Monday, April 24, 2006

40 out; 36 in = 76

My first individual competitive round since sometime around 1997 went pretty well. Today I played in a qualifier for the Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championship (limited to those with a handicap somewhere under 6 for people over 25). I fired a 76 at Balmorol Woods in Crete, IL. It's not a particularly long course, but the greens have some serious teeth, and they were rolling pretty quick today. The cut eventually came in at 79, which means I've qualified for the championship next month. It's a two day even with a cut after the first day, so the goal right now is to make it to the second day.

As for today's round, it was kind of strange, really. I bogeyed #1, which is probably one of the three or four easiest holes on the course, and one on which I can never seem to do better than bogey. I followed that up with seven straight pars, including a 3-putt par on #3, a short par five on which I hit driver - 4-iron, then proceeded to 3 jack away an easy birdie. Another 3 putt on #9 was my first bogey in 8 holes. I followed that up 8 straight pars, including brilliant up-and-downs on #13 and #16, while missing a great birdie chance on #14. Honestly, I don't think I've ever had a stretch of at least seven consecutive pars before today, let alone two.

Then came #18. I figured that 76 would be safe, and that I could probably get in with 77. After the par on 14, I figured I had three shots to play with, and I was going to need at least two, as #15 is a tough hole, and I figured there was another bogey lurking somewhere. So I went to 18 at two over, feeling pretty safe, knowing I had at the very least one shot to play with, probably two, maybe three (as it turns out, it was four). I hit an absolutely perfect drive (I drove the ball pretty well all day). At that point, I figured I was in. Worst case scenario, I make bogey and walk off with a 75. At that point, me and a fellow competitor (who, with an 85, didn't play as well as he could have) started talking about the course at which the championship is being played, counting my chickens, if you will. King of surprising, because I'm certainly no chicken counter. Anyway, I stepped up to the ball and proceeded to shank it dead right. Got a lucky break off a tree, and followed that up by chunking the next shot. So now I'm lying three in the fairway, praying that I could make double. Which is exactly what I did. Not exactly how you want to finish. I don't know how the CDGA sets up their tournaments, but this may affect my tee time. When I played in the USGA Publinx, I barely qualified for the sectional, and was in one of the last groups.

Anyway, I figured that this year would be a good year to build up some tournament experience, and next year I'd make more of a run at these events, but I'm ahead of my own schedule right now. I didn't play as well as I could have, but it was my first round in a while that meant something, where I had to hole out every putt, and I responded fairly well. Let's hope I play a little better next month.

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