Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Last Minute Collapse

The first tournament of the season is this weekend. It is being held in Flanders near the Dutch and German borders at an inland gem of a park course called Houthalen. Almost all of Belgium’s best amateurs have signed up.

Throughout the week, the Federation warned that it might have to cancel due to poor weather and playing conditions. But the sun came out bright and beautiful and Sam teed off at 11 a.m. After five holes, he was two under. His shots then began floating off target and he ended up hitting only eight greens in regulation. But his chipping was superb and he ended with a two over par 74, putting him in fourth place, four shots behind the leader.

For the second and final round, he blasted off and reached three under par after eight holes. This put him one shot off the lead. Then, he collapsed. On the par three 12th hole, his tee shot floated right and landed behind a tree. He faced a tough shot over a bunker to the top part of the green near the flag or an easier shot to the green’s far end, a position from which he feared three putting.

After much hesitation, he chose to go over the bunker.

“I didn’t believe in the shot,” he said afterward.

Sure enough, his ball plopped into the sand and he took two shots to get out. He finished the hole with a triple bogey six. Golf is a game that allows no mental lapses and the penalty was severe: his hopes of winning the tournament suddenly had evaporated. Unable to restore his balance, Sam caromed to a nine over par 81 and a 20th place finish.

Back at home, he gave a hole by hole description of his collapse. “I just lost it,” he admitted.

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