What transpired was a very strange tale. I was swinging poorly in the warm up and to be truthful my heart wasn't in it. I couldn't find a tempo or swing that gave me any encouragement. My bogey at the first put me two shots ahead of the previous day's efforts immediately. I made a par at the second and a superb up and down to save par at the third. A par at the fourth and I was through the opening phase in just one over par but having not hit any shot of quality.
As we played the fifth the heavens opened and I was to have the first of two massive slices of luck. I hit the fairway and for some inexplicable reason pulled the five wood when a hybrid or mid iron would have done. I hit it down the right into longish grass. My allotted five minutes was nearly up when we found it. I chipped it out and readily took a six. I dropped a shot at the sixth as well, hitting a poor hybrid off the tee into a bunker. I rode the bogey train on the seventh and eighth thanks to poor tee shots. Five over par on the ninth. A par would have got me out level with my handicap. A good drive down the left left 162 yards into the wind. I pulled the five iron and fired the first decent shot of the day into the heart of the green. An uphill right to left putt from six feet was holed for a rare birdie. Out in a respectable 39 shots (+4 gross).
I made a mess of my approach to the tenth and a bogey was result. I hit a bit of a hook with my hybrid at the 178 yard par three eleventh. It found the back edge but I faced an evil downhill left to right putt from fifteen feet. I could easily been staring at a five foot return putt. I aimed at least five feet left of the hole and hit it with a feathery touch. It reached the crown of the slope and gravity took over. The line was good and pace was a good as it could be. It was tracking and found the centre of the hole for a birdie.
I'd been fighting my driver all day and it bit back on the next when I hit a pull left. I hacked it out of the rough and then hit a fat approach. I couldn't get up and down and recorded a nasty double. The short game saved me at the thirteenth when I chipped stone dead having missed the green to make par. This brought me back to the fourteenth. The scene of the crime twenty four hours earlier. The drive was right but I had a shot through the trees to the green. I hit it clean and thought it was going to get to the green but it kicked left. I chipped close but couldn't make the putt.
I managed to make a rare par at the sixteenth thanks to the second decent shot of the day with a six iron into the green. Two putts and get away quick. I missed the green right at the penultimate hole but holed from nine feet to make par. One hole left and I knew the score was good. It was time for the second even bigger slice of good fortune. I hit a shocking drive. Pushed right it was destined for the out of bounds. It hit the trees and all seemed lost until it bounced towards sanctuary and dropped. Was it in or was it out? I nailed the provisional and held my breath. It was in and I had a shot. A chip out and an iffy five wood to one hundred yards made a six seem a possibility. I thought I'd hit the wedge heavy but it landed four feet away and I'd hole the putt to save par.
Back in a superb 38 (+3 gross) to give a total of 77, net 66 (-4). What a round. Not only was it a personal best score around Royal Ascot in competitive play but it was going top be good enough to get me a cut and achieve the goal for 2012 of a 10 handicap. Welcome to route 66.
What has left a bitter taste is the fact that I really didn't strike the ball well in the second round. I got it round and the short game and putter were on fire but I was really fighting the swing throughout and never felt confident over the ball. If I'd only made a double at the first and a double at the fourteenth in round one and I'd have done enough to finish top three in both events.
The goal is definitely to hit single figures before the season ends. However the bigger desire is to learn how to hit it properly with the one plane swing. It shows I can get it round in good numbers even when I'm "off" but I want to marry good ball striking and good scoring. I still need to cut out the disaster holes that creep in too often but clearly the bad shots are still in play more often and that has to be good. Last year I could carve it right or hook it left and never knew where the bad shot was going. Now I have taken the right out of play most of the time and the left shot isn't as destructive.
It's fantastic to hit route 66 and card such a good score. The glass is positively overflowing and I'm oozing confidence. The work doesn't stop and I'm already working on my swing to try and stay on top of the ball at impact and not move my head forward as highlighted in my last lesson. I'm not gifted enough to rest on my laurels and have to graft for any success I get. Still it's good to know I'm getting the rewards for the time and effort I'm putting in. Having failed to make a cut in the club championship it has come as a huge shock to perform so well having made the second round. It has only served to fuel my desire further and prove to myself that I can do it when it counts.
I'm definitely getting my kicks on route 66.