This is to show you that it’s never over. Good or bad you need to pay attention to your rounds all the way through because you want to allow something spectacular to happen…or avoid disaster when you think you are going to cruise to the clubhouse. That is why Tiger is so great, he never lets up mentally and plays every shot with equal importance.
Let’s start with the disasters where I thought it was over and didn’t pay attention.
Around 20 years ago the California State Amateur was played at Pebble Beach and Cypress Point. I qualified the first time I tried and playing Cypress Point was one of the highlights of my young career. The second time I tried to qualify, I played poorly and had no chance.
The third time is where we come to an amazing choke. The qualifying scores for the same tournament at the same course year after year generally end up at the same number. You know what you have to shoot before you even hit your first shot. I was having a a great ball striking day, but a poor putting day. With two holes to play I needed a birdie and a par. 17 is a par 5 and 18 is a wide open par 4.
On 17 I hit my second shot inside of 10 feet and in my mind, I was in. Well, I got a little too aggressive on the eagle putt and ran it 3 or 4 feet past and missed the comebacker…what a gag. So now I needed to birdie 18. I hit a good drive and hit my second shot really, really close. From the fairway it looked like it was on the lip of the hole and I started celebrating with my caddy. I get up to the green and see I am about 3 feet away. The other guys I was playing with decided to play hockey around the green, chipping and putting, so I had quite a few minutes to think about how I could miss this putt.
Turns out the best way to miss it was to try and steer it in and leave it short. YES…you read that right and I missed by one.
The next best choke job was in a Nationwide Tour Monday qualifier. I was in the afternoon wave, so I knew what I had to shoot. Again I had two holes to play and needed one birdie to make it. On 17 after a perfect 2-iron off the tee, I hit a 9 iron at the pin, heard a “clank,” go to the green and found I had made the shot for an eagle.
All I needed was a bogey on 18 and I’m in. The last hole was about 360, slightly down wind, the parking lot was about 30 or 40 yards left of the fairway and green and you could literally hit it 100 yards right and still hit the next shot on the green. I had some people following me and I wanted to show off and drive the green and I felt safe as I never hit hooks in those days.
I took a mean cut, my right foot slipped and I hit a pull hook in the parking lot. I hit the next one in a green side bunker, didn’t get up and down for bogey, made double and missed by one.
I will post the great comebacks later as I feel the need for you all to sit there and laugh at what an idiot I was…because I feel that way right now.