Yesterday I competed in the 22 Wing intersection golf finals. The format for the intersection matches was a 2-person scramble / match play. After 5 months of league play, it all came down to one match between the two top teams. The league play set the ranking for the playoffs and since our team finished highest in the standings we were given the number one spot.
Having defeated the number 4 team last week, it was time to face the 2nd ranked team, as they also won last week. Walking towards the first tee, all four players knew that this year’s final would be a seesaw battle. And what a match it was!
Both teams sent out their top players trying to bring home the trophy and of course bragging rights. Serge and I represented our team and Wade and Chuck represented the other.
Serge is a smooth hitting player who has a very well-rounded game. He is sneaky long and uses his strong putting to shoot low scores. I am an all-around player whose strengths lie in keeping the ball in play and my short game. Wade is a solid and steady player who was on fire on the green. Chuck is a long ball hitter. He hits the ball straight and makes par 5s seem like short par 4s. Throughout the entire match, each player stepped up to make clutch shots.
Teeing off first, Serge and I landed in the water and the sand respectively. Wade and Chuck were in play and as a result were 50 yards farther than us after the first shots. Losing the first hole to a tap in birdie, Serge and I looked at each other, smiled and knew it was definitely not the time to panic.
Serge and I evened the match after 3 with a birdie putt and went one up after 5 with another birdie putt. Wade and Chuck evened the match on 7 after we put both our tee shots in the water. Serge and I regained the lead after birdieing the par 3, 8th hole. After splitting the 9th hole, Serge and I were heading to the back 1 up.
Throughout the front 9 both teams were throwing darts at the pins, hitting the ball long off the tee, but Wade’s putting was the great equalizer. He was on fire and could not miss within 20 feet. If the match continued the same way and Wade remained hot, things would not be rosy for Serge and I on the back 9.
As we walked to the 10th tee, Chuck commented that he was happy with their overall play because they shot 5 under and were 1 down. Not to shabby from his point of view.
The back 9 started very poorly for Serge and I. We lost 10 and 11 putting us down 1. When I say lost, well Wade and Chuck won the holes with excellent tee shots and solid putting.
The 12th hole was a dogs breakfast for both teams, but on 13, Serge birdied the hole himself returning the match to even. On 14, Wade and Chuck ran into a bit of trouble (their only poor hole of the round) and conceded the hole before we putted. Now we were 1 up heading to the 15th hole.
I have discussed the 15th hole before and it is my nemesis at Osprey Links. However, on this day the stars aligned and after teeing off first, both Serge and I were within 8 feet of the pin. Feeling good about our shots, we watched as Wade easily changed our mood. Wade hit an almost perfect shot! He landed his ball on the green 6 feet short of the pin and we all watched as his ball hit the hole and almost went in! As a result, he ended up 5 feet above the hole. We both made our putts and we walked to 16 with Serge and I up 1.
At this point, the line of the match was by Chuck. He said “I cannot believe he hit the hole and you will not tell him to pick it up!” Chuck said this several times, but us not conceding the putt stems back to earlier in the match.
On the second hole, everyone discussed the strategy of conceding longish putts early in the match, but conceding nothing down the stretch. With 3 holes to play, Serge and I were not conceding anything! The four of us had a good chuckle about our previous conversation on the 16th tee box.
The 16th hole was the pivotal hole for the match. It is a long par 5 up hill and it is not reachable in 2. However, to shoot well, each team needed a clutch drive and great second shot. Well, Wade and Chuck definitely did that as they were 50 yards from the green in the middle of the fairway in 2. Serge and I played up the 10th fairway around trees and were off the back of the green in 3. After chipping to a tap in, Serge and I watched as Wade and Chuck lipped both sides of the hole with their putts. We dodged a bullet there and went to the 17th hole, 1 up.
The 17th hole is very difficult. Fortunately, Serge stroked a smooth 7 iron to 15 feet below the hole on the first shot. The pressure was off our team. Chuck responded with a high draw to 20 feet above the hole. After we both 2 putted, it was off to the last hole and Serge and I were still 1 up!
The 18th hole is a bit of a risk reward hole. The green is elevated with rocks surrounding the left front of the green. And yesterday, those rocks were in play! It is important to hit a straight drive to have a chance of hitting the green on your approach shot. Fortunately, we were in play and had a shot at the green. Chuck, however, hit the longest ball of the day. His 300+ drive in the middle of the fairway set their team up for a 60 yard flip shot to a short sided pin.
After poor approach shots, Serge and I had a 60 foot putt left for birdie. Fortunately, Wade and Chuck were 20 feet from the pin, but the way Wade was putting all day, their chances of forcing the match into extra holes was very good. Serge and I both putted and our closest lag putt was to 8 feet. Both Wade and Chuck missed their birdie putts and we conceded their par putt. It was up to Serge and I to make our 8 footer for the win.
We talked about the break and agreed it was straight and he should not give the hole away. As I watched Serge go through his pre-shot routine, I was feeling confident he would make the putt. As he released his smooth stroke, it was right on-line and his ball fell into the heart of the hole. We had won!
The intersection finals was the best head to head match I played in years. Both teams were very strong and a back and forth battle was the result of strong competitors playing well when required. I want to thank Wade and Chuck for a great match and of course my partner for his strong play. I look forward to next year and hopefully a rematch.
Thank you to Osprey Links Golf Course for hosting the 22 Wing intersection matches all year. The course was in great shape and, as always, the customer service top-notch.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!