Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 14, 2013: Where were the two shots, Why, What's Next, and other observations

While I have been continuing to receive congratulations, I am still sad and been thinking about what happened and how I can keep a good golf game going over an entire event.  But first, where could I have found two shots.
  • Thursday
    • Missing three putts inside four feet
    • Bogey on the reachable par-5 6th
  • Friday
    • Missing one putt inside four feet
    • Four poor swings that lead to two doubles and two bogeys
    • +6 on the par-3's
I was the third lowest of the 26 club professionals that qualified.  Two club professionals made the cut.  I beat the likes of defending champion Roger Chapman, +10,  and other past tour winners Bill Glasson, Tom Purtzer, Joey Sindelar, Brad Faxon, Steve Jones, and Scott Simpson.  At one time I was ahead of this year's winner Kenny Perry.

I was the only player under par after the first round to miss the cut.

I have been searching my memory as to what switch went off that caused me to play poorly.  Now the pattern of playing well early in an event, regardless of the number of holes, has always been a pattern.  It happened in college with intra-squad qualifying, in three Chapter Championships, and one round pro-ams.  And I now think it has to do with being score oriented.

Why did I go from 2 under through 20 holes and 9-over in the next 16?

I played well in the qualifying, particularly my short game in the last six holes, because I wasn't concerned about score, just shot execution.  And I did that well for 20 holes in the Senior Open.   But on Friday's second hole, made birdie to get to two under par, I recognized that fact in a different way than Thursday when I knew I was three under. And I think on Friday I got focused on score, instead of shot execution and it lead to too much pin seeking.

Of the six birdies I made only one was from less than 15 feet, and that was the second putt on #6 on Friday.  I had two birdie putts inside four feet - #18 Thursday and #13 Friday - and missed them both.  That confirms I was rarely pin seeking and relying on my putter for good scores.  But suddenly I became too pin oriented and not "the best place/shot for me" oriented.

On #3 I cannot conclude this for sure, but on #5 with the pin on the upper right shelf, I tried to hit the shot to the pin instead of playing for the middle and trusting my ability for a two putt.  #7 the shot should have been to the widest part of the green, the front third, with a shorter club and an aggressive swing.  #10 should have been the 6-iron the math and wind dictated instead of the 5-iron to get it there. If I hit the six good and it wasn't enough, I would have a simple chip or pitch instead of playing from a deep greenside bunker too far from the hole.  On #11 with the pin in front I should have played to the middle, giving me leeway to clear the front bunker, instead trying to hit a perfectly distanced shot to the pin.
As I said in an earlier post, I found what in the moment means.  And I let myself get away from that those last 16 holes.  After 42 years of golf, being in the moment is new to me.  I have to learn from this week to stay there.  And I get to start tomorrow with a OPGA Sr. Pro-Am at Quail Valley.

What does this performance mean for my competitive future?  First I have to believe I am that good.  And the confidence that my tee shots will find the fairway helps me get that belief.  The final big event on my schedule is the PNWPGA Senior Professional Championship in September.  That is the  first of two steps to reaching the PGA Senior Championship, another senior major.  So my immediate goal is to play well enough in that event to qualify for the National Senior Club Professional Championship.

I will add more practice to my weekly routine for the rest of the season.  Over the winter I will decide if I want to arrange my business management to provide me the opportunity to play more.  That would mean more section tournaments, senior and regular, and time away from work and family to practice and play.  With Connor headed to Gonzaga in just under seven weeks, the family situation may be easier.  Work would require a reorganization and hiring of staff with different responsibilities.  I would focus on teaching, playing and tournaments and then delegate all the other stuff to staff.

