Monday, July 06, 2009

Langley Cup 2009 - First Round

I prepared for Sunday's first round Langley Cup match by playing Saturday morning.

It's well documented how poor my game has been this year but I can honestly say that the ballstriking 'display' I put on Saturday was the worst I can remember in years.

I didn't hit a green in regulation until the ninth hole, followed it up with GIRs on the 10th and 11th and that was it. Three greens all day. Just a pathetic display with my irons.

Thankfully, my putter has been hot almost all year long and I actually made two of my three birdie putts and somehow was only +2 through 11 holes.

I didn't deserve to score that well and subconsciously I must have known that, as I'd follow up with four double bogeys over my last seven holes to shoot an 82. I got exactly what I deserved.

I would shockingly head to the driving range before my match on Sunday to try to iron out my problems but hitting twenty balls or so didn't really help.

I'd have to try to figure things out on the course.

I was matched up against Adam R, a five handicapper who by the looks of things has improved his game quite a bit this year. He started the year as a nine, so he's obviously seen some good things come out of his game in '09.

I'd have to give him only one shot, as I carried a 3.2 index into the match, which is a four handicap from the tips at St. Catharines.

We were teeing off on the back nine and his stroke hole was #8 so I was hoping to close him out early enough so he'd never get that shot.

I was out of sorts to start - I didn't have my usual toonie in my bag which I use as a ball marker and had to sprint to my car to find one. I came to the par five 10th tee out of breath and snap hooked my ball off a tree and into the adjacent ninth fairway. I'd hit a rescue into a grove of trees left of the fairway about 100 yards from the green. I'd punch out well right of the green, chip on and two putt for a bogey.

Meanwhile, Adam striped one down the middle, layed up nicely with his second, hit his approach to 12 feet and calmly made the putt for a birdie four to take the one up lead.

Ha. What a start!

Thankfully, things would improve. Here's the rest of the match -

HOLE 11 (Par 4): I make a routine two-putt par while Adam rams his birdie putt about five feet past the hole. He misses the comebacker. MATCH ALL SQUARE
HOLE 12 (Par 3): I hit the green and two putt for par. Adam hits his tee ball slightly fat and it's wet. He doesn't hole his third shot after taking a drop. MATT 1 UP
HOLE 13 (Par 4): I nail my drive down the middle and Adam slices one way into the trees right of the fairway and into the hazard. He drops and pitches out to the fairway but it's all academic when I hit my 8-iron to within 12 feet. I miss the birdie putt but the hole is conceded. MATT 2 UP
HOLE 14 (Par 3): I hit a poor shot well right and into the bunker. Adam hits a great tee shot about 10 feet underneath the hole. I'm up against the back lip of the bunker and do well to get it to within 25 feet. I miss my putt and am ready to concede the hole but Adam crushes his putt six feet past the hole up the hill. Ugh. He then misses his par putt by a mile and still has five feet left but I concede the bogey putt. I felt lucky just to get a halve there and didn't want to see him four whack. MATT 2 UP
HOLE 15 (Par 5): I murdered my drive here and actually had a pretty good chance to get close in two if I wanted. Those thoughts ended when Adam snap hooked his second shot into the water. He was melting down by this point. I'd lay up, hit on to about 15 feet and two putt for par to beat Adam's bogey. MATT 3 UP
HOLE 16 (Par 5): We'd both play the hole well and make two putt pars. MATT 3 UP
HOLE 17 (Par 3): I hit a pretty solid 4-iron on the 222 yarder but was just short and right of the green. Adam hit his shot on the hillside left of the green. Hit chip was a good one, leaving about a six footer for par. I'd chip to about four feet. Adam's par putt would lip out hard while I'd stroke mine dead center. MATT 4 UP
HOLE 18 (Par 4): I hit a horrible drive here, hooking it off the birch tree into the fairway bunker on the adjacent first hole. Adam crushed his down the pipe. I had absolutely no shot at the green and was forced to punch it out to the 100 marker. Adam came up just short of the green with his second so I still had some life, especially after hitting a good wedge to about 10 feet. Adam's chip came up seven or eight feet short and I had visions of stealing the hole from him but missed my putt. Adam had his opening but couldn't take advantage, lipping out again and making bogey. MATT 4 UP

The bogey there gave me an opening nine score of 39 (+3) while Adam came in with a 43. I felt pretty good despite the bogey there and felt very comfortable in the match, thinking I could end it early.

