Before I start analyzing my tournament round I want to post about my first sub-80 round. I shot a 79 yesterday and it felt great! My goal for the day was to see how I played while mentally and physically drained so I walked 36 holes in heavy pants on the hottest day of the year in Oregon (it only got to 81, but was fairly humid and much hotter than normal). I played okay on the first round: shot an 84 on the Greenback course at Heron Lakes form the blue tees, then joined a three-some on the Great Blue course starting at 5 pm. They were playing from the whites so I teed it up with them there. The course plays 6,050 yards from the whites, so a bit short, but still a tough track. I shot 38 on the front with one birdie, one bogey and a double on a par 5 purely from making a poor decision and trying to go for it with a 3-wood from 255 yards into the wind.
On the back 9, I actually hit three balls in the water, but made a bogey on two of those holes and then a double on 17 to put me at 7 over for the round entering the 18th hole. It’s a longer par 4 with water all down the right side. I pushed my drive (lefty, so pushes go left) into a fairway bunker 150 yards from the hole. I hit this exact shot during the tournament at Pumpkin, so new it was in the bag. Pulled out the 7-iron and made a good pass, sending the ball to the center of the green, which I could barely see as the sun had already set. Walking up, I noticed there was about 40 feet of putting between me and my first 79. I was more nervous on these putts than anything in the tournament round. I hit my lag well and it ended up pin high but 2 feet right due to slope I didn’t read well in the darkening eve. Nervously, I rolled the ball over a ball mark I didn’t see, but it fell in the cup and finally I hit my goal of shooting in the 70s. Great feeling.
Now on to the tournament round.
I’ve been haunted by this round for the past three days. The cliche is true in 20/20 vision and I wish I could reverse time and slap myself around a bit entering those late-round holes. But, it’s through these experiences that we learn: investment in loss.
At first I thought physical fatigued had set in and caused me to make bad shots and score high, but after pondering the round I realized that it was mental fatigue that caused me to make poor choices on the final holes, creating some blow-ups. It began on the eighth hole of the round. Pumpkin only has one place where water is available on the course and I had run out a hole before. With the sun getting brighter, I felt parched after finishing the ninth hole. I ran between it and number 1 to try and find water before teeing off, but the clubhouse was too far away and I didn’t have time to stop in. Standing on the tee box, my mind was thinking about how thirsty I was and instead of sticking to my game plan of hitting 80 percent drives and I let one rip, pulling it way right of the fairway. From there I hit a poor 6-iron and then rushed a couple of bad chips, it was my first double of the day and purely caused by losing my game plan. I got water shortly after that, but the mental lapse had changed the overall feeling of the round. My concentration had been broken and even though I was only 2 over for the next three holes something had changed.
Entering the 13th hole, I was 4 over for the day and playing well. This is the real turning point, though. I hit a bad “safe” 3-hybrid off the tee and then tried to be a hero by making an overly tough shot from a horrible lie instead of taking my medicine and laying up. Before the round, my goal was to play consistent and lay up if I was in a spot where the odds are strongly against successfully hitting the green. Since my game had been going south, I went for it instead of playing safe and it cost me in the form of a triple bogey. The exact same thing happened on the tenth hole (my quad bogey hole) where I could have laid up and tried to save par or go for the easy bogey, but got too greedy and ended up in a hazard.
These are things I never would have learned if not for trying them in a tournament. I’m still proud of my round and in all honesty am glad for the mistakes I made. It is the mistakes that I will remember and learn how to not repeat them down the road.
I have a lot more thinking to do about this over the next three days, and then have a two-day two-man best ball tournament at Rose City this weekend. Having a partner is a different dynamic and I’m excited for yet another new experience.
Thank you to all the wonderful Twitter peeps for donating to The Dan Plan based on the number of birdies I sank in my first tournament round. It was awesome to get two birdies at Pumpkin Ridge and to have such amazing support!