Other Observations:
  • My handicap index is 0.9 making me basically a 1 handicap.  Omaha Country Club is rated 74.6 for member play.  So to play to my handicap for two days, my total would be 151 and I shot 147.  When I post the 69, a - 5.6 differential, the computer will ask if  I am sure I want to post it.  Couple that with the 66 before I left, I am about to become a +1 and may likely get a scarlet letter for my recent tournament performances.
  • Tour life would be tough.  Yeah the courtesy cars, free food, equipment and the like are great.  But living in a hotel, eating at restaurants, and being away from family would be tough.  It was fun and exciting this week, but would be boring very fast.
  • In order for me to truly compete with those guys, I need at least 30 more yards on my tee shots and 10 more yards on my irons.  I have never had that and most likely never will.  But Jeff Hart gives me hope.  I our practice round our tee shots were close in yardage.  He shot 64 today.
  • The greens got amazingly rough in the afternoon.  Not from spike marks like the before, but leaf tissue raised up.  That doesn't happen with West Coast grass, it maybe the type of turf they have to use in Nebraska.
  • I want to get back to that event.  I can make the cut.  Sacramento in 2015 would be great, every year would be better.
A welcome home reception is at Green Mountain tomorrow from 5 -7 pm.  Food will be available.  Hope to see you there.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July 13, 2013: Round 2 Recap

I was restless all night and through lunch Friday.  But once I hit the practice range, I was ready to play.  The wind was blowing.  Heard Tom Lehman, Mark O'Meara and Fred Funk talk about the difficulty the wind was a would present the rest of the day and how slow the greens are as the USGA protects the turf.  Including the drying and firming of the greens.  I know that wind takes patience.

I see Duffy on the range and tell him today will be just like playing in Santa Ana winds of SoCal.

Go though the new routine and focus the full swings on smooth solid contact into the wind.  The putting green doesn't seem any faster than the last two days. 

My drive off #1 was solid down the right side toward the bunker but doesn't draw.  The ball comes to rest sitting up in the second cut of rough.  The pin is cut just over a bunker and I attempt to play toward the middle of the green, but end up firing at the pin instead.  The ball goes over the green and a simple, at least by Open standards, up and down brings par.

A drive and a 3 hybrid leave me 65 yards to the pin cut just two paces over a false front on #2.  I get the SW to about 20 feet safely above the hole and I roll it in for birdie to reach -2.  Funk at the time was the clubhouse leader at -3.  And I am calm and confident my good play will continue.

With the tees up on three, I select a five iron to a pin slightly back of center.  I do not drive through the shot with my legs and block the ball into the right bunker.  I have plenty of green to work with and plenty of green behind the pin to insure a bogey at worst.  But my shot doesn't reach the green. Whether I decelerated or just didn't hit it hard enough I'm not sure.  I make too aggressive a stroke with the chip shot from the long rough and miss a six footer for bogey.  The first double of the tournament.  But I am ok.

My drive on four starts on the right as planned but again, like number one, doesn't draw.  I am left with a 3 hybrid out of the first cut of rough to a left pin that requires a cut around the tree limbs to find the green.  A four iron would have reached the green, but I was afraid with the ball sitting up so well that I would hit an iron fat, but the wide sole of the hybrid would prevent that.

So choking down on the 3 I catch the ball squarely and it begins to cut to the middle of the green, but then begins to draw toward short side deep bunkers.  But it lands on turf and I can't see where it ends up.  But it rolls just through the green into long rough between a couple clumps.  These clumps deaden the ball and I leave the chip 18 feet short.  I have the line of the putt down, but leave it two feet short.  Bogey.

The pin on 5 is on the upper right shelf, but the tees are up, so only a six iron in my hand.  My plan is to start the ball over the right greenside bunker and draw it back to the pin. But I lean into the swing a push it horribly into a tree.  I hear it hit the tree and maybe the cart path.  I can't determine where it is and am not receiving a signal from the marshals. As I go to play a provisional, we receive the safe sign.  I find the ball under the tree and behind the bunker with the leader board blocking my preferred path.  I find out the only reason the ball stayed in bounds is it hit a TV crewman in the leg and bounced back.

I ask for line of sight relief from the temporary immovable obstruction for the path I wan to play.  A rules official is a called over and I am told I only get line of sight relief if the TIO blocks my direct path to the hole.  He says, "play hard".