HOLE 1 (Par 4): There was some chatter going on by the putting green and I get way too easily distracted - I'd come out of my 4-iron tee shot and was right behind the large maples right of the fairway. I tried the heroic shot over top but couldn't get the ball through. I'd chip on to about 12 feet and miss my par putt. Once again, Adam had an opening, as he was only about 15 feet away from the stick for birdie, just off the green. However, Adam didn't hit a good chip and ran the ball about 8 feet past the hole, leaving a treacherous downhiller. He'd ram that five or six feet past and he non-challantly walked up to a crucial bogey putt and made it. Kind of surprised that went in, to be honest. He almost seemed ready to give up. MATT 4 UP
HOLE 2 (Par 4): I hit a mediocre tee shot but it was down the middle. Adam pulled his shot left but it was KILLED - he only had about 100 yards in. However, I'd hit a tremendous 8-iron right over the stick to about 12 feet. Adam would also hit the green and we'd both two putt. MATT 4 UP
HOLE 3 (Par 4): We both destroyed our drives and ended up right beside each other, about 128 yards in on the 406 yard hole. Adam stiffed his approach to seven feet and my wedge ended up on the right fringe, about 18 feet away. I'd miss and Adam would MAKE. We have a match here... MATT 3 UP
HOLE 4 (Par 3): Adam goes first and hits a very poor iron shot short of the front bunker, leaving an awkward looking pitch. I hit the green but I'm 45 feet away from the back right pin location. Adam skulls his pitch through the green then chips that one to about five feet. Just hoping to lag one to gimmie range, I hit the sharply breaking left to righter right into the middle of the cup for the shocking birdie! MATT 4 UP
HOLE 5 (Par 4): Adam is already talking about what might have been, even though the match was still in question. I just wanted to end it right here. I nailed one of my best tee balls of the day down the middle and Adam hit a huge block into the adjacent 15th fairway. He'd hit a great approach over the trees and onto the green, about 25 feet away. I'd follow up with a 6-iron to 20 feet. We'd both two putt and now I had him dormie. MATT 4 UP
HOLE 6 (Par 5): I drove it about a yard through the fairway while Adam just crushed his drive down the pipe. My layup was very poor and it looked like I had to clear the trademark tree that sits in the middle of the sixth fairway for my third shot. Adam decided to lay up instead of going for it, a curious decision at this juncture of the match. I had to choose whether to punch underneath the tree or attempt to go over it. I gambled, opened up my pitching wedge from about 140 yards and hit it as hard as I could. It barely cleared the trees and soared toward the stick, stopping about 12 feet away.

"Dagger to the heart", I whispered to myself as I put my club in my bag. I knew that shot was the match winner.

Indeed, Adam's short approach was decent but still left him with a 12 footer of his own. I'd go first and lip out my birdie, as Adam says "you almost gave me a heart attack!". When Adam's putt cruises by the hole, the match is over. MATT WINS 4 & 3

Solid match and I was happy for Adam too, as he played extremely well on the back side to make me sweat it out. We both were even on our back nines at that point.

I'd bogey the next hole and then finish with solid pars on the 8th and 9th to give me a fine 76 (+4) on the day. Quite the turnaround from the day previous, as I hit a season best 10 greens in regulation and generally hit the ball quite well with my irons. I made one adjustment early in the round, hinging my body a bit more over the ball as opposed to the more upright posture I had been using. Seemed to help my ball striking consistency quite a bit.

I found out after the round that my next opponent in the Langley will be the Toastman himself, Cal. First time we've played in the competition, I believe and it should be a great match. Cal is a former winner of the event so he's definitely the favourite going in. Check out his blog
right here.

I imagine we'll get the match out of the way sometime before club championship weekend.

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