I QUALIFIED FOR THE NC AMATEUR!
I'm super pumped about this. I didn't know what to expect given this was my first competitive tournament in 10 years, but I managed to play well enough to qualify for the NC Amateur Tournament next month!
I had played 18 holes a couple days before in the sloppy wet mess to try and get a feel for how the conditions would be when I played in the qualifier. It wasn't pretty.
I shot 41 on the front 9 and couldn't get anything going. I ended up shooting 36 on the back, buoyed by a few birdies to finish with a 77. With my best estimates, I figured 77 wouldn't qualify and I was discouraged.
My Qualifying Round
When I got to the qualifier, I was very nervous. I had not done this in 10 years, and it certainly showed on the range. I hit balls everywhere: fat, thin, right, left. It was just ugly. I never really got it together on the range, so I decided to end my misery and move to the putting and chipping area.
I was chipping the ball well and putting extremely well (recall from daily update #6 where I adjusted my putting routine) so at least I had that to fall back on.
I was the 2nd off the tee when it came time for our group. The first kid hit it right down the middle. I was next, and I literally thought I was going to be sick. I took out my trusty 3-wood, took a deep breath to calm my nerves, and then stood over the ball. I took a good smooth swing and what do you know, I hit it right down the middle and long. I was so excited.
I would finish that hole with a par, just barely missing a birdie from off the fringe. I continued with 6 straight pars and then bogeyed on #16 (we started on #10). I hit my second shot from the rough into a front left bunker and simply made a poor bunker shot to about 20ft and missed the putt.
I fired back on the next hole, though, and hit an 8-iron to about 6ft and made the putt for birdie to put me back at even par. I parred the next 3 holes, and then came to a simple 170yd par 3. I pulled out my 7-iron and straight up chunked it. It went about 100 yards in front of me. It was not pretty. I hit a good 60 degree wedge to about 15ft but missed the putt, so I bogeyed that hole.
The next hole I pushed my drive right and had to punch out back into the fairway. My approach came up short, so I chipped up to about 3ft and made the putt for another bogey. At this point, I was +2 through 13 holes. The next hole I drilled a 3-wood down the middle of the fairway and put a wedge to about 12ft, but I missed that putt as well.
The next hole was a par 5 and I absolutely smashed my drive down the middle with a slight draw (it was my only good drive all day). In the soppy wet mess on a 543 yard par 5, I had 220 to the green, so I was pleased. I took my hybrid and hit it very well, but it was just right of the green. I pitched to about 3ft and made the putt for birdie, putting me back to +1.
I parred the next 2 holes, and then on the last hole hit an awful high right fade of a drive into the woods. I did have a shot, and from 221 out, I managed to put a 4-iron on the front of the green. The flag was in the bag and tucked right behind a giant ridge. The putt had to have been 90+ft. I made a decent effort and had 8ft left, but I dead pulled that putt to finish with a bogey on the hole.
So for the day, I shot 73, +2. Given the sloppy conditions, I figured that was a decent score. The course was not easy, and it was also quite windy. After all was said and done, 73 was the cut line and I finished T-28 (T-30 and ties made it).
I was not expecting to qualify at all – I was just excited to actually get into competitive play again to see how it felt. I loved the pressure and it forced me to play better and smarter throughout the round. I clubbed up on every hole and gave things a smooth swing, and that helped tremendously with hitting greens.
For the day, I hit 7 out of 14 fairways (eh), but I hit 13 out of 18 greens which I thought was good for the day. I had 4 bogeys and 2 birdies.
My biggest win was putting inside of 10ft. I made 17 out of 18 putts inside of 10ft, the only one missed being the 8 footer on the last hole. That is 100% the reason why I scored as well as I did. I'm glad I took all that time to practice putting, especially from short distances. It did not disappoint.
With that being said, I did not make a single putt from the 10-20ft range which was disappointing. I expect to make 1 or 2 of them a round, and given that I had 4 birdie putts inside of that range, I would've liked to made at least 1. I definitely need to practice those putts more as I feel I can shave another stroke off my round by making at least 1 of those per round.
My other strokes lost were due to poor tee shots. It has been a real struggle of mine to consistently find the fairway, and poor tee shots led to most of my bogeys. Apart from that, I had a poor sand shot, but the sand was super wet and hard to judge, so I'm not too hard on myself for this.
My Takeaways for Improvement
My biggest takeaways for improvement are these:
- I need to improve my putting from 10-20ft. I missed every putt I had from this distance in the qualifying round. If I want to compete to win, I need to make at least 20% of those during a round.
- I need to improve my accuracy off the tee. My goal every round is to try and hit 10/14 fairways. Given I only hit 7, I lost a few strokes there.
- I need to improve on my sand shots. Even though I didn't get up and down and didn't make a terrible go at it, I was very nervous over the shot, which tells me I need to practice this a lot to gain more confidence.
I hit my irons well and was generally in the area that I wanted, despite all of the wind. I could definitely improve on accuracy, but distance control was phenomenal given the conditions.
But the most important takeaway from the entire thing was my reliance on Jesus. It is Jesus who gives me the skills to play and the ability to play well, and all the glory should be to Him and Him alone. He was kind and merciful to me to allow me to play as well as I did, and I am incredibly thankful and grateful.
The NC Amateur is in the middle of June, so I've got about 3 weeks to prepare. Here's to lots of deliberate practice to improve specific areas of my game so I can really compete in the upcoming tournament!