In trying to make a bogey, my choice is to play toward the front of the green, but not so close as to risk running down the hill that fronts the green.  So I play into the bunker instead.  On the green 10 feet and miss again, another double.  Ouch.

Six is playing very short.  Fred Funk hit wedge in for his second shot earlier.  I hit a good tee shot leaving me a six iron second that I put on the front edge and two putt for birdie.  Relief.

I put my tee ball on seven in another greenside bunker but manage to get it up and down with the ball barely making it to the hole.  It almost looked like it hesitated and then fell in.

To 8 where there is no way I can reach the green today.  A good drive gets me half way and I don't want to hit 3D off the deck because I haven't tried that shot yet with that club.  I just want to hit 3W to near the front of the green, pitch up and make a par putt.  But I end up hitting a rolling dying draw that ends up in a fairway bunker 40 yards short of the green.  I play out to the front of the green and get that up and down for bogey.  Ok, that is an expected score on that hole.

A good drive on nine gets me to a flatter area in the fairway, but a pulled 8-iron puts me on the green but well away from the hole.  I leave the first putt five feet short and make that for par.

I turn at +3 for the event and feeling fine after the dilemmas of the front nine.

With strong winds helping the drive on 10 I consider hitting the 3D past the bunker and hazard, but I am not sure I can carry it that far.  So the 3W is played down the middle.  I have 182 effective yards to the front edge, playing less due to the wind.  That information tells me to hit six iron, but it doesn't look right.  So I try a punch cut 5 iron and totally miss the shot and hit a worm burner slice into a greenside bunker and make a bogey.

As we get to the 11th tee, tees and pin up, the wind is helping and it appears a PW would work well.  Matt Hall hits his shot in the back right bunker with that wind.  But as I approach the tee the wind shifts and indecision creeps in.  I choose to hit an easy 8-iron and plant it in the front bunker.  I should have hit it full to the middle or back of the green and rely on my putter for a par.  I tried to be too cute and paid the price.

A good drive on 12 gives me a five iron shot.  The pin is on the right tier and I attempt to start the shot at the middle of the green to fade to the right.  But it starts too far right, lands on the right fringe and just rolls into the 2nd cut of rough pin high.  But an excellent chip provides a much needed par.

Finally a solid iron off the 13 tee leaves me just under 100 yards to a pin in the back of the green near a side slope.  I play a great shot to within four feet with a L-R break.  I don't find the line at address again an miss the putt. I really wanted that putt to give me a cushion with the cut.  I am pretty sure it will be set at 5 or 6 over par, if I am lucky.

Another pulled drive on 14 puts me in the 3rd cut of rough.  I am more aggressive this time and get the ball to within 130 yards of the pin set on the back left shelf.  I need to draw the ball around some trees, but can't be too aggressive and flirt with the trees.  I do get the ball on the upper shelf, barely.  When I hit this putt my feet are on the downslope.  I don't get the ball high enough but make an easy par.

15 is much more downwind than any of the other days.  I get my drive to within 120 yards of the pin, but in the second cut.  The pin is cut on the front right portion of the green, so any shot right of the pin from the rough will most likely run off, or, if short, find a bunker.  So I am playing toward the middle of the green in anticipation of the slope moving the ball toward the hole.  I want to make sure I drive my legs strong through the shot here to avoid going right.  But the ball comes out too far left and lands short of the green, but fortunately hangs in the first cut of rough, otherwise it would have rolled back down the fairway a ways.  I have a simple makeable chip that I roll to within a foot for an easy par.  I have been told this shot was on TV.

The tees are up on 16 and so is the pin.  The effective yardage to the pin is just over 180, and just over 170 to the front.  The wind is helping and right to left.  A 6-iron hit well would get me to the front, but if I missed it I would find another bunker.  So I choose the 5-iron and finally put a good swing on a par-3 tee shot.  The ball begins to drift toward the left bunker, but lands just off the green and kicks on.

