Friday, June 14, 2013

Mid-way Through Event in Wichita

I followed up my opening-round 68 with a second-round 67 to stand at -7 at the half-way point of the Tour's Air Capital Classic. Tight fairways, penalizing rough, and the occasional gusty Midwest winds have all contributed to tough scoring, and my effort has me in a large tie for 4th heading to the weekend. I have really played nicely, and I have a couple of cool stories from the opening two rounds that I want to share.

I was definitely nervous on the first tee on Thursday, but I was actually much more composed and in control than I had thought I might be in my first event of the year. I hit a very nice tee shot down the middle of the first fairway and thought that I was off and rolling. I faced a shot of 180 yards uphill and into a breeze to a back right hole location for my second shot into the opening hole. With plenty of room short and left of the flag, I decided that I would play a high cut that started at the left side of the green and hopefully would drift towards the hole. I felt comfortable with the plan and committed to the shot, but I executed the most atrocious five iron imaginable. I barely made contact on the bottom of the club and I sent a low, weak shot bouncing way short and right of the target. The ball nestled into the back of a short right bunker. I had lots of sand to cover and very little green with which to work. I was very impressed with my lack of panic in response to how poor that shot was. I calmly proceeded with my routine, and after one of the best bunker shots of my life, I walked off of the opening hole with a par.

Here's a story that is a little happier from beginning to end. The 17th hole at this event is cool because of the setting. It is the hole pictured in my post from a couple of days ago. A double decker grandstand surrounds the green, and the fans are loud and harsh. They boo poor efforts, beg for golf balls from the competitors, and cheer like mad for good results. The hole is a tough par three. With the tees up on day one, I faced a shot of 186 yards to a flag tucked over a bunker on a small shelf on the right side of the green. The wind was whipping into my face, but that was actually helpful because I knew that it would allow me to land a shot softly enough to keep it near the challenging hole location. I hit a four iron way up into the air to let the wind kill it, and it landed perfectly some four feet left of the hole and sat right there. I converted the putt for birdie, and the crowd went crazy. It was really cool.

Those two tales are neat anecdotes from the first 36 holes, but the real story is the quality of my game and, most importantly, my composure. I have hit some loose shots and had challenging stretches in each of the first two rounds, but I have managed to keep my mind in great position through it all. My scores are following. If I can continue to control my thoughts over the weekend, I know that I am playing well enough to do something special. I am definitely pumped up for this opportunity, but I will keep myself composed and present on the golf course. Most importantly, I will TRUST myself on every shot.

Thank you for following me. Come back here for full reports after the next two rounds.

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