Saturday, August 13, 2016

Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tournament - 8/13/2016 - Cabarrus Country Club (Concord, NC)

I've been on a roll lately and it's a really nice feeling.  After this round, my handicap index has dropped to a new 'career' low of 15.0 as of the August 15th revision.  In addition, my tournament scores have been consistently solid.

Since winning my first event in June, I posted back-to-back poor finishes in a pair of two-day major events (including the visit to Kiawah).  The day after that, however, I came back and posted a 2nd place finish with an 85 at TPC Piper Glen.  Then in the next tournament (another two-day major), I shot 87 at Cowan's Ford and 89 at Carolina Lakes to finish 4th.  After having to miss a tournament due to some much needed family time, I came back and posted another victory by shooting an 83 at Cabarrus Country Club.

This bumped me all the way up to 3rd place in the points standings and has me feeling really good as we head down the home-stretch of tournaments leading to the National Championship at Hilton Head in October.  As always... the details of my round are below for you to read through if you so desire.

Hole #14 - Par 4 - 345 Yards

I started things off with a fairly simple hole.  There was really no trouble to be found as there were holes on either side of us, so losing a ball would be a difficult thing to do.  With that in mind, I decided to hit my driver from the tee.  I had hit a slight pull, but it found the first cut of rough which was only marginally fluffier than the fairway, and on a lot of courses, it would have been the same height as the fairway.  That left me about 120 yards to the hole.  With the wind into our faces a bit, I choked down on a 9 iron and hit a solid shot that finished just above pin-high and about 19 feet to the right of the hole.  My birdie attempt broke more than I thought, but left me a simple 2 footer for par.

Hole #15 - Par 3 - 147 Yards

This is a short par 3, but it's all carry over the water.  I hit a solid 8 iron, but I pulled it left of my target.  I ended up in a very thick lie below the green and had no real shot at getting it close.  To be safe, I played left of the hole to take running off the green out of play.  My pitch landed where I wanted but ran out to about 20 feet.  Until the last few inches, my putt looked good, then it dove below the hole.  A tap-in for bogey to put me at +1 though 2 holes. 

Hole #16 - Par 4 - 347 Yards

Even though it's listed at 347 yards, this hole was playing more like 370 and it was into the wind.  I would have ordinarily hit a driver from this tee, but because there was some trouble on the left side, I decided to be safe and hit the 4 iron.  I struck it well, up the left side, but it finished just off the fairway in the first cut of rough again.  I was left with about 160 yards into the breeze, so I took a 6 iron.  Even though I made solid contact, it started right and drifted on me, finishing to the right of the green.  I hit an okay shot from the rough that finished about 15 feet from the hole, but I was unable to convert that for par so I took another bogey.

Hole #17 - Par 4 - 350 Yards

A downhill dogleg to the left with a trap at the corner.  My target was a tree at the end of the fairway to the right of the bunker at the corner.  I hit a near perfect 4 iron and left the ball in a great position.  From about 130, I hit a very poor 9 iron that never had a shot.  It finished below the green on the right side.  I managed to hit one of the best shots of the day from there to about 5 feet and made the putt to save my par.

Hole #18 - Par 5 - 484 Yards

I've started looking at par 5 holes as birdie opportunities instead of holes where I can blow-up... which is what made this such a disappointing hole for me.  I hit a decent tee shot, but the breeze pushed it right and it caught the fairway bunker.  I hit an extremely heavy 6 iron from there that didn't advance very far.  From that position, I had no shot at the green, so I laid back with a 5 iron to keep it short of the creek fronting the green.  I was left with about 50 yards and hit a solid, but pulled lob wedge to about 27 feet.  I had my first real putting troubles from there as I missed the first putt by about 6 feet and was unable to make that for bogey, so I took an ugly double on a fairly simple hole.  That put me at +4 through my first 5 holes, which was my target going into the round.

Hole #1 - Par 5 - 486 Yards

Another par 5 into the wind.  On the tee, I wanted to make a good swing and just put myself in position to lay up to a good number.  Although I hit it well, the ball drifted right on me and finished in the rough.  I was able to punch a 4 iron below the tree and run it up to leave me about 130 yards.  My 9 iron was directly on line but I caught it just a little heavy.  It found the green but I was about 40 feet from the hole.  A really solid two-putt from there gave me a par.
Hole #2 - Par 4 - 332 Yards

Of all the tee shots I hit with a 4 iron on this day... the one from this tee box was the worst.  I pushed it right and it found the rough and left me with some tree trouble.  The lie was good in the rough and I had only 1 overhanging limb to contend with so I took aim at a tree beyond the green well to the left of the flag and played for a fade with an 8 iron.  I executed the shot perfectly and watched as the ball drifted towards the pin.  Ultimately, it settled just over 20 feet from the hole.  I missed that putt, leaving me a 4 footer... but I yanked that and had to tap in for a disappointing bogey.