I am left with a 25 foot putt over a mound and downhill for 20 feet of the putt.  I can see a line where the ball will go in: big right to left but falling right at the hole.  With the putts having a tendency not to roll as much as one would like when trying to cozy the ball down a slope, I don't want to get too cute and leave a difficult down hill putt for par.  So I hit the ball on the line I see and it takes the last break just a half second too late and the ball runs 10 feet past the hole.

Another weak putt for par that is never high enough or firm enough gives me a bogey.  I see Connor twirl in disappointment.  Now six over and now I believe over the cut line.

I hit my second terrible tee shot of the tournament on the short 17th and I can only advance the ball into the front bunker on my second leading to the bogey that totally kills my chances of making the cut.

Tees are up again on 18.  I hit another good tee shot here and rope a 2 hybrid to within 10 feet.  This shot was on TV.  I hit the birdie putt too hard and settle for par and I know I blew this chance.

I leave the green and say "thanks Omaha" to the sparse remaining crowd and they invite me back.

I see my Dad and ask if I made the cut.  He doesn't know but tells me I made his cut.  Minda gives me a kiss as I walk to the scoring area where I see 64 players are at +5 and better.  And the final disappointment sets in.

Matt Hall finishes dead last of those that completed and Matt Sughrue is in the bottom 10.

Most of my errors in this round were lack of execution of the chosen shot whether due to lack of commitment or physical errors of a poor swing.

It is the putt on 16 that bothers the most.  Believing I needed to play the last three holes even par, including the short par-4 17th.  I chose and aggressive line on a putt in a situation that required more patience.  This mental error is the most troublesome.  Now if the putt had gone in, and it very nearly did, I would tell you the "field", as described in The Legend of Bagger Vance, showed me the way.

And not keeping my composure on the 17th tee shot was another error.  I should have motivated myself to hit good shots to give myself an chance and I didn't.

If I had made the cut on the number, I would have teed off on Saturday before 8am, less than 13 hours after completing the 2nd round.  That would have been physically demanding.

July 13, 2013: Round One Recap

Glad for the early starting time.

Arrive at the club at 7 for breakfast and to the range by 7:30.  Starting warm-ups these days with pitch shots to help loosen up my sore elbow for about 15 minutes, then 20 minutes of full swings and finish with 15 minutes of putting.

I originally thought hitting my first shot in a major off ten would be better than one, thinking bigger grandstands would be on one.  But here there are a bunch of corporate tents off the tenth tee.  I arrive at the tee about five minutes before the starting time and meet my fellow competitors, Matt Hall and Matt Sughrue.

I am second to tee off on this difficult par-4, a par-5 in my strategy.  Originally the plan was 3D in the morning and 3-wood in the afternoon, but the wind is blowing with the tee shot, so a 3-wood is the club selection.  I hit a weak fade into the right rough, missing the severe downslope of the fairway and the distance it provides in order to be able to reach the green in two.  An 8-iron out of the rough to about 120, a GW to the front fringe and two putts for 5.

My practice round shots on the par-3 11th all came up short, mainly because I didn't make complete swings.  So I made sure to make a complete swing on the 7-iron and put it pin high.  A good birdie chance, but a weak putt, I was little afraid of the speed, and an easy par.

Number 12 in practice had been playing long with my tee shots landing on its most significant up slope.  But downwind today so a 260 yard drive, I know because this is one of the two holes used to measure driving distance, leaves me a 5-rion to a pin in the middle but just left of a left-to-right tier.  I hit my 5-iron thin and it lands just short of the green but rolls to pin high about 15 feet from the hole.  A foot to the more to the right and the slope takes the ball to within 10 feet.  The putt has a slight double break and I read it perfectly and roll it in for a birdie on an unexpected hole.

13 is a simple 4-iron off the tee, Kenny Perry did drive the green in the group ahead of us, and a gap wedge to the middle and a two putt from 30 feet for a par.

