As I stood on the putting green late Thursday evening, I couldn't help but watch as a nearby scoreboard scrolled through the first round scores. Next to my name, there was a nice, big, ugly 77. I continued to work well into the night on the area of my game that has plagued my season thus far. My putting hasn't been terrible by all means but it certainly hasn't reached the level of consistency that I need to compete with the big boys week in and week out. I returned to our condo on the 10th hole at Harbor Town and spent the rest of the evening with Beth and Jake. We had a great dinner and I tried to forget about the dreadful day of golf. However, when I turned on my laptop and looked at the PGA Tour website, insult was added to injury. Not only did my stellar 77 put me in a tie for last place after Thursday's round, but I was the last name listed on the entire leader board! This was definitely a first in my entire career and something I hope never happens again. The most frustrating part about my glorious 77 was that I really didn't play that bad. I made several bad bogeys that should have been routine pars. I only missed two fairways on a very tough driving course but it was the little mistakes that hurt me throughout the day. I woke up Friday morning with nothing to lose. I knew that if I cleaned up the round and avoided the careless mistakes, I would be fine. I told Beth that if I could shoot at least two under par on my opening nine holes, then I would have a chance to make the cut. Obviously, when you start the day in last place, making the cut is a tall feat. However, I knew I could do it and I set out determined to achieve my new goal. I started the round on the 10th hole and navigated through the tough back nine in two under par. As I rode the shuttle toward the first tee, I thought about the conversation I had with Beth the night before. I was in good shape after nine holes but certainly needed to catch fire in order to achieve my goal. I figured the cut would be somewhere around one under par by the end of the day and through 27 holes, I was four over par. That meant I needed to play the front nine in a minimum of five under par to have a chance. After a tap in for par on the first hole, I moved to Harbor Town's second hole, a heavily tree lined par 5. Making birdies on the par 5's were going to be a big key in my quest to make the cut. After a decent pitch shot from well short of the green, I left myself with a 15 foot putt just off the green. When my putt found the bottom of the cup, I moved one step closer to my goal. The third hole is designed with a tight fairway and a very small green surrounded by bunkers. My tee shot found the fairway but due to the wind in my face, my second shot was farther back than anticipated. I was in between clubs and decided to hit my six iron rather than the seven. This decision proved to be correct as my shot from the fairway went in the hole for an eagle. I was now 5 under for the day and 1 over for the tournament. I made par on the next hole, a tough par 3, and then moved to my last par 5 of the day. The cut was still around 1 over par and I needed two more birdies in the last five holes to reach that number. After my tee shot landed in the fairway, I hit a 3 wood to the front fringe of the green and only 15 feet from the hole. My eagle attempt violently lipped out, thus leaving me a short tap in for birdie. I made par on the sixth hole and moved to the par 3 seventh, still needing another birdie. My six iron from 201 yards ended up only 12 feet from the hole and I made the putt! I was now 7 under for the day and 1 under for the tournament. I couldn't let up and continued to press on, making a solid par on the difficult 8th hole. Enormous pine trees and overhanging limbs make the short but tricky 9th hole very difficult. The green is extremely small and bogeys or worse are inevitable in you are not accurate with your tee shot or approach to the green. Eventhough I found the middle of the fairway, I was blocked out from the pin by three giant pine trees. My only option was to launch the ball high in the air and hopefully avoid the top of the trees. I was certainly taking a chance with this route. However, if I chose to play to the right of the trees, I would miss the green to the right and face a difficult save for par. My ball rose above the trees, cleared the front bunker, and rolled to a stop only 14 feet from the cup. I definitely let out a huge sigh of relief as I approached the green. I lined up the putt and really wanted to make it as a cushion in case the cut moved. I heard a huge roar and lots of cheers as my ball found its way in the hole. I finished the round at 8 under par (63) and 2 under for the tournament.
The cut ended up at Even par and I made it by two shots. I tied a PGA Tour record on Friday for having the lowest amount of putts in one round (18). Obviously this number was aided by a chip in and a hole out from the fairway. However, things certainly evened out because I had several putts and chips that lipped out during the round. I was also informed that I broke a PGA Tour record during my second round at Harbor Town. I set the record for the lowest round in a PGA Tour event after being in last place following the first round. This record is a bit embarrassing because I had to be in LAST place after the first round in order to break it. However, it is a record and as a rookie, I am glad to be in the books!
Eventhough the weekend didn't end as I wanted, I had a great time inside the ropes at the Verizon Heritage. I had a ton of friends and family attend throughout the week and I apprecitate all the support. Beth, Jake, and I are very grateful for the hospitality that Mr. Don Schroeder and Michelle showed us during the week. Hilton Head is a very special event and eventhough the course doesn't suit my game perfectly, it was a great experience. I look forward to many more trips to the island.
Sorry this blog was boring but when you tie for 64th, it is hard write something exciting!!