|"You'll be hearing from our|
lawyer for that one."
|"And for my third round pick I was really torn|
between Elkington and Billy Andrade but I went
with Elkington and oh boy am I glad I did."
At that stage of my golfing career, I was still relatively new to the game having picked it up in earnest to fill the void that was created when I was excused from my college lacrosse team six years earlier (that's a whole other column, if not a series of columns) but I had gotten good enough that I could post something in the mid 70's on an easy course under ideal conditions.*** I distinctly remember on the flight down making a commitment to myself that I wasn't going to waste this opportunity by leaving my swing in a South Beach bar on Sunday night. Our plan was to go out hard on Saturday night, spend the day at the tournament on Sunday, grab some dinner, get a good night's sleep and then be primed for our 10:00 a.m. tee time on Monday. I just needed to stick . . . to . . . the . . . plan.
SUNDAY AT DORAL
Everything was right on schedule until we hit the grounds of Doral on Sunday and met our man on the scene who didn't hand us tickets but instead gave us each a small round badge. "What do these give us access to?" we asked . . . . "Everything" he said . . . . "Uh oh" I thought. To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, "the best laid plans of mice and men (who have just been given access to every corporate tent at a professional golf tournament) often go awry."
|"I'm telling you it rides like a dream|
and the stereo? Forget about it."
When the tournament was over we worked our unlimited access for as long as possible by sitting on the clubhouse patio a couple of tables over from Elkington as I barely resisted the urge to walk over and tell him how much his victory meant to me on a personal level. At one point, a Golf Channel reporter with a cameraman in tow (his name was Scott Van Villet or something) came over to talk to us as he knew a member of our crew (cool but a distant second to my Winn McMurray encounter at last year's U.S. Open - The U.S. Open Update). As the sun went down we were kindly asked to move on at which point we realized that our car was about a half mile away on the other side of the course. Luckily for us, we stumbled upon a four seated golf cart with the keys in it and, after a quick look around to make sure the coast was clear, we jumped in and started it up. We made it approximately four feet before we were surrounded by security guards. Apparently our badges had expired.
At that point we were completely spent so we drove back into South Beach and went out for another five hours. All I remember is that we ended-up in an apartment somewhere downtown that had an all black toilet (funny how you remember the color of the toilet when you spend about ten minutes with your head directly above it). My last thought before things went dark, "I'm breaking 80 tomorrow."
THE BLUE MONSTER
|"Hope you brought your|
"A" game big boy."
For those who watched this past weekend, you know that the first hole is a very short downwind par 5. I either somehow managed to steady myself or I made so many mistakes in my swing that they all cancelled each other out because I pounded my tee shot down the middle and then did it again with my 5-wood. The next thing I knew, I was staring at a 30 foot eagle putt to start the round. After looking at it from at least eight different angles, I left it 15 feet short. (Noooooooo!!!!!!!!!) Then I stepped-up and drained the birdie putt (Yaaaaayyyyy!!!!!!!) Here is everything else I remember about the next five hours:
1. I hit into 19 bunkers (I know this because I started writing them down after the 8th one in the first 7 holes);
2. The 13th hole is a 245 yard par 3 that was playing into the wind so I hit driver, popped it up and had a full 9-iron for my second shot;
3. At one point, one of my playing partners got so frustrated that he played an entire hole just walking along whacking his ball one-handed with a 6-iron like a polo player without a horse;
4. I split the 18th fairway with my tee shot, then hit a 5-wood onto the front edge and promptly three-jacked it to shoot 98. (I'm mentally exhausted just remembering how I felt on that 18th hole).
I gained a whole new respect for tour players, especially the guys like John Daly and Roger Maltbie who used to do it week in and week out under the same adverse conditions that I faced that day. I got another crack at the Blue Monster seven years ago. This time I played it from the blue tees but didn't fare much better as evidenced by the fact that my 5-iron is at the bottom of the lake to the left of the 10th fairway after I sent it in looking for my ball (FGR, February 10, 2012). I guess I shouldn't feel too bad considering one of my picks for this past weekend, Adam Scott, did the same thing on the 8th hole on Friday (with just the ball, not the club). From there he shot 74, 71 on the weekend and lost by 7. He should have splashed the club on Friday. At least then he would have had a story to tell.
|"Take a straight and stronger course|
to the deep end of the pool . . . "
** There are not many golf careers as curious as that of Tommy Tolles. He finished 2nd at the '96 Players, 3rd at the '96 PGA, 3rd at the '97 Masters, 5th at the '97 U.S. Open but never made the cut in a major after '97 and has spent most of his time since toiling away on the Nationwide Tour. He's golf's version of every actor in The Breakfast Club.
*** My fairly rapid rise (descent?) to a single digit handicap was a direct product of (a) working at a golf store (that's also several other columns) with an indoor hitting cage for three years and (b) shamelessly milking the family membership at my dad's club as a student until the pro asked me how many times they were going to let me repeat my senior year. It was always a little dicey on those midweek afternoons in October when he'd ask "how's school going?" and I'd respond "great, thanks" and then put my head down and walk to the first tee.
Email the FGR