14 is the lone par-5 on the back, unreachable for me.  Despite hitting a good tee shot in the first practice round, all other drives, including in this round, find the left rough.  A smooth 6-iron out of the 2nd cut of rough leaves me with and 8-iron third to a hole cut in the lower section of the green with a backstop.  I attempt to draw the 8-iron to the hole, but it doesn't draw as much as I would like.  Connor says it is a good shot, and it is better than I thought to about 18 feet.  This right to left putt holds its line long enough to catch the left side of the hole for another birdie.

A good drive on 15 and a wimpy 8-iron leaves me 40 feet from the hole and I get that down in two putts.

The par-3 16th, listed at 223, is downhill and we are playing the tee up today.  I try and draw a 4-iron with the wind and leave right pin high in a bunker.  Knowing that bogeys are ok, make hitting this shot, and the bunker shot on #9 later, easier because I don't feel the need to get it close, just on the green somewhere in the vicinity of the hole.  But I hit a good bunker shot to 6 feet and make it for par.

The second short par-4 on the back is 17.  A nice tee shot in the fairway leaves me about 100 yards to the pin uphill into the wind.  Over the green is bad and the pin is located on a downslope.  So the choice is between the gap wedge that if it carries to the pin will most likely stay on the green. If I swing the PW it could easily go over.  So I choose the GW and don't get it to the pin and the ball spins back down the hill to the front fringe and I two putt for par.

Fortunately with the wind blowing into the golfer's face on 18, the tees are moved up about 25 yards, giving me a chance to reach the fairway.  I have a 2-hybrid to a front left hole location where left of the pin is a steep slope.  I catch the shot a little thin and it is drawing from the middle of the green toward the pin.  It doesn't have enough height to carry on the green, but it rolls around the bunker toward the pin. 

Being down so far below the level of the green, I don't hear any cheers.  And as I walk up to see where my ball lay, I can't understand why there wasn't a big roar as it lies about four feet below the hole!  Matt Hall tells me they did cheer and that I couldn't hear it because I was so far down the hill, so I forgive the crowd.

The putt at first appears to be a simple inside left read.  But the way some balls of the Matts move around the hole lead me to believe it may be straighter than I originally though.  When I stand over the ball I feel the break, adjust my stance a little more left and decide to hit it easier to make sure it breaks.  But instead of stroking the putt, I slide my body during the stroke and miss it right eliciting a moan from the crowd.  But a par on this hole is acceptable, even with that great chance.

On the first tee preparing to hit my tee shot, I hear people in the stands talking and instead of stopping and asking for quiet, I make a terrible swing and hit a smother hook.  The ball lies where the gallery has been walking, but the turf is lying to the left of my target line, so this matted turf doesn't help.   Again with bogey being ok, I move the ball to within twenty yards of the green.  I hit the pitch shot too hard giving me a downhill L-R 15 foot putt for par which I make.  Guess that makes up for the miss on 18.

Two is a big sweeping dogleg left par-5.  A drive on the left side of the fairway, a 2-hybrid gives me about 95 yards to a back pin.  With severe rise to the green my third lands in the middle and skips to 15 feet below the hole.  This putt too holds its line near the hole and drops to put me at 2 under par.

Three is another 220 downhill par-3 and today the pin is in the front left and if you short side your self it would be difficult to get up and down.  I choose a four iron to start and the pin and cut to the middle of the green.  The ball starts at the pin and stays there stopping no more than 20 feet from the hole, just off the front left corner of the green.  My birdie putts just slides low.

Four is a reasonable par-4 of just over 400 yards.  The fairway sits in its own valley with a fairway bunker acting as a good target off the tee.  With my tee shot in the middle of the fairway, I have a 5-iron in my hand needing a slight cut to insure avoiding some overhanging tree limbs.  My shot flies directly at the pin and leaves me 15 - 20 feet for birdie.  Another slight double break and the ball dives in the hole at the last moment for another birdie.

