Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I got back from Newark on Saturday and it's been 3 straight days of highs in the mid to high 30's, which isn't quite golf weather. I've spent the last few days working out hard and hitting some balls at the dome. Not quite what I was expecting in the last week of March. Typically it's starting to get alright by now, but another week of this and I'll have to head south for some better weather in order to properly prepare for my upcoming Nationwide qualifiers. The first of which is on April 25th and is for the Kinderlou Forest tournament. I'd really like to play in that event, especially since the 7700 yard course sets up perfectly for me. You may recall KF being the site of my successful first run at 1st Stage in 2009. I fired a bogey free 67 in the final round on a blustery day and secured a spot to 2nd Stage. I love that place and hopefully I'll be able to earn a spot there at the end of April. Off for the Neville Island Dome right now to go pound some balls.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
After spending two days in my Toyota Camry, I figured why not spend a couple more? I was able to procure 4 tickets to Marquette's Sweet 16 game against UNC and was going to meet a few friends in Newark for the game. My buddy Adam Reed drove from Milwaukee and stayed at my house in Pittsburgh. We took off for Newark the next morning and after a 6 hour drive, got into Newark around 2:30. Never have I seen a more ridiculously complex and chaotic freeway system than there. Our hotel could only be accessed from the freeway, and only from the Southbound side, and exiting and turning around was no bargain either. Luckily we made some good guesses and got to the hotel without too much incident. Former roommate Brendan Lowd and friend Kate met up with us an hour later. We then took off for a pre-game Marquette event at the Brick City Bar and Grille next to the Prudential Center. There we joined a couple hundred fellow fans and alums in getting psyched up for the game. I ran into Tim Vetscher, who I watched all the Big East Tournament games with out in Phoenix, at the party and talked with him a little bit. Everyone was definitely optimistically hopeful about the day's game, and why wouldn't we be after how hard and masterfully the team played in the first two rounds?
We got to the arena and to our seats right before the tip. Kate and I received numerous comments on our jerseys (I had brought a pair of jerseys from 1984 that my mom had gotten from some team managers when they were getting rid of them. Herbert Harrison-43 and Donald Smolinski-4), along with some "Go Warriors!" comments. We won the opening tip and played tough for the first 5 minutes, even snagging an early 10-8 lead. The Marquette faithful were loud and proud. Yet, UNC's athleticism was apparent and their stifling man to man D was tough to break. It was difficult for our guys to even make numerous successful passes without difficulty. But they never gave up and played hard the whole game, even cutting the deficit in the 2nd half and giving us all something to cheer about, but UNC was just too much.
We then stayed for the second game as well, Ohio St vs Kentucky, and what a game that was. Definitely worth the ticket price just for that game alone. It was an exciting atmosphere though, and definitely worth the trip even though we lost. Adam and I would drive back to Pittsburgh the next morning, making it 4 straight days of 6+ driving hours for me.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Played well on Monday, but not great. Shot a two-under par 70 in blustery conditions and missed by three. I got off to a good start and was -3 thru 6, which included a pair of twenty foot birdie putts. I really rolled it well all day long, and hit it really well on the front nine as well. Unfortunately, as is the case with Monday qualifiers, you can't afford to let a couple shot slip because you need to get everything you can out of your round. 11 and 12 is where I ultimately lost in the qualifying. I was pin-high 60 feet on 11, about two yards off the green chipping. I hit a crummy chip to 10 feet and lipped out the putt. Wasted shot. On the next hole I blew my 25 footer by and missed the 6 foot comebacker. Wasted shot. I bogeyed 18 to finish the round as I was going for the pin trying to make birdie/hole out, a shot I wouldn't have tried if I was already at -5. That's three shots. That's 67. That puts me in a playoff. Dang.
It was a definite step in the right direction however, as I walk out of here knowing my game is headed in the right direction. Unlike last year when we left here thinking, "What the hell happened there, and where did some of those shots come from?" I'm stopping at the Taylormade van at the tournament today to meet up with Eddie Erkmanis, and if he's got time, get fit for an R11 driver.
I'll be headed home to Pittsburgh Wednesday morning, and possibly off to Newark to watch Marquette take down those Tar Heels, just like in '77
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Just reached Lafayette, LA last night after two long days in the car driving through Texas. Fortunately my mother flew out to Arizona to help with the drive. We stopped in El Paso for lunch the first day with Mike McQueen, my host from my two trips to the Western Refining All-American Tournament. We didn't go to El Paso CC this year, but we did last year when we drove through so that we could see my plaque on the wall with all the other champions.
Anyhow, I've had a good couple weeks of practice and I'm hitting the ball solidly. My parents flew out two weeks ago to get out of the Pittsburgh weather. I spent alot of time golfing with my dad, and we even took a day off to go to Sedona to admire the amazing rock formations. Shot a few ho-hum 60's rounds and now I'm looking forward to my first Nationwide Monday qualifier of the year on March 21st here in Louisiana.
The way I'm playing right now I feel it will all come down to putting. If the putter gets rolling and I make some putts, I'll feel pretty confident about my chances. You never know with an 18 hole tournament, really anything can happen, but I like where my game is headed. Last year I got the bad end of the tee times out here. It was mid-40s for my front nine and blowing 25mph. On 17, the clouds dispersed, the sun came out, and the wind died down. So you never know, but I'm going to play as best I can and tally it up when I'm done. Off to play a practice round at The Wetlands GC, where I played last year as well.
Nice win by Marquette last night!