Ontario Better Ball Qualifier Preview

My buddy Harry and I will be attempting to qualify for the Ontario Better Ball Championship that is being held at Oakdale Golf & Country Club in May.

The qualifier is tomorrow morning at Bridgewater Golf & CC in Fort Erie. 36 two-man teams will be attempting to move on from our particular qualifier – there are seven other qualifying locations so I assume there will only be about four or five spots available.

My game is pretty decent early in the year and I’m coming off an interesting weekend of play.

Harry, Toast, Bernie and I played together both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a pretty dreadful morning weather-wise, with a steady drizzle and temps around 10 degrees.

I started very poorly, going +5 through the first six. I parred the final three holes to close the front side with a 41. That’s when the craziness began.

My next seven holes? Birdie, Double Bogey, Birdie, Birdie, Bogey, Birdie, Birdie. Five birds in seven holes but I’m only -2 to show for it. I’d bogey the 18th to shoot 35 on the back and 76 overall.

I kept the solid play going for a little while in today’s round. We started on the back nine and I almost aced the 12th hole, coming so close that both Toast and Harry were convinced it was in the hole and started high-fiving me. Turns out the ball came to rest about a 1/2 inch directly behind the hole, hiding behind the flagstick.

I ended up missing about a six footer on the 13th for another birdie but came through on the par five 15th to get back to even par. Two bogeys on the remaining three holes meant a 38 (+2) on our first nine.

The putting stroke then started to fail me, especially on the many five foot, right-to-lefters that I kept getting. Usually, those are the desired breaks for right-handers like myself but I had enormous difficulty today, missing seven putts inside five feet, all of them right to left and all of them just on the low side.

I was in a pretty surly mood, even though Toast was in the midst of a career round. I ended up draining about a 35 footer on our last hole, the long par four ninth, for birdie to end the day with a 79. Toast made a five footer for par on the last to come in with a 70 (-2). Congrats again to Toasty, who was money with his irons all day and didn’t miss one make-able putt – I’ll take a shot aside from now on! 😉

I’m relatively pleased with my start to the year and look forward to tomorrow’s round. Harry had a tough weekend but seemed to be coming around on the back nine today, where I’m pretty sure he broke 40. My guess is that it will take a 70 or so to make the top four, a pretty difficult task.

I don’t have any expectations other than having a good time. I love competition and will be giving it my all but regardless of what happens with our score, I won’t get too serious out there.

Check out the post I made on May 8th last year for a little preview of what to expect at Bridgewater. That post talks about my experiences there for the Niagara Men’s Tour’s first event in 2006.

As far as a gameplan, I intend to be very aggressive all day. Harris is naturally aggressive while I usually lay back and play a more analytical style but the format obviously favours birdies so I think I’m going to go for broke a bit more often. The first hole always seems to get me, a 423 yard par four with a creek that bisects the fairway at about 275 yards.

I usually lay up on this hole with a rescue club but will be pulling driver tomorrow, barring a swift downwind breeze. I still don’t know how we’ll handle the honours – whether to always go first myself, have Harris go first or just wing it. I figure I’ll end up going with a system that makes him comfortable, since he’s playing in his first provincial event and may have a couple butterflies.

Either way, I’m looking forward to the day and will throw up a post tomorrow night with details on how things went. Wish us luck!

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