I am now three under par after 13 holes in the US Senior Open!  I am having fun and not worried about where I stand.  Just playing well.

Five, and uphill par-3 of 188 with the most severely undulating green on the course.  I did not hit one good shot in practice to this hole.  With the pin back left and very accessible I attempt a soft drawing four iron: hit it full and it may go over, five iron is not enough.  A poor swing gets the ball on the green but a good sixty feet from the hole.  My first putt gets to about four feet.  I don't commit to the line outside the hole and miss the ball low for my first bogey since the first hole I played.  Although this bogey is a disappointment, it is only a bogey in a US Open.  No real problem.

There is a scoreboard off this green.  It shows my 3 under par status and leading the Open.  I do see this before I start putting and I have a reaction of "cool" more that anything else.  Now I did have a thought before the tournament began that I would birdie my first hole and lead the open that way.  Not leading after 13 holes at 3 under par.

Six is a par-5 in name only.  All down hill off the tee to a downward sloping firm fairway.  In practice a good tee shot left we with 210 in on a 540 yard hole.  When I make contact with the tee shot I like the feel.  When I first see the ball in the air it is a little right, but nothing to worry about.  The it starts to fade hard over trees and well right of the fairway.  Fortunately there is plenty of room and the rough isn't too bad.  I hit a GW over the trees and into the fairway.  I have a 9-iron third shot to a pin middle right on a tier.  I pull the shot and it travels to the back of the green and bounces into the back rough. I have a difficult chip moving significantly downhill and to the right.  I hit it just as I want and the ball comes to rest within three feet of the hole. I hit this putt as I wanted but it didn't take the break.  A bogey on what should be a birdie hole is poor to say the least.

7 is my final par-3 of the day.  Playing about 185 to a right pin, I hit a cut 4-iron just off the front right corner of the green and two putt for par.  Relief.  I believe I am a terrible closer, and to have bogeyed three in a row would have hurt.

Eight is a 477 par four into the wind.  The only flat par 4 on the course.  It plays much longer than 6, I can't reach the green in two in this wind.  So a 3D and a 3w leaves me five or six paces off the green to a pin about 15 yards on the green.  The pitch shot has significant left to right break to the point where the shot could be played to a point pin high and let the ball feed directly to the hole.  But I release the club a little early and slip it under the ball and leave myself and 12 to 15 foot curler that I execute perfectly for a par.

Number nine is a 380ish par-4 directly uphill.  The best angle is on the left side of the fairway, but the ball drawn into this area can roll through into the rough.  I try and cut it in that space, but bail a little placing the ball on the right side of the fairway.  The pin is dead in the middle of the green, just above a little extra slope.  But I pull my six iron into the greenside bunker.  UGH!

Standing in the bunker I tell myself bogey is still ok.  Even par in the Open would be a great score for me.  The course is rated around 75.0.  The bunker shot is fairly simple, get it out and the ball will run to the hole.  I hit the shot to about three feet.  It has a significant L-R break.  I am encouraging myself to make the putt for at 69 so that I commit to a line and a pace.  I hit the putt solidly and turn my head just in time to see it drop in the center.

A 69!!!!!!!

This is the greatest round of golf I have ever played.  And to think I still left three shots out on the course by missing three short putts.

As I am walking to the scoring area, Minda comes to give me a hug and I start shaking with emotion.  After completing my scoring task I find Mom, Dad, Dan, Minda, Connor and Patti outside the locker room entrance and as soon as I embrace my Dad I start sobbing and shaking and my Mom does the same.

To have performed this well at this event is very unexpected and something I had once dreamed about doing as a career.  It seem as if the 42 years of playing golf had cumulated in this round.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 12, 2013: Not to be

Again it is late.  So I will do a short recap of today's round and go into detail about both rounds tomorrow.

A little nervous last night and this morning, but once I arrived at the course I felt comfortable.  Much warmer and windy. Saw Duffy and told him "just like playing in the Santa Anas".

