So, 990 rated golf wasn't enough in my first tournament after deciding I was done with the amateur fields. I failed to cash by a stroke and walked away with a wry grin. The thing about that event was that I played absolutely terrible golf, with eleven bogey strokes, most of them unnecessary OB strokes. I felt comfortable, like I belonged in the division. This was completely different from my experience as a trophy only player through the first months of the year (and the last month of 2007).
I've never taken cash in a sanctioned tournament, so this was a solid milestone for me. In the first round my card consisted of myself, Anthony Bee, and Mike Frame. We started off on hole two which was a nice comfort position for me as thats where Evan and myself usually start things off after bombing drives to warm up across hole one's fairway. I was able to start strong and was a couple of strokes under par after we finished hole five. I held onto those strokes, picked up a few more to offset some bogeys as we moved into the section of the course that has turned into a hell run from the long tees with the changes we made last month. Holes 14-1, our final six holes, are rough. I came through limping with bogeys on 16 and 18 (though the bogey on 18 took a big save to get). Both bogeys came in pouring rain as the heavens opened as we closed out.
This left me going into round two with a 1 under 62. Tied for third in a field that was cashing out four spots out of nine competitors. With one man dropping out the cards were foursomes for round two. With the highest PDGA number I was placed on lead for card two. The rains stopped within half of a minute of the two minute warning blowing. My card was almost identical with the addition of Marty Peters. I started out on hole two again, as well. I started out with a couple of deuces to get into a comfortable position. After missing a few long and tricky birdie putts off of the cage and one from 15 feet that I couldn't focus on I managed to get myself into good position going into the hell run.
After a few pars it got tricky. I caught branches and landed 15 feet left of the short tee on hole 16, 350 out. A solid up shot put me to 20 out with a straddle from the schule, canned the putt. Hole 17 I threw directly into the woods and was left with a step out 330 foot hyzer bomb that I left 40 short with only a lean out left to a knee... I canned it falling. Hole 18 I managed to can a jumper and finished a solid 4 under 59. Totaled out at a 5 under 121 good for third place by a stroke and $75.00 for my first cash ever.
Fire in the Sky Open
Hot on the heels of the Vienna Open I headed down to Norwalk a day ago for Fire in the Sky. Here's my back story on Norwalk...
August 2006 - Kingston Open - First advanced cash.
July 2007 - Great Blue Heron Open - First sanctioned advanced win.
August 2007 - Kingston Open - First sanctioned advanced win against a tough field.
January 2008 - Frozen Toe Open - First open win unsanctioned, $150.00
May 2008 - May Madness Doubles - Big money doubles win unsanctioned, my share $80.00
So going into this I was really hopeful to keep my string of solid performances on the Great Blue Heron DGC up. Things were somewhat nervous, on Monday before the event I switched putters. For a lot of people switching putters is no big deal, they do it every six months. I'd stuck with beat up small bead aviar putt and approaches since late 2005. They were frustrating me and I was sick of trying to find new ones since Innova decided to do away with the small bead.... so I bought two slightly-used Discraft Pro-D Challengers from my friend Evan. In one week I'm certain they've shaved multiple strokes from my round scores. I'm completely confident in them, they're consistent, they feel amazing in my hand, they catch chains well... I can't say enough glowing things about them. I was playing consistent 980 golf before the event. Going in I was nervous over the change, but I felt confident that it would prove to be a positive move for me.
I stayed the night before over at the TD's place after playing their pre-tourney small money doubles round. Getting up early and with some ibuprofen in me I hit the course as they set up the baskets. Playing the easy run (15-1) I shot a 3 under par 3's (21 is supposed to play as a par 4) and felt very good about my putting. It was a huge confidence boost. In warm ups I putted like ass, but put it out of mind as I putted out near the teepad before the round started, banging home 25 of 25 18 footers to get myself in the right state of mind.
I started out slow, taking a double-bogey 5 on our second hole, hole 4. After managing a bird on 6 I slipped up with a bogey on 8. Erased that one with a birdie on 11. Played clean golf, parring the par 4's 12 and 13 and the par 3 14 going onto the island. Hole A played 800'+ and after a bomb first drive, clearing the 350 it required to get over the water and then 100 more I threw a straight rip to 20 feet for a 3. After playing close to Kev Daney and Keith Blakely all round this is where I started to separate myself. I held with them on holes B and C (C was interesting, par 3 on the scorecard but over 500' just to clear the water, we all took 4's first round). After we got off of the island it was 2, 3, 3, 2, 2, 3p, and then 3 on the par 4 21. Then came the big finish.
