Tournament summary: A few days before my flight into Charlotte, NC an old knee injury flared up. My left knee was injured from a basketball game last year, and I didn’t know how it would handle throwing on concrete tees all week.
As expected, I didn’t get good practice in the 3 rounds I spent on the course.
Round 1: I had little control with any aspect of my game, my left knee does more than you’d think, since I’m right handed. My shots were short of the landing zones I’d been practicing for and I was left with two options, ” Go for it or lay up for par” and I didn’t lay up once that round. My round ended and I was 11 shots off the lead.
Round2: I was able to adjust a bit because I knew what my body was capable of handling at this point. Coming into hole 17, I had put together a round good enough to move up the board, sitting at 59 if I 3′d out, and I really wanted to push it a bit more. I focused in on the new landing area (the pin moved left this round) and attacked it too hard; my forehand skipped long. This continued 2 more times before I stopped with the forehands and threw a putter in bounds for an 8. I had nothing left in the tank for hole 18 and finished at 65, right back where I started.
The tournament had ended for me. Coming in with an Injury, I failed to re-evaluate my goals, therefore playing ignorant and very greedy. Not ideal playing style on this type of course.
After the US championships, Ricky and I rested heartily for a few days, then drove to Destin, Fl to rest some more on the beach. This was good for my knee. Coming into the Mango healthy, I decided to let go of goals and pre- shot checklists. I opted to play, really play, so I went out, decided on a shot and threw it. I noticed my shots weren’t as pretty or controlled as I normally force them to be, but they had more energy on them and felt fluid.
Mango: Ricky aced in practice, I aced in round 2 and Kyle Webster hit two aces in one round. The energy of the event was flowing well. Many man hours were spent by a few hard workers setting up these two courses. Ricky and I had wonderful hosts, as well as the other touring players.
During each round I had a few big blunders but with such a free flowing playing style, I didn’t get bogged down with these mistakes. I kept within striking distance of the lead throughout normal competition.
The Safari final 9 was a dramatic place. A large gallery and never played 900′ holes can make things interesting and that’s how it went. Ricky and Nikko fed off of the crowd and really put on a show, draining long putts and smashing drives. My anti-social behavior kept me uncomfortable during these 9 holes, and I had nothing for these people. I tossed away 9 shots to Nikko and 8 to Rick.
A disappointing finish for me obviously; I loathe final 9′s. Preparing for an event, playing well for 3 rounds, just to be tested on a random track for the cash is ridiculous. My rounds and ratings place me as the 2nd best competitor for the weekend, but the cash I worked at getting traded hands in a random, luck-based environment. As a TD for an event, you want a show like this–drama, big putts and long drives–but set aside a side pool of cash for it or other prizes. I don’t think the tournament money should be suspended and rewarded to the victors of a safari 9 hole contest.