After a birdie on #2, the par-3's happened, +6 on the five par-3's. I had a difficult time determining the correct shot to play calculating the effect of wind and elevation to create the proper shot selection and be committed to a shot.  And when I finally did that on the final par-3 I three putted being too aggressive.

Despite the troubles on the front and starting the back with two bogeys and missing a short birdie putt on #13, I had a chance to make the cut with three holes to play. But that three putt bogey on #16 and the only really poor drive on #17 that lead to another bogey required an eagle on #18 to make the cut.  I did hit a great 2 hybrid to within 12 feet, it got on TV.

Thanks to everyone - current friends, new friend, old friends and rediscovered friends - who have been watching, reading, praying, and rooting for me.  You have been a big part of making this a great week.

Despite the disappointment of missing the cut after yesterday's great round.  That round was the best round of my life, one I will be able recall each shot for the rest of my life.

Minda asked me tonight my favorite moment of the week.  It was making a four foot left to right curler on my last hole yesterday to post a red number in a major.

I will write a lot more tomorrow on our way home with a three hour lay over in Denver.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 11, 2013: Red Numbers in a Major!

What an incredible day!  This was the round of my life. One under par 69 in a major championship and tied for the lead after 13 holes.

Without going into shot by shot details, for it is 10:30, keys to this round were:
  • Score to par on fairways missed - +1
  • Score on par-3's (four of the five par-3's required a 4-iron) - +1 because of at three putt.
  • Sand Saves - 2 for 2 (obviously leading the field)
  • No matter how low is was, I concentrated on making good shots for me.
There was many times where my thoughts wandered to answers to interview questions and other thoughts away from the shot at hand.  When they arrived I would close my eyes and shake my head to get them out.

My shortest birdie putt made was no shorter than 15 feet.  Always worked for the center of the green and rarely at the pin unless it was in the middle.  Made two great up and downs on 8, the hardest hole on the course today, and 9, either second or third hardest. to preserve red numbers.

Short game shots are much easier when bogey is ok.

When I finished Minda found me before I entered the scoring area and gave me a big hug and I was shaking.  When I found Dan, Patti, my parents after the round and my Dad gave me a hug I lost it.

After a leisurely lunch, went to the merchandise tent, walking all the way back up past the 18th tee.

Back to the hotel to rest, watch some of the tournament. And went to the Omaha Storm Chasers game where Manny Ramirez played for the visitors and an Omaha pitcher struck out the side on nine pitches.

Same approach tomorrow, play my game, hit good shots for me and I will play on the weekend.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 10, 2013: Championship Eve

Weather much cooler today: 10 degrees on the thermometer and down to only 50% humidity.  Still sweaty when some activity involved. 

My left elbow has been bothering me for since the Chapter Championships.  It feels like an strained/inflamed ligament attached to the forearm muscles that are used to pull the club down through impact.  It has taken a much slower warm-up process to loosen up the left arm.  One thing it has done is prevented my from gripping the club too hard at address and may be making it easier for me to swing freely.  I went to the Champions Tour physical therapy trailer this morning for help.  They gave me a pressure band and told me to take Aleve, ice it when I am done for the day and apply a warm compress in the morning.

Finally ran into Jeff Wilson on the range and with Jeff Brehaut and was able to get a photo of the three UOP Tigers from the early '80's.
K. Coombs, Jeff Brehaut, Jaeff Wilson

