After some work, I was able to squeeze in my second Match Play of the week. Fortunately, this was the gross event and I did not have to give 11 strokes to my playing partner. Arriving early at the course, I practiced my chipping and putting. I have not played in a while, so I thought it was time to practice. I had time to chip with my 52º wedge and putt a few balls. When my opponent, Don Secord, arrived, he did the same. After about 5 minutes, we both decided that it was time to head to the first tee.
On our way down, we talked about handicaps both trying to judge the other player. As it turns out, Don is the defending Champion and has won several Club Championships in the past 10 years. After hearing his résumé, I felt that I had a tough road head.
Don is recently coming back to golf this year and as such only has a few rounds under his belt. The first few holes were hard to tell if he was as good as everyone suggested, but he soon raised his short game to confirm his reputation. Although he was down three at the turn, I was not sure he was out of the match.
Highlights for me on the front, I birdie the 7th and 8th hole with two very long putts. I was rolling the ball well on the first nine and as such, I walked towards the 9th green 1 under. Unfortunately, after a 3-jack, I gave this hole away. Fortunate for Don because he would have been down 4 after 9 holes.
As we moved to the back nine, something crazy happen. I lost my game and Don found his! After the 12th hole, he was only down 1. After paring the front, I went a smooth 6 over on the first 5 holes and was very fortunate to be up 1 after 14 holes. The 15th hole is a very short par 3 and given Don’s brilliant short game, things did not look bright for me. However, after both of us missing our birdie putts, we walked off the green with pars.
The 16th is a long uphill par 5. Neither of us was in any real trouble, but Don was just off the back and I hand a 35 foot putt for birdie. As expected, Don chipped very close and I conceded his par. I took my time and struck a brilliant putt – unfortunately, it lipped out for birdie and to the 17th tee still up 1.
The 17th hole is a long, over water hole and the pin was a little deeper than in the picture. The white flag was a perfect 6 iron for me. At 169 yards, I hit a solid shot on the green just 15 feet right of the pin. Don, unfortunately, was at the back of the green on the right. He had a long devilish putt which he hit 8 feet long. I hit my first putt about 5 feet long and was wondering where my short game went. Don missed his come back putt and I made mine, thus closing him out 2&1.
Our gross Match Play game was great fun. We laughed, joked, told stories and focused on our games when required. Meeting Don was a great bonus to a fun round of golf. His reputation is well-earned and after he has a few more games under his belt, he asked for a rematch. Of course I immediately agreed!
I am on to the second round of the gross Match Play tournament. I am not sure who I am playing yet, but I am already looking forward to it.
Thanks Don for a great match!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!