I played in my second Brent Hambrick Memorial Open this year. I have to start by saying that Paul Jay and the rest of the staff did a fantastic job with the tournament. Everything they did was top notch, and it was a great example of how a tournament should be run. It was great from the check in through the awards ceremony. The courses were in fantastic shape, the players party was a blast (food was amazing and you can't not love inexpensive alcohol).
Congratulations is in order for Brad Schick who is a stand up guy to play a round of golf with, and a stand up guy in general. Winning the Brent Hambrick Memorial Open after making the final nine for the first time last year, and taking second by a stroke. The atmosphere through the crowd was electric as we all anticipated a playoff between Orrick and Schick, but when Orrick missed for the first time all day on the 18th hole and Schick made his drop in the crowd exploded. Schick threw a putter tomahawk in celebration further than I've seen a putter tomahawk fly. Amazing. Congratulations Schick, you deserve it.
On to less important things...
I started out my tournament pretty badly. I took a pair of 6's on some of the harder holes of the course, back to back. Holes 13 and 14. The rest of the way on the Hambrick course I would go even. I would finish that round at a 6-over 87, and then the third round I would come in with an even-par 81. I really just had some issues with nerves. The fun part is that if you look at it, I missed cashing by six strokes. I can make excuses all I want, especially concerning the fact that I am really an admitted horrible bad weather player. You compare day one when the weather was horrible and day two where it was nice out and the ratings difference is striking.
But the fact is, I really wasn't prepared mentally for the charged feeling of teeing off at a national tour event on a card of 990+ players. I started off by overthrowing my first shot of the tournament, the drive on the next hole went into the woods as a grip lock. But I'm happy overall with how I played. I recovered well from those mistakes. I went into the second round, a wind filled torture-test, feeling great about how I held up overall. And really, for 14 holes of the first round I was in good shape. And then came the rains.
We went through a pair of rain delays leading up to my finally playing hole 4. After witnessing the first guy on my card tee off and slip, the next guy screw up a stand still shot... I decided to try a very slow and controlled step up into my throw. Naturally my plant foot came out from under me. I wound up in the water on the hole and took a circle 6. I was 2 under going into the hole. Walking up to the next hole I witnessed two guys on the next card slip. The next day many ams would complain about that same hole being a mud slick. I would also slip and wind up with a 5 on hole 6. Again I had a round where I felt like I played well, and it wound up looking like I played horribly. Rounds 1 and 2 would be rated 966 and 970.
Round 3 was a different story. Where day 1 there were some issues with my nerves and footing, but no issues on the green... day 2 would be a different story. I had a solid start off the pad but missed a lot of birdie putts over the first 18 holes. Going into hole 16 I was sitting at 3 over par. Off the teepad I threw deep into a copse of short pines to the left. Setting myself up for the shot out toward the pin, about 220 out, I joked with the guys on my card, "Coming out... I hope." Had a laugh and ripped off a perfect thumber, sneaking through a gap in the boughs and parking the hole. Dropping in the par I looked at Marcus Ranii-Dropcho (a very talented 15 year old kid, smooth off the pad but doesn't seem confident in his long putting game yet) and joked "Sometimes I like to pretend I know what I'm doing out here."
After parring 17 and 18 we'd get to the front 9, which is bird run for me. I would get through 1-4 without a mistake, including big par saves on 2 and 4. Hole 5 I'd park, hole 6 I'd hit a 30 footer, and then finishing on hole 9 I'd pin it and drop in for the deuce giving me an 81. Definitely the sort of finish you need to feel good about your game after a grueling tournament where you miss cash.
A quick shout out to all the great people I met at the event: Al Amato, Ryan Reid, Marcus Ranii-Dropcho, Aaron Walders, Biggie Cassidy, David Cox... all incredibly cool golfers I had the pleasure of golfing with during the event.
Another one to Jimmy "oh YEAH" Bates who tore up the Advanced Division, starting the event off with a personal best 1038 rated round on the Westside Course. Way to tear it up Jiminy.