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Chris Gay: Golf is hard, I almost made a hole-in-one

Posted: April 12, 2017 - 7:47pm

I think I missed it. Maybe you saw it.

If so, send me the link.

What did Bubba Watson write about the final round of the Masters Tournament? Did he paint the picture about Sergio Garcia winning his first major championship? Did he give the gripping details of the final six holes, how Garcia tried to lose the tournament with that awful tee shot at the par-5 13th only to recover with an oh-so-important par.

I'm fascinated to know what Bubba wrote. After all, writing is easy. That's what he said. It must be true.

Golf is hard. Bubba said that, too. I thought about that Monday as my 6-iron tee shot to the uphill, 163-yard ninth hole at Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken soared through the air. As the ball hit just right of the pin and then danced to the left, my friend, Kevin Faigle, yelled for the ball to go into the hole. I didn't think it was that close. Imagine my surprise when I got to the green and the ball rested about a foot away from the cup. Birdie.

On the previous hole, the tricky, par-4 eighth, I hit a 4-iron off the tee. The problem with that hole: OB left and trees right. If you pipe a good drive down the middle, the fairway slopes toward that devilish fairway bunker on the left. My friend, David Lee, got to experience the thrill of trying to escape that litter box. Meanwhile, I tried to figure out what to hit to the green from the right side of the fairway. My friend, Mike Wynn, told me: 5-iron. That's the club I was going to hit anyway. I struck it pure, the 185-yard shot landed about 15 feet past the hole. I missed the birdie putt, but not by much. Par.

When we walked over to the 9 tee, Mike tried to club me again: 5-iron, he said. Despite his best intentions, I knew better. Sometimes when you listen to the wrong advice, golf can be hard.

At the par-5 10th, I hit my second shot just over the green. I left my eagle chip short, the ball rolling back to my feet. I sulked for a brief moment. Golf is hard. Then, I address the ball again with confidence, chipping the ball halfway onto the green, the ball rolling true into the hole. Birdie.

On a three-hole stretch - one of the best I've ever had - I went par-birdie-birdie. Now if I played a lot, it'd be one thing. Instead, this was my first round since last summer. Because I work, coach my children in two sports and just don't have the time, I play about 10-12 rounds a year, if that much. So when I shot 91 Monday at Palmetto after an exhausting week covering the Masters, I thought that was pretty solid for this mid-90s golfer.

That score might not impress Bubba - and trust me, there were plenty of ugly shots on the other 15 holes - it did impress me. Golf is hard. But sometimes, even for the briefest of moments, it's pretty darn enjoyable, too.

 

WHILE THERE ARE some Masters champions better than other, Sergio will go down as one of the greats. While he's had some of his "Bubba moments" earlier in his career, Sergio also comes across as a good-natured, fun-loving guy. One of the writers from Jacksonville talked about how Sergio will play pickup soccer with teenagers during the week of The Players Championship.

In th early 200s, I used to go down to the ninth hole during the Par-3 Contest. One year, I watched Tiger Woods make a hole-in-one there and all the patrons went bonkers. Two groups later, Jay Haas made an ace and the whole place went nuts again.

On several occasions, I watched Sergio on the ninth hole. He never putted out. Instead, he got a girl (I want to say she was from North Augusta or Aiken) to putt for her. I think she did this several years in a row. She's probably in her 20s now. I can't remember her name. I do remember how he must have made her feel, drawing her inside the ropes to hit a putt in front of thousands of people. Talk about an experience of a lifetime. I know that girl, that young woman, wherever she is these days, had to be pulling hard for Sergio. A lot of folks joined in with her. While I was pulling for Justin Rose, I'm glad Sergio won. He will appreciate this victory for the rest of his life. He will, without a doubt, be a fantastic champion.

 

I SPENT MUCH of Masters Week in the new press building. What can you say? The folks at Augusta National Golf Club did a magnificent job. The multimillion-dollar palace got built in record time - thank goodness the government wasn't involved. If so, the first brick would still be waiting to get placed.

The press building features a restaurant - the Bartlett Lounge - where folks working in the press building could order breakfast or lunch. It really was outstanding. I know, because scales don't lie.

The press building also featured several interesting amenities. There's a covered porch on the second floor, a great spot that many enjoyed. There's even locker rooms in the building.

Writers from The Augusta Chronicle sat in the middle of the main arena. The leather seats were every bit as comfortable as you could imagine. There was a locker to store belongings. There were two computers at each desk for watching golf or tracking the scores.

The only minor drawbacks? Too much glare from all the glass. It was hard to see the laptop in the late morning to mid-afternoon hours. And the air-conditioning ran all the time, even when it was cold outside. Other than that, it was a great experience.

 

ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT, my wife and I ate supper in Evans. With thunderstorms still in the area, we drove down Petersburg Road (what's becoming Riverwatch Parkway). Despite all these curbs and drains on the side of the road, there was still standing water. All that unnecessary money wasted to build unnecessary curbs and there's still a fear of hydroplaning. Wonderful. Maybe road construction is as hard as golf.

Next year, I'll go ask Bubba.

 

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