Hole #3 - Par 4 - 330 Yards

A solid 4 iron from this tee left me no more than 130 to the hole.  It was into the breeze still, so I choked down on an 8 iron and hit it just to the right of the flag, but a little shy.  From 16 feet, I blasted my putt and watched it roll 7 feet beyond the hole.  I couldn't make the curler coming back for par and settled for a second consecutive three-putt bogey.  I was now +6 through 8 holes on the day.

Hole #4 - Par 4 - 334 Yards

I took a very aggressive line with my driver over some trees on the corner of the dogleg (which turned to the right).  This put me in perfect position and left me 94 yards to the hole.  Unfortunately, that put me between clubs.  My sand wedge from that position would have been too much, but a lob wedge wouldn't have been enough.  This led to a three-quarter swing with my sand wedge and the ball ended up on the front of the green, almost 50 feet shy of the hole.  I hit an awesome putt from there that peeked in the left side of the cup but didn't drop.  That left me a tap-in from about a foot for par.

Hole #5 - Par 3 - 158 Yards

I hit a choked-down 7 iron on this hole that started at the right side of the green, but the wind pushed it a little too far to the right.  The ball caught the fringe and then trickled down into the bunker on that side.  I hit a fairly decent shot from there, but the ball ran out to about 18 feet beyond the hole.  I hit the second-best putt of the day (the best is coming up) and it rolled into the center of the cup for an up & down out of the trap for par.

Hole #6 - Par 4 - 352 Yards

Another shot hole with the wind at our backs... another 4 iron off the tee.  Even though I caught it a little off the toe, I found the fairway and left myself about 155 to the hole.  I knew I'd rather be short than long, so I took an 8 iron from that position instead of a choked-down 7 iron.  I caught it perfectly and the ball carried just beyond the hole, hopped once and stopped.  From 20 feet, I had the ball perfectly on line, but it stopped trickling just shy of the hole, so I had a tap-in for a 3rd straight par and I was just +6 through the first 11 holes.

Hole #7 - Par 3 - 137 Yards

This tee shot was nearly an identical distance as the 8 iron I hit off the previous fairway, so I used the same club from this tee.  I didn't catch it quite as solidly and I started it a little right, but it caught the green.  I had over 40 feet left, and coming up the slope, I left it about 6 feet shy.  I was unable to make that putt and had to settle for a tap in bogey to move me to +7 with only 6 holes to play.

Hole #8 - Par 5 - 473 Yards

I'll be honest.  I stood on this tee feeling great.  I was striking the ball well... I was hitting some good shots around the greens... and my putts (with a few exceptions) were all looking good.  This was a short par 5 that turned to the right.  I just wanted to get the ball around the corner and I figured I could take it up over the trees on the right.  I hit it about 3 yards further to the right than I intended and the ball didn't clear the final tree, nipping a branch and dropping down into the rough.  This left me about 190 to the hole, but out of a really thick lie in the rough.  I figured if I hit it solidly, the ball would run up towards the green.

With the thick lie, my hybrid got slowed down significantly and the ball only ran about 160 yards.  I then turned what should have been a fairly simple 30 yard pitch into a disaster.  I caught the ball off the hosel of my lob wedge, which pushed it into a horrible lie on a downslope of a bunker.  I thinned that into the lip and it fell back into a horrible position.  I barely escaped from there and got it onto the green.  I was left with a putt from about 30 feet for a bogey.  I didn't come close and made the 4 footer for a double.  I was now +9 with 5 holes left in my round.

Hole #9 - Par 4 - 348 Yards

There was trouble on both sides of this hole, so putting the tee shot in play was my focus.  A 4 iron that I caught slightly heavy found the fairway and left me about 160 to the hole.  It should have been a perfect 7 iron distance, but I caught that heavy as well and left it in the fairway short of the green.  I didn't want to have a rehash of the previous hole, so instead of opening the face up on my lob wedge, I tried to play a lower pitch shot.  It carried a little deep onto the green and left me with a tough putt above the hole.  I really couldn't figure out if the ball was going to turn right off the slope or turn left.  Luckily, a playing competitor left his ball a few feet further away than I did on a similar line.  I watched his putt break slightly left, which gave me a good idea of what mine would do.  From 16 feet on exceptionally fast greens... down the hill... I hit a perfect putt and watched as it rolled into the heart of the cup to save my par!

