It’s been a crazy ten days, with a months’ worth of golf stuffed into a four day period and that was followed by the annual Gentlemen’s Invitational at St. Catharines, our three day member-guest event that I played in for the third year in a row.
My wife’s uncle Henry has been my partner and we finished in 6th last year, with hopes of perhaps winning the whole thing this time out.
Unfortunately, 2010 was not going to be our year.
We started on Thursday on the par three 17th hole with a par but the best we could do on the par four 18th was my triple bogey after Henry sliced two balls onto Highway 406. I hit my drive left, nailed a tree on the second, just chipped out for my third, hit the fourth on and three-whacked for the triple. We’d get six shots back over the course of the next 16 holes but an opening round best ball score of 69 won’t do you any favours in this format.
I shot a 78 on my own ball and followed with a 75 on Friday, as we’d improve by only one shot as a team, shooting a four under 68 to fall 12 shots back of the leaders going into the final round, which took place Saturday morning.
It was a pretty memorable day for yours truly.
I actually decided to visit the driving range for the first time all year to warmup – I’ve only been out there during a club fitting so this was a big deal. I started poorly both Thursday and Friday so I figured a little 10 minute warmup might help my game.
I hit a great drive on our opening hole, the par five 10th and had a 212 yard shot left. My 4-iron was pured and left me with about a 20 foot eagle putt which I just missed. One under to start and a net eagle for our team.
I’d barely miss ten foot birdie tries on the next two holes then make a nice up and down on the par four 13th to stay at one under. I’d make a routine par on the 14th and had another go at a par five in two on the mid-length 15th, coming up just left on the cart path. After taking my drop, I hit a tremendous pitch into the rough that took a bounce and stopped only four feet away on the front pin position. I’d ram that home to move to two under for the day.
I’d complete the back nine with three solid two-putt pars to finish that side in 34 shots and really, other than the up and down on 13, I didn’t have to sweat any shots.
The second nine started well – 4-iron down the middle followed by a pitching wedge to 9 feet. The wind was howling pretty good all day and a storm was approaching – I actually had to back off the putt as the ball was oscillating but I stepped back up and confidently rammed that putt centre cut.
Three under par!
A two putt par followed on the 2nd hole then I had to make a really nice up and down on the 3rd to stay bogey-free.
Our team was cruising along pretty well too at this point at 5 under and that improved to -6 when Henry chipped in for birdie on the par three fourth hole!
Our playing partner Chuck looked at my forty footer for birdie and said,
“No picking that one up Matt – at least give the birdie putt a go.”
Of course, I had no intention of picking up a forty footer even though we were already in with birdie, especially with the way my round was going. So I stepped up and told myself not to leave it short, especially since I was planning on picking up when I missed.
Or if I missed…which I didn’t! I knocked that bomb right into the cup and I think everyone on the entire golf course heard our screams, as even our competitors were getting behind me now! Four under on the day!
My low lifetime round was a four under 68 shot in September 2005, a round I documented in my first year writing this blog. I didn’t break par once last year so it’s been a long while since I’ve been this low.
Still, I was playing super aggressive in a pretty friendly format and not really thinking of my score too much.
I lipped out for another birdie on the tough par four 5th and came close to hitting the par five 6th in two. I left myself with an awkward pitch shot though and had to settle for par.
I hit an indifferent tee shot on the par three 7th, coming up a bit left to the tricky back left pin location and hit my chip to about three feet and would make another good par save.
My drive on the 8th hole went left and I had only about 215 yards left on the par five. However, I needed to hit a big hook around the trees and the wind was pushing the other way so I decided to chicken out and wedge it to the bottom.
From there, I’d hit a poor approach to 30 feet and had a severe right to left downhiller to the front hole location. I’d hit the putt and with ten feet to go, I knew I was moving into uncharted territory.
Another bomb! Birdie to move to FIVE UNDER PAR!
Another huge scream from everyone in our group!
I had only one hole left, the 400 yard par four 9th which was playing pretty short due to the significant tailwind. My drive was nailed but went left just past the tiny bunker but I had a relatively clear shot with a wedge. I’d leave that just short of the green and faced a 35 foot uphill putt for a birdie.
Unfortunately, I’d leave it six feet short and miss my only real putt of the day for par, tapping in for my only bogey of the day to finish with a four under par round of 68, tying my best ever score. I hit 12 greens in regulation and had 27 putts during this eventful round.
Adding to the intrigue is that this was only my second round with my new putter, which just arrived mid-day on Thursday and I’m still breaking in all new equipment after getting my clubs stolen three short weeks ago.
We finished nine under for the day as a team and -16 for the tournament, about 12 shots short of the title which was won by the Morrison brothers for the second time in three years. Still not sure where we finished but I assume it was somewhere just outside the top ten.
A great day…one that soon won’t be forgotten.