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PGA Assistants Championship Qualifier

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Yesterday was our section's PGA Assistants Championship Qualifier at Fairwood G&CC (full results found at https://2016secassistant.golfgenius.com/pages/593656).  This tournament is a 36 hole qualifier, shotgun format.  First round was at 7:45 and next at 12:45.  3 spots were available to move on to Florida for the championship rounds in October.  Weird thing, I thought, was that you could ride for this event.  I assumed we had to walk so I took my push cart I recently got from TST and walked 36 holes... my legs are aching a bit this morning.  The morning was crappy weather.  It was that misty rain that sticks everywhere mixed in with actual drizzle/rain mix.  That went on for 3 hours after the morning tee off.  But then it cleared up and was sunny-ish for the 2nd round.  A quick summary of how the course plays, it's relatively short but fairways are generally a bit skinnier than normal and the greens have a lot of break or have big ridges in the middle.

I started on hole 10 for both rounds.  The first round was tough, because of weather and having only played the course once before, this last winter.  So it was a mix of sticking to the game plan and then using which ever club off the tee that would put my in the fairway with a good shot at hitting the green.  Generally off the tee, I did ok, spare a few holes I hit OB or into a water hazard.  But, where I lost a lot of strokes to the field was chipping.  I was hitting the lines I wanted, but with the greens rolling about 13, I wasn't stopping the ball where I wanted.  It was rolling out just a little too much.  So instead of 5 footers, I was having to try and make 10-15 footers to save par. To the question of why I was having to chip so much, well I was leaving my approach shots short.  I think the air, being dense with moisture and just taking easy swings made me have to club up and I just wasn't doing it enough.  I used my driver twice in the first round.  The second one was on my last hole, which is #9 a par 5.  My swing thought for the day, which is very important to my driver, is feeling like I'm following through towards my target.  So I stepped up and scorched it.  It was one of those hits that you hit it and immediately pick up your tee because you know exactly where it will end up.  My 2nd shot was with my 3 wood where I hit a nice draw burner that rolled up to 50yds out.  Made my pitch to about 2ft which I made for birdie, which was the only birdie in our group during that morning round.  So, I finished with a 81 that round.  Not what I was looking for but I knew going into the 2nd round how I would play the course to create better scoring.

After that birdie, I was in good spirits after a quick lunch.  Starting on number 10 again, which is a 560yd par 5, I knew both times that even a 300yd drive would leave a tricky 3 wood approach to hit the green in 2, so it just wasn't worth it to go with driver.  I hit 3 wood down the right side, hit my 2 iron then to about 125yd out, and my approach shot was pretty.  Our group couldn't believe that the ball didn't go in the hole.  I love playing those sweeping draws with my PW and 9iron.  So, with my PW in hand, I played a high sweeping draw that landed a foot right of the hole skipped forward, then spun backwards toward the hole and stopped 6in past the cup.  It must've lipped out or just nearly, but either way, starting with a tap in birdie is always fun.  My 2nd round was very up and down, but with more ups than downs.  After round 1, I decided that using 3 wood off the tee was working better than 2 irons, mostly because of hitting the fairway a bit more but also it put me past some trouble areas that I hit in round 1 with 2 iron.  So with my 3 wood, I was hitting a lot of fairways or just off the fairway in that 2nd round, save for one hole that I pushed right into a water hazard.  But the real highlights were my approach shots.  After that first round, I knew that I could afford to take more club, because 1, I was short in round 1 almost consistently, and 2, these greens caught my back spin so well that I had to put the ball past the pin and let it come back.  Needless to say, after that comment, I was hunting pins.  For the first 5 or 6 holes, the real issue was putting.  For some reason, I was being too tentative and leaving them short or on low side.  I missed 3 easy birdie putts (within 10ft) in those first 6 holes.  Finally, on my 7th hole, a par 3, I hit my putt well, and the birdie putt went in from about 20ft.  I parred 8, birdied 9, birdied 10, birdied 11.  So, I'm really on a roll and feeling good, and of course i got cocky and lost concentration on a par 3, and pushed in right OB.  Got a double on that hole.  No fun.  From then on, it was more missed birdie putts and not hitting my approach shots as close.  Went into my 18th hole again with my driver, only this time i hooked it looking to go OB, but it had a nice kick off the tree to be just left of the FW.  Hit 2 iron down right side of FW to leave 65yds in.  I put it 6ft right of the hole, and I was too tentative again and left my birdie putt short and on low side.  

So, I finished with a 71 (even par) in the last round to finish with a 152 overall.  That put me in the money, so I'll take it!  A little disappointed in my short game performance and some wedge shots that I'm typically very confident with.  I knew I'd make some mistakes in there, but I hate the ones where I lose concentration.  That shouldn't happen.  I play in another big event next week, which is a 3 day no cut event with a gross & net payout.  This event is one of our section majors for the year so the payout is typically nice.  I hope I can bring my 71 game out there.  But, I've never played the course and I've never played golf in the desert before.  So, it will be a new experience for me.  Just have to find what's working early on and play it.

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Congratulations on the great comeback!  Like you said, bring the 71 game for the next event, and you'll do well.

 We're proud of the performance of our first assistant at the recent qualifier for the Middle Atlantic PGA Assistants event a week ago.  Paul rebounded from 79 the first day to shoot 64 on the second day and finish T7.  There were 5 qualifiers out of this section, and Paul is second alternate.  I hope your members gave you a better welcome than we did Paul.  He got much more grief for the 79 than he did congratulations for the 64.

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