As you are aware, or not, I organized and I am participating in the Osprey Links Match Play Tournaments. The stroke and net events will determine the club champions and be awarded a parking spot for 2020 right beside the club house. It is a prestigious event and I have to say, the match I played yesterday was the most fun I have had in competition in a very long time!
My opponent was Bruce McIvor last year’s club champion. He has enjoyed reserved parking for 1 year and I thought that this was the year he would be knocked out of this prime parking spot. And, I was the player to do it!
I knew from all the talk that our match would be very challenging and that we would both have to play our best to win. Or at least not play poorly because neither of us would relent to let the other player get a foot in the door.
After a seesaw battle on the front, we finished even. Both us played to our handicaps and made a few fantastic and poor shots. For the most part, we played as expected with each winning 3 holes and halving 3. My best shot of the front was a 245 yard 3 wood to the 4th hole par 5, It was the first time on the green in 2 this year. I missed my eagle putt by 2 inches to the left; but walked off happy with a tap in birdie. Bruce’s best shot was on the par 3 second hole. When it left his club we both thought it was in the hole, but alas he had a tap in birdie of 2 feet. I knew I was in trouble if I did not stay focused on the match.
The back 9 was a different story. I started very slow and Bruce did not take his foot off the gas pedal. He went 3 up after 4 holes and did not seem to have any issues keeping me down. Then something slowly started to happen; I found my game and Bruce seemed to falter, just a little. My best shot on the back was a 40 yard chip to 2 feet for a bogey and halved the 14th hole. Bruce made 3 fantastic shots out of the woods (one on the 14th) that saved the hole each time. He was relentless.
With 3 down and 3 to go, I needed to stay calm and see what was going to happen. I did press on the long uphill par 5, 16th hole was rewarded with a very shot eagle chip (which I missed poorly), but I was able to win the hole. Now, I am two down. The par 3, 17th hole is always a bugger and as it happened, Bruce hit his worse shot of the day put his ball in the water. I walked off 17 only one down!
Walking to the 18th tee, I had chance to extend the match! I hit my ball very well, but it landed in the fairway trap on the right about 110 yards from the pin. Bruce continued to struggle and hit is ball into a tough spot and had to chip out. My approach shot was just short and was perched between some large rocks on a walking type path about 10 yards short of the green. Bruce hit another great iron and was 25 feet from the pin for par. I hit my shot up and it stopped about 8 feet from the pin. With both of us putting for par, things were looking up for me!
Then Bruce did what all great players do; he sunk his 25 foot putt to close me out 1 up. It was a great finish to a solid round. When the ball went in I said “you are kidding me!” I gave him a big smile and said “that is the way to win a match, Congrats!” We removed our hats shook hands and walked off the green friends.
A few facts about Bruce. Being +65, he could play from the golds, but chose to play from the whites. He is a long hitting player with a great short game. Most of all, he is a gentlemen. It was wonderful playing and chatting with Bruce for 18 holes. I hope we get a chance to play another round very soon.
I wish the results of our match was different, but I do not mind losing when the other player shoots a game worthy of winning. For competitors, you will understand what I mean. We both shot our handicaps and really, that is all we can ask when playing in a golf tournament. Thanks Bruce for a great round.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!