It’s not that the putting was bad. It was just more of the same old story, the fear and occasional presence of the yips.
Why I brought my regular putter to the Senior Club Championship this weekend, I’ll never know. But there I was, coming down the stretch in the second and final round, battling to make up ground on the leader while I’m battling my own nerves.
But I caught him on 17 when I somehow rolled in a 7-foot sidewinder for a birdie. In fact, it was a three-way tie for the lead as our final foursome teed off on 18. By the time we reached the green, it was down to just two of us. I was away with a 35 footer uphill left-to-right putt. And then the unthinkable, which I actually did think about, happened. I yipped my approach putt. Jacked it four feet past the hole to the right. The other guy lagged up to tap-in range, leaving me to make this downhill right-to-left putt to tie and send it to sudden death.
With a crowd surrounding the back of the green, I made it. I have no idea how. So on we went to sudden death. I lipped-out an 8-foot birdie putt on the first hole – tie. I faced a lightning-fast downhill 15-footer on the next hole. Thank God I didn’t stab at that one or it would have been off the green. As it was, I left myself a couple of feet back up the hill, which was more than enough pressure.
I got to the next tee, the 1st hole again, a par 5 dogleg right, with one thought in mind – get it on the green in two so I can 2-putt for a birdie. Probably hit the best drive of my life over the corner. The ball flew over the trees and the bunkers ending up a mere 182 yards from the pin. Still jacked, I launched an 8-iron pin high on the right fringe. Having seen my drive, my opponent felt compelled to make something happen with his second shot and did, sort of; he hit a tree. Still, he managed to hit his third shot just through the green. After a mediocre chip, he left me feeling better about my putting nerves and I comfortably lagged it up there to within a couple of feet. He missed his putt for a bogey. Game, set, match.
And with the Senior Club Championship in hand, I will now retire my trusty short putter to my personal hall of sh/fame. Yes, it’s back to the long putter once again. I love competing in golf tournaments, but when I’m worrying so much about my putting that I can hardly think straight, all the joy of competition fades away.
The morale of this story? Anyone can win any tournament with a little luck and some mind over matter. If you want to give the U.S. Putting Tour’s national putting championship a try this September, grab your favorite putter and go for it. Enjoy the competition and enjoy the experience of being in the inaugural USPT Championship.
You can enter today at www.usputtingtour.com.