I played my Volvo Individual competition this weekend. From the outset, it was going to be David v Goliath. I played against John Donaldson (HC 16), a career army man, who plays for the army and has been a finalist to Dubai on a similar golf competition. I had always wanted to play at Worplesdon GC. So was thrilled to see that WGC was John’s home course. Going in, I had very low expectations, and it was a case of how big a margin of defeat I would encounter. I had signed up for the experience and to learn new things.
Got to Worplesdon on time. With heavy rains forecasted, the club was empty. We had the course to ourselves – it felt like millionaire’s golf – something I can easily get used to. Match summary below:
#1 (P4): The opening hole is very inviting. We tee-ed off a high box. JD going left, and me right. Second shot just short of green, while JD got into the bunker. A few putts later, won my first hole. I could have retired while I was ahead.
#2(P4): When we go to the tee box, I noticed that I was still very nervous. It is a blind shot over a little mound. As luck would have it, my tee clipped the tree on the left hand side and died. Lost a couple of shots getting out, and essentially blew the hole. JD drove well, but his second ended into the rough on the right. But it was his hole after my bad start
#3(P4): Decent drives from both, but while JD’s second ended in the rough on the right hand side, mine ended in the green side bunker. The bunker was perhaps the steepest one I have ever encountered. However, got out safely, and both par-ed.
#4(P3): It is a feature hole up a steep slope towards the clubhouse. I would love to go back for this hole. Both of us drove horribly, and ended in the rough on the right hand side. Many pitches/chips later, JD won the hole. It is a very punishing hole, and people would be happy to par.
#5(P4): Still huffing after the depressing #3, this is a dogleg right. Long distance bombing JD drove straight and ran past the fairway. I sliced into the heather. Many hacks later, resurfaced for some fresh air. By now JD was running away with the match.
#6(P5): A Long downhill left turning hole. Good drives from both. JD went right and I went left. JD’s second was a stunner, and we saw it clip a tree. We searched for a while, but could not locate it. So JD went back and hit another one to about 3 feet of the green!! In the meanwhile, my second ended in the greenside bunker on the left from where I got out ok. Then I played the chip of my life. The ball went around the lip of the hole and stopped. Both of shot +1. Finally got some runs back on the board.
#7(P3): A P3 with a difficult two-tier green well protected by bunkers. I hit the green in regulation, while JD went further right. He found bunker and arrived on the green in 3. My first putt was a difficult one to read as the two tier meant it could break either way. Fortunately, read right, and got a par. More runs, the door was opening.
#8(P4): Short downhill P4, where I topped my drive, which luckily stayed out of a bunker. JD got a vicious hook and spent a lot of time in the woods. He fought the trees, but this hole was for me to win. The green is the challenge, being severely two-tiered, played very safely and got a bogie. The scores were now level!!!!
#9(P5): My joy of levelling the score was very short lived. My drive (if you can call it that) saw me depositing the ball OOB on the left hand side. JD played percentage and got his par. At the end of front 9, the scores JD:1 – VK: 0 (now who would have guessed that)
#10(P3): A beautiful P3 surrounded by flowering bushes on the left and a lake in front (see pic). JD was now in his swing. He hit to about 3 feet of the hole!. I could have not bothered doing anything. To make matters worse, took an extra club and ended in the greenside bunker.
#11(P5): We crossed the road to the other side. It is a very inviting P5 that lets you open your shoulders. Both did just that and got decent drives. JD drives about 20-30y longer than me and set him well. Mine was a slight downhill. My second shot had a big slice and hit a tree and paid a visit to the heather underneath. I stayed in the heather for a while, while JD consolidated his lead with par.
#12(P5): Another par 5 and another driving line that was guaranteed to give me trouble. Going for broke, I took out the new 3-hybrid for my second shot. But magic had deserted me, and my club seemed longer that the distance the ball travelled. JD was beavering away on the other side of the fairway, and despite going into another bunker, he managed his par. With a lead of 4 holes, his lead looked insurmountable.
#13(P3): A very wild drive from JD got him to the tee box of the #14. In the meanwhile, I underclubbed but got onto the green. Two putts later, I got a long awaited par and some well deserved points.
#14(P4): I was now using the Golflogix app on my blackberry and enjoying the ease of getting distances. We drove ok, and laid up short. Up and down got me a bogie and another point. A fight back was on the cards.
#15(P5): We went back across the road. I drove this one beautifully, while JD ended in the trees on the left. We spent a long time searching for his ball. It was in a ditch and he had to take a drop. I was now in cautious mode and was playing to win the hole. A decent second shot followed by up and down got me a bogie and a point. Yipee!!
#16(P3): A uphill beauty that should be hit in regulation, which both of us did. Both par-ed and split the points. With the lead down to one, and two holes to play, this was turning into an interesting match.
#17(P4): With the match starting to turn, all I needed to do was to keep my drive in play. And that was exactly what I mucked up. Topped my drive, and cringed as I saw it fly into the bushes. In a cruel twist, the ball had nestled itself in some bushes on an upslope. Lost two strokes getting back into play. The game, set and match was lost in that shrub. JD kept his cool and went right and played safe for a bogie. JD had won 2&1 on the 17th.
#18(P4): With the match lost, we were a lot more relaxed as we walked to the 18th. Neither of us had a good drive. JD’s second shot found some trees and went into the heather. My second shot was probably my best of the day. My well stuck hybrid got me to the greens from over 200y. Safely putted for par, while JD finished with a bogie. The final score of 9.5 to 8.5, underplays the drama of the fightback in the middle sections (see the score worm).
I really enjoyed the day. The course and the club were in fine condition and if I could join it, I would. John was a gracious host and did all the scoring and yardage talk. Subsequently, I learnt a great deal from John regarding golf scoring rules. More importantly, we might look at more opportunities to play at WGC. I may have come back without a win, but still had my modesty intact. Next time, I will hopefully be better aware of the course, and give John a tighter game.
With the individual game out of the way, now it is down to the Volvo Pair game next weekend. No pressure.