four opener, followed by a wedge to 15 feet. I'd barely miss and tap in my par.

I'd leave my approach just short on the second and chip it six feet past the hole. However, I'd slip the putt in the side door to stay at level par.

Two good shots into the par four third left me with about an 18 footer, a putt I'd leave just short. I'd make another routine two-putt par on the par three fourth.

I got into a bit of trouble on the long par four fifth. I drove it well right over by some sprinkler boxes but I still had a relatively clear shot with a tree hindering my backswing. I ended up well short of the green but my 30 yard pitch shot nestled within a couple feet. Another par.

Routine two putt par on the sixth then I got up and down from right of the green on the par three 7th, almost chipping that in too.

I'd get into red figures on the par five 8th. I hit my best drive of the day here and had 218 yards into the green. My four-iron went just right of the greenside trap but I pitched the ball to five feet and made the putt to get to one under.

Two solid shots set me up with a 35 footer up the hill on nine but I got a bit frisky with my birdie effort, knocking it five feet past. I'd miss the comebacker, my first missed putt of the day to shoot an even par 36 on the front.

I hit the ball beautifully for the most part on the front but my game was just about to fall apart...at least my long game!

On the short par five tenth, I hit a weak hook into a tree and was lucky enough to be able to get a swing on it. I hit another poor shot, leaving me 150 yards into the green but knocked my 9-iron long. I would miss another six footer here for the ugly bogey.

I'd make two routine pars on 11 and 12 and that's when I decided to turn into Harry Houdini!

13th Hole: Pull drive left. Find it's right in a tree. Just chip it into fairway, 135 yards away. PW to 18 feet. Make the putt for par!

14th Hole: Sucker pin in back right portion of green. Go for it like an idiot and short side myself right. I do what I can and the ball settles about 20 feet away. Make that one too! Fist pump!

15th Hole: Another weak hook that hits a pine tree left of the fairway and drops right in it! Have to be careful manoeuvering myself into a hitting position, being sure not to break any branches. Advance the ball five yards so I can get a swing on it. Then hit a 5-iron to about 180 yards. From there, I hit a 6-iron to four feet! Knock that in for another par save!

Wow.

I knew I was dancing with the devil for almost the entire back nine and finally played a good hole on the par five 16th, barely missing a birdie putt.

But my escape routines were about to come up short. On the long par three 17th, I hit a horrible shot into the hazard right of the green. I'd find my ball and contemplated taking a drop due to the poor lie but ultimately decided to try to hack it out. It was a good decision, as I hit a soaring shot that ended up about 12 feet away! I'd miss the putt though and make bogey.

Then on 18, with out of bounds looming on the right, my playing partner hits a ball so far right I could only wince. I step up and make the ugliest, Charles Barkley-like anti-right swing you can imagine and snap hook the ball into a tree forty yards in front of me, with the ball ending up in a gulley on the adjacent first hole.

Wonderful.

I have practically no shot, with the ball sitting poorly on a downhill slope and can only advance the ball fifty yards. I still have about 200 yards into the green and hit a high 5-iron over the trees into the greenside bunker. With a decent crowd assembled at the green, I blast out and hit the flagstick, with the ball stopping an inch away. I get a few claps for that one and also when I tap in for a bogey they all surely thought was a par.

So in the end, I somehow prevail with a 75 (+3), a score that flatters me tremendously. I could easily have been about a 78 so I guess I'm satisfied with the number.

While I'm not out of it by any means, scores were quite low on the day. Mike K, a three-time former club champion shot a lovely 69 and has a three shot lead over young Joe T. There are four players sitting at 74, including friend of Now on the Tee, Mr. Toast himself. The
Golf + Poker blogger shot a scintillating 34 (-2) on the front nine.

So I have six guys in front of me starting the second round, which takes place in an hour or two. Our good pal Harry from Sports, Entertainment and Smack also played a solid round, shooting 77 (+5). Good stuff.

I have a feeling the cut will end up at 155, as they are taking the top 12 and ties.

I won't be thinking about the cut at all. I think I need a 72 at the worst today to get into contention for Monday's final round so I'll be looking for birdies. Talk to you later tonight or tomorrow!

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