Monday, July 5, 2010

Final round of the JFOCC

Sunday morning rolled up. I woke up bleary eyed and delirious. Meaning I slept AMAZINGLY. After getting ready, doing my LPGA Fitness Trailer taping thing, I started my warm-up routine. It had been some 10 months since I last was in the final pairing of any tournament, and BOY did I miss that feeling!!!

After I striped my 4-iron off the tee, dead into the teeth of the wind, I was left with an awkward tweener shot. I hit my approach shot through the green, and NYC hit her approach shot 2 inches past mine and our balls were nearly touching. After marking my ball, she chipped her ball to five feet, leaving the area our balls were sitting in a mangled mess. I flubbed my chip, and ended up making bogey. After two pars, I was getting frustrated and felt that I was putting right where I wanted to, how I wanted to, but somehow the putts weren't dropping. Finally, on the fourth hole, after hitting a wedge from 127 yards to about 13 feet left of the hole, I made a huge, curling putt, with impeccable speed. Though that was a confidence booster, a misjudged shot on the fifth hole led to a three-putt bogey.
The eighth hole was another hiccup. After a horrible teeshot so far left that I had to punch out left and play seventeenth hole, I lipped out a six foot putt about 96 degrees for another three-putt bogey. MORE FRUSTRATIONS!!!! ROAR!!!! I took that frustration and stuck my teeshot on the eighth hole to about eight feet, and after rolling in the putt, I told myself that I could birdie the next hole, get back to even on the day, and be right back into it. After all, the back nine is where I shine. Alas, I missed an 11 foot putt for birdie, and turned in +1 34.
Another sniped teeshot on the tenth hole resulted me ending up in another evergreen tree, and this time, I had no choice but to take an unplayable. I had to pull my ball back about forty yards, and I was left with a 186 yard shot back into the green. I had to play a 40 yard hook, and unfortunately only hooked it about 20 yards, and hitting it only 150 yards forward. That left me with a 38 yard bunker shot, where I managed to blast about ten feet from the hole. That was my fourth shot. I just lipped out my bogey putt, and then before I knew it, I was four down. The tournament was trying to slip from my hand, but I wasn't having it. B and I knew I owned the back nine, and so we went with no fear.
On the 11th hole, I hit a 9-iron from 127 yards, back into the breeze, to about 28 feet left. Yes, I pulled the crap out of the shot, but the hole locations were tight, with no more than five to twelve feet to work with on most edges of the greens. I had a downhill, curling putt for birdie, and I found the spot I wanted to roll it over, and that was all I was focused on. The putt rolled over my spot, and there we go, the putt dropped. One down, four more to go, I said to myself.
Twelfth hole. After hitting a stellar teeshot, I had 108 yards to the hole. My 52 degree wedge sailed about fifteen feet long and left of the hole, and once again, I had the perfect spot to roll my putt over. This time, as I saw the putt hit that tiny blade of grass I was focusing on, I said in my head YES. I looked up, and six feet from the cup, I yelled at my ball "GIVE IT TO ME!" When the putt dropped, I gave a fist pump and stalked off to the next hole. Two down.
On the thirteenth hole, which normally plays some 340 yards, the rules officials pushed the teebox up some 46 yards, and after having hit my teeshot on the last hole 290 yards, it was ALMOST the perfect number to have on a tee. However, there was some 35 yards of rough to contend with, and after conversing with B, we decided that I couldn't muscle a driver through that kind of rough. I pulled out my 4-iron, hit a teeshot down the right side of the fairway, and then had 83 yards left to the hole. I pulled out my lob wedge, and hit it to about six feet right of the hole. Draino. Three down. B looked at me, after giving me a fisty/forearm bump, and said "You can't stop progress." For those of you who have listened to Clutch's self-titled album, you know what we mean.
After getting up and down for par on the fourteenth hole, I stood on the tee of the fifteenth, and ripped a drive. Utterly ripped it. Its a 390 yard par 4, and I had a measly 78 yards left. However, there was a tree right in my way. I thought I had no problem to hit over it, but my lie was a bit squidgy, leaving me with the ball below my feet. Of course, back to my studies. TREES ARE 12% AIR.... I clipped a leaf, and it ended up some 34 yards short of the hole. I hit a flop shot, but was left with a crazy 12 footer for par. I was not going to be denied.
After Na Yeon Choi missed her birdie putt from almost the same line, I knew this putt would determine if I had a chance to win or not. I was short and right of the cup, with the green sloping right. However, right where the cup was, I could see from standing below the hole, that it actually moved right to left. I stared down my spot, until I bore a hole into the ground. This putt, like so many others, I denied myself the pleasure of seeing it go in. I just listened for it. When I heard the beautiful sound of the ball falling in, I looked up, fist pumped, and off I was to make birdies on the last two holes.
The seventeenth hole was played perfectly, just as I wanted to. I hit a stellar teeshot, and laid up with a 5-iron to give myself a full swing shot into the green. The hole was 19 paces on, and 3 from the left. There was a longer carry on the left side of the green, and only 6 yards to work with on the left side. I hit my second shot 80 yards from the hole, and came out of it a little bit. It flew nowhere, but ran up a few feet as opposed to spinning back. I was left with a 20 foot putt, up the hill, over a ridge, and pretty much as soon as I hit it, I knew it was in. I yelled "GOT IT!" (as you can see in this picture here. I think I am in the IIIIIIIT part of GOT IT in this shot). I was tied for the lead.
After hitting two stellar shots on the closing hole, I left my third shot short of the cup, yet again. I had a twelve foot putt, and hit it right on line, just a bit too hard. Maybe I was too eager. I made a three and a half footer like it was nothing, to stay in the playoff.
On the first playoff hole the 18th, I was the third to tee off. In Kyung Kim teed off with a 5-wood, Na Yeon hit her 3-wood. I hit my 3-wood, and Song Hee hit her spoon as well. We all hit it to within 15 feet of the hole, and yet none of us made our putts. Talk about a squidgy hole location!!!
The second playoff hole was the 17th hole. We all piped our drives down the center, and everyone went a different way with how to play their second shots. A slew of clubs, from my 6-iron to hybrids to 3-woods were hit. I hit my third shot short again, this time in almost the same spot I hit it to in the tournament. IK hit it twelve feet past, Song Hee hit through the green, and NYC hit a stellar shot to five feet. She had been struggling all day to make something happen, but she hung on strong, and made a fantastic birdie on the 72nd hole to get into the playoff. She was a great fighter, and hit an awesome shot on the 74th hole. We all squirreled around the hole, and finally, Na Yeon rolled her downhill, right to left slider into the center of the cup. She had led wire-to-wire, after missing her first ever cut the week prior at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans, which means she was 62 for 62 tournaments! Talk about amazing! She was a fierce competitor, and I am very proud of the way she fought for that title. She went up during the closing ceremony, thanked her caddy, Paul, who was an amazing support for her, the volunteers, the staff, the sponsors, everyone! All this without any paperwork, no stumbling, and I must say I was personally very proud of her. Take THAT, haters!!! Congratulations again to an awesome champion, a fierce competitor, and an overall awesome girl!!!

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