On Saturday last week, I was facing new member Mike F in the first round of the Langley. Mike is a solid player and a four handicap – my last round of 68 dropped me to a 2.1 index, which is a two handicap from the tips so I’d be giving Mike two shots in the match on two of the easier par fives on the course: #8 and #10.
My goal in these competitions is always to play steady golf and try to par my competitor to death. Put the pressure on with shots to the middle of the green and let him make the mistakes.
I worked the theory to perfection early, making two putt pars on the first two holes then making a nice up and down from just off the green on the par four third to beat Mike’s bogey and take a one up lead.
I’d barely miss birdie on the par three fourth and thought I’d go up two but Mike made a clutch 12 footer for par to stay one down. We’d both saw off with pars on the 5th hole but I’d hit a great little lob wedge on the par five 6th to about three feet and make that for my first birdie of the day to go up two in the match.
I got fortunate on the next hole – I’d hit a very poor iron shot well left of the green and despite hitting a nice pitch shot, I’d miss the five foot par putt. Mike was about three feet away for par and didn’t even scare the hole, giving me a halve there.
That was a bit of a relief coming to the par five 8th, knowing I was giving up a shot. I’d likely have to make birdie just to have a chance at sawing off the hole and a good drive followed by a 4-hybrid put me in great shape with a 20 foot eagle putt. Mike hit his second into the greenside trap so he was in good shape as well.
However, he inexplicably skulled his bunker shot over the green and into the trees and we couldn’t find his ball. He’d concede the hole after my eagle putt ended up a foot short and I was three up.
What a turn of events!
Mike got one back with a par on the 9th versus my bogey so he was two down heading to the par five 10th, where he was also getting a shot.
I shot even on the front versus his four over par 40 but that was meaningless when he made about a ten footer for birdie on the 10th to take the hole and move to only one down in the match.
After hitting a perfect little wedge on the 11th that somehow bounced through the green, I thought luck was turning against me. However, I just wasn’t ready to let that happen and ended up CHIPPING IN for the great birdie three to get back to two up!
Big momentum changer there!
We’d saw off with pars on the 12th and I’d take complete control of the match with pars on the 13th and 14th, winning both to go four up with four to play.
I’d have a bit of a scare on the 15th when I almost pulled my layup shot into the pond left but it barely stayed out and I would ultimately make a par versus Mike’s bogey to take the hole and win the match convincingly 5 & 3.
The match was quite competitive despite the lopsided score and I was actually one under after 15 holes so I really had it going. Despite a number of subpar rounds in my life, including the 68 in my previous round, I’ve never broken par from the back tees at St. Catharines, with all of my under par scores at my home club shot from the Blues.
I would make routine two-putt pars at both the par five 16th and tough par three 17th, meaning I’d need a par on the difficult 18th to break my personal best from the back tees.
With no nerves whatsoever, I’d nail one right down the middle off the tee and a little fist pump followed. The pin was cut in the front and I only had about 132 yards to the flag. The wind was swirling a bit and I decided to go with a full pitching wedge versus a soft nine.
It was the right call – my ball flew right at the pin and stopped only 8 feet away!
I knew I had my under par round sewn up…there was no way I was three-putting that bad boy but any doubts were cast aside moments later, as I holed the birdie putt to finish in style, shooting a two under par 70 to set a personal best from the back tees at St. Catharines!
I think my new clubs are working!
I’d follow that up on Sunday with a solid 74 (+2), shooting a 34 on the back side to recover nicely after a four over front nine. So I’m an aggregate FOUR UNDER PAR in my last three rounds!
Hopefully I can save some of those birdies for the club championship in early August!