After taking a par on hole 1 I moved to hole 2, a 530 foot hole that plays par 4 because it takes close to 500 to clear the water on a straight shot. I virtually always clear slightly right, out to 420ish and take a forehand shot for a short putt for 3. I threw my drive into the water. Going from the drop zone for 3 I threw it into the woods to the right of the basket. Now, stuck deep I'm down to the one shot that surprises everybody when I pull it out: a short range lefty forehand that I worked on all winter. All that extends from the deep and thick schule is my forearm. I can't see the basket, it is around the bend requiring this forehand to be a sharp turnover from about 60 out. I threw a horrible shot. It came out of my hand on too hard of an anhyzer, it was at rocket speeds, and was destined to roll 75+ deep and into the schule or the water. The chains were in the way of this destiny. Crashed it home, to the amazement of everybody on my card. Finished the round with a 3 under 75 on the 24 hole round.
Chris Wojciechowski - 75
Keith Blakely - 78
Denny Velargo - 80
Kev Daney - 80
Kyle Schaecterle - 80
Round two I was greeted as I tossed in putts on hole 1's basket with words from everybody that heard I was in the lead: pressure's on. Repeatedly. My response to all of them was that there was no pressure. I would play my game, and if I lost playing my game I would be fine with it. Naturally, inside, I was a bundle of nerves. We were starting on a birdable hole and I hadn't put it near the pin for bird yet in practice. Blakely, my nearest competitor had taken a bird during round one. Yep, nerves. Add that to it being the first time I'd played with the lead in Open going into the second round, and the TD had informed me that the club had added $100 to the payout bringing the winning cash to $200.
I started out by putting myself three feet from the pin for a birdie. Keith's roc shot was killed by the wind and left him 50 out. He had proclaimed during the first round that he was an aggressive player, sometimes to a fault, and he proved it here. He ran the 50 footer as though it was for the win, left himself with a tester comebacker and missed it. Suddenly I'm up five on the closest competitor. He followed this up with one of the strangest moves I've seen from someone in his position.
For the second round in a row I put my drive in the drink on hole two. Neither round was I going for it, both rounds I had conflicting thoughts as I pulled through and ended up with a horrible toss. Following this all he had to do was go safe for guaranteed strokes on me. Instead he decided to go balls to the wall and attempt to launch his wraith all the way to the pin. It faded early. He was left following me to the drop zone. We both took bogey 5's on the hole. At this point I was officially five strokes ahead of all three guys on my card (Kev Daney and Denny Velargo).
Things went in a very consistent direction after this early mistake. I took par through consistent play and a few very solid save up shots until hole 10. During this time I let the guys around me continue to play their own games and tuned them out a bit, keeping to light idle chatter. A few of them made small mistakes and slipped a little further behind or had some birds and some bogeys to stay at five back. On hole 10 I managed a nice birdie 3. This was offset by a bogey 5 on 12... but a birdie 3 on hole 13 brought back that stroke. I parred the last hole before the island, 14.
The round before it was on the island where I managed to begin to distance myself from the guys on my card, getting off of it with 10 strokes. Round two I started off with a solid 400ish drive. But I'd come up well short on the up shot, throwing it maybe 350'. At this point I feel like Denny Velargo can start to make a move on me by canning a 25-30 footer for a 3. I nailed my 50 footer. He missed his putt. I parked the short hole B, then followed that up with a perfect second shot on C to come off the island in a perfect 8 strokes. The field was suddenly in the rearview mirror. I finished out with 2, 4, 3, 2, 2, 2, 4. By the point I hit that run I was beginning to try to play against my first round score, keeping track in my head of how far ahead of the previous round I was.
Stepping up to hole 18's 45 foot putt for deuce with OB 10 feet behind the basket I was talking to myself, but Kev Daney overheard me say "I'm not going to miss this putt." I just said it because I was convincing myself I could stay three ahead of the previous round. After nailing it he just looked at Keith and asked "How can we compete with that?" I came in with a 6 under 72.
Chris Wojciechowski - 147 $200.00
Kyle Schaecterle - 157 $160.00
Kev Daney - 159 $105.00
Denny Velargo - 159 $105.00
Keith Blakely - 163 $50.00
I show cash because I've also got to congratulate some guys... Kyle Schaecterle has played open for a long time, ignoring anybody telling him he should play Advanced. Finally he got his first sanctioned cash and a very solid one. Kevin Daney likewise got his first cash in Open, he's a relatively new open player like myself. Congratulations to both of you guys on solid play.
Thanks to the following:
1. Norwalk Area Disc Golf Association for putting on a smooth event. Congrats to Dustin Brummitt running his first sanctioned event, 55 competitors and it was run very smoothly. He did a great job and I recommend people checking out any event run by that awesome group of guys.
2. Poor Boy Discs, my merch sponsor, great guys.
3. Brad Schick, for not showing up. Thanks for letting me win one, Brad!
And to anybody that read this entire thing, you're nuts! But I'm so far feeling good. I've taken $275.00 in my last two events and my average round rating since Thrills at the Mills in May is now 991 per round. And I feel like I can not only keep that up but improve upon it because the Pro-D Challenger has been an incredible boost to my game over the past week. Best putter I've ever felt in my hand and it'll help me out if I manage to get into the Hambrick (86 people signed up when I submitted registration... 90 person cap). Here's to hoping I get a chance to cash at a National Tour event next week!