Monday, March 16, 2009

Good News From France

Sam just got some great news: he made the field for the upcoming French International Boys Championship held over Easter starting April 9 in Toulouse.

The invitations go out only to the top 100 players, judged by the lowest handicap. Entries poured in from all over the continent. Sam’s 1.1 handicap put him in 97th place. When he applied, he thought he had little chance to be accepted. Now he’s looking forward to testing himself against Europe’s best.

Sam has been practicing hard over the winter. During school holidays in October and February, he trained with the French-speaking Belgian team in Biarritz. In December, he travelled to Florida to participate in the Dixie Amateur, one of the most prestigious men’s amateur events in America. I was surprised that he was invited. Sam turned out to be one of the youngest players in the field, which was packed with characters from the book, including Peter Uihlein and Mu Hