The opposition had the honour and one went left of the green and the other came up just short on the 229 yard par three opener. Mike responded first and found the left hand green side bunker. I struck my tee shot well but pushed it. It sailed way right of target and finished on the bank high and wide of the hole. I shouldn't have had a shot at all but I had a decent lie and although it was a little hit and hope it found the green. Mike had a few issues in the bunker and with one of the Calcot pair chipping stone dead I was faced with a left to right twelve foote. It dropped for the most improbable half.
I parred the first four holes which was fortunate as the Calcot pair were solid and par was required at every hole to keep the score level. I made an error at the par five fifth but Mike was there to save the day. Both Mike and I hit the green on the 178 yard par three sixth hole and with both opponents wide of the mark it looked like the first breakthrough. However a gutsy seven footer for par and missed birdie putts by both Mike and I meant we were still tied.
|The Volvo Matchplay - a big event for amateur golfers|
Two up became three at the tenth when both the Calcot pair made a real mess of what is a relatively straight forward hole. Granted we dodged a bullet at the par three eleventh. Having missed the green, Mike managed to scramble a par to secure a half. We won the twelfth to go four up and seven to play.
It seemed certain we'd give one back when both Calcot players found the green and Mike and I missed on the 187 yard thirteenth. I duffed my first chip and only put my next one ten feet away and faced a vicious downhill left to right putt. I was certain it was academic as surely one of them would make par. The greens had been slow all round. In fact they were bordering on embarrasingly so but they both managed to three putt. All of a sudden my putt mattered. I found a way to make it and the momentum shift was immense. We did enough at the fourteenth to get a half and lay dormie four up.
The end came swiftly as one Calcot player carved his drive right into the deep grass. Lost ball. The other hit it short and left. His attempted recovery found the fairway bunker and the next disappered into the vegetation. Another lost ball. Both Mike and I made a safe par and it was all over 5&3.
The result arguably flattered us as it was certainly a lot tighter than the score suggests especially on the front nine. In the end I think the pace of the greens got into their mind a little and there was little belief in any of their putts from range. I guess it must be hard to come from slick true surfaces to greens playing so much slower but at the end of the day, it is the nature of the event and you have to be able to travel and be competitive enough to win if you want to progress towards the regional final.
From a personal perspective I was pleased with how well I struck the ball all evening. I did get a little quick tempo wise from the eleventh to the fourteenth but Mike and I "ham and egged" well throughout. In the end I was only +9 gross and so came home three under my handicap. I've a lesson booked for Friday so hopefully I can build on these solid foundations and hope the recent blip was just that. A tiny glitch in an otherwise progressive season.
Mike and I are still waiting to find out the opposition in the next round although we have secured a home tie. If we can combine as a team like we did last night then we can be a tough nut to crack. So often it sems one or the other fails to bring their Z game let alone their A or B version. Last year was a big disppointment. We lost at home in the first round, in extra time at the 19th hole, courtesy of a chip in for birdie. It was good to get a win under the belt. Start the engine, we're off and running.