** NOTE - When we tallied up the scores for the front side, I had posted a 41.  Because I was in my own little zone, I hadn't been paying much attention to what my playing competitors had been doing.  One of them had posted a 40.  This kinda of took me by surprise because what I had remembered of how he had been playing, it seemed to be much worse than that.  When I looked at the scorecard, I realized his poor holes were early on and while we were playing up the finishing holes on the back side.  In looking at everything, I was going into the final 4 holes with a 2 stroke lead on him.  

Hole #10 - Par 4 - 334 Yards

I made my poorest decision of the round on this hole.  It was a short hole and there was no need for me to hit a driver.  Still, when I got to the tee and I looked down the fairway, it appeared wide open... especially on the right side.  The left side had some thick tree trouble, and if you went too far left, there was some OB... but overall, it appeared to be a hole I could get aggressive on.

I aimed up the right side of the hole, over a bunker that I needed about 200 yards to carry.  I then took an aggressive swing and pulled the ball.  I watched as it cleared the bunker up the left side, and then disappeared into the darkness of the trees.  I hit a provisional, which I bailed on and pushed way right.  I was nervous driving up to find my ball, but luckily my playing competitor spotted it up in some wood chips.  I was left with no clear path to the green.  My only real shot was a low punch that would run up onto the green.  I tried that with a 4 iron, and I thought I had executed it perfectly.  Sadly, it caught one last tuft of rough and killed it, leaving it 50 yards short in the fairway.  I hit a really good shot from there to about 9 feet, but I misread the putt and had to settle for a bogey.  I was now +10 with just 3 holes to go.

Hole #11 - Par 5 - 480 Yards

From this tee, I hit my best drive of the day.  It was a rope that finished in the middle of the fairway.  With some trouble left, I didn't want to get too aggressive.  I had about 223 yards to the hole, but if I mishit my 3 wood... it could have gone OB left.  Instead, I took my hybrid and figured if I didn't get to the green, I'd leave myself a fairly simple pitch.  I tugged it just slightly and the ball ended up short of the left-side bunker.  This left a fairly simple pitch which I managed to get to about 7 feet... and then I converted that for my first birdie of the day!  

Hole #12 - Par 3 - 129 Yards

This is a super short par 3 that plays entirely down hill.  I had measured it at about 115 yards to the flag, and it was playing about a club downhill.  Still, I didn't want to be short, so I played a pitching wedge.  I caught it VERY heavy and I ended up directly on line with the flag, but short and in the fairway.  I hit what I thought was a good pitch to about 6 feet.  It was a quick little putt that I could have sworn was going to turn left but somehow, it turned right and stayed on the lip.  I tapped in for an unexpected bogey.

Hole #13 - Par 4 - 369 Yards

Heading back into the wind and being uphill, I knew I couldn't use my 4 iron off this tee.  I opted to take a slow, easy swing with my driver and just try and get the ball in the fairway.  I managed to do that, but it was a short shot, measuring only 204 yards and leaving me about 162 yards up the hill to the hole.  I hit a solid 6 iron which finished just off the right side of the green.  A chip which I thought was going to settle next to the cup (and nearly went in) ended up running 12 feet beyond the hole.  My putt for par was nearly perfect but died off to the left at the last instant and I had to settle for a tap-in bogey to end my round.

** NOTE - After posting a strong 41 on the front, I posted an almost as strong 42 on the back to total 83 for the day.  I had a bad feeling in my gut that the missed putts on 12 and 13 may haunt me.  When we got back to the scoring area, none of the scores were posted yet.  While speaking with a few others from the club, it appeared that my 83 was leading.  In the end, it was good enough, by a single stroke, to hold on and win!  This was my second tournament victory of the year and I've now finished 2nd, 4th and 1st in my last 3 tournament events.
Round Stats

  • Score - 83
  • Penalty Strokes - 0
  • Putts - 36
  • Fairways - 7 of 14
  • Greens in Regulation - 8 of 18
  • Up and Downs - 3 of 9
  • Sand Saves - 1 of 2

There's a quick turnaround on this one as the next tournament is just 1 week after.  We're playing a course I REALLY enjoy and I'm very much looking forward to it... and hoping that my solid play over the last month or so will carry over and mean another finish in the money.

Until the next time...


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