 Headed out for nine on the back with James Camaione again.  A different wind made the hard holes harder.  I did not hit it well, tired swings, so I am glad only nine today.  The greens are beginning to get that USGA brown color and firm.  If the greens are allowed to get firm, it will be very difficult to get the ball close.  The best chance to get close will be pins with backstops.
Purple Greens mean firm and fast
So far during the practice rounds I have received three rounds of significant applause or oohs and ahhs: two wedge shots that skirted past the holes as they spun back (one today I was told should have gone in) and one shot out of the rough, under trees and rolled onto the green.  So hopefully I will get one a day.
After the nine went out on the range to reestablish proper ball position.  With so many uneven lies, it is easy to loose the basic address positions that are key for my success.  Then to the putting green to do my standard putting practice of making 25 in  a row from three feet and 20 of 25 from six feet.  Chose a left to right putt to build confidence on those.  Accomplished the 3 foot challenge in one try and the six foot challenge on the second attempt.  Concentration and commitment are key to making putts.  The greens are so good that the putts are much easier to make.
My friend Dan decided to come and will stay at Nancy' cousins house.  Mom, Dad and Minda are all arriving around 7:30 tonight.  Mom and Dad's flight is two hours late.
I have determined that par on this course for me is 74.  In thinking that it will take pressure off tee shots on the harder par 4's.
Received good advise from many sources over the past couple days.  The most uplifting was from my UOP Golf Coach Dr. Glen Albaugh to play to do the best I can, for if I am playing just to make the cut, I probably won't.  And knowing me, I would miss by one.
I tee of at 8:34 tomorrow morning.  For live scoring, make sure to have the Senior Open site available.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 9, 2013: A Round with an Old Friend and Some Press

Got some press from three places today.

A story focused on my UOP teammates Jeff Brehaut and Jeff Wilson, mentions me late in the article. Our local paper, Camas-Washougal Post Record, ran a full version of this web preview today.  And a quick mention in The Columbian Community Sports page.

I also received from e-mails from some old friends from my El Caballero days.  Rich Greenwood, now a golf professional in So Cal, and David Solomon, Morris Hatalsky's nephew.

In watching tour events I have always wondered how I would handle teeing off so late.  Today I got a little taste with a 2:40 starting time.  Slept a little late for me, you know 7 am, hit the laundry, watch the end of Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close, and finally head to the course about 11:30 for lunch. Had a leisurely lunch and talked with a couple amateurs from Atlanta who wondered why pros get $1k for posting a 36 hole score, while they get nothing when the rules would allow them to win $750 in gift certificates.  Money that could be sent to their home clubs.

Hit the range, where I shake Duffy Waldorf's hand in the middle of a short game lesson, to practice pitch shots out of the three cuts of grass and wedge shots from 50 to 120 yards.  These are key shots to my success.  Don't want to hit balls because the heat is so overwhelming that I don't want to waste energy.

I am glad to play with Duffy today.  It may have been since the 1980 Calabasas Park Country Club Junior Club Championship since I played with him.  My maternal grandparents were big fans of his.  He signed a hat for my grandmother's 85 Birthday when he played in the Tournament of Champions at La Costa one year.

Also in our group is James Camaione, an amateur from Upland, CA who knows Duffy well.  He is very funny.  Duffy still hits it long.  On the first hole I have hit a PW from 120 while Duffy has about 70 yards. On the second hole, a 540 par-5, he hits a hybrid out of a fairway bunker to the middle of the green.  As I told the spectators on the first tee, that is the difference between a tour pro and a club pro.

We talked a little discussing course strategy and general game strategy.  Did a little family catch up.  But the heat really made the end of the round difficult.  The heat index was reported to be around 110.  Drank much more water today.  Connor called the round grueling.  Here are some pictures:

Played ok tee to green today, didn't really try to putt on the greens.  Trying to reinforce what the correct shots are, particularly into the par-3's.  The front nine is fairly straight forward, the back is trickier: even more elevation issues and longer shots into the par 4's.  I barely reached the 18th fairway today with a slightly missed tee shot.

Met the cousin of my friend, Dan Crilley's, wife Nancy.  She is also trying to convince him to come and bring his son Eric.  They will decide tomorrow and drive from Denver.

Tomorrow just nine holes, the back nine.  Giving up a chance to play with Corey Pavin to do so.

Meet two gentlemen from Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, CA, site of the 2015 Senior Open.  I introduced myself and told them my paternal grandfather belonged there and that I played junior golf there when I was 8.  They were very excited.  It would be great to play there in this event.

Mom, Dad, and Minda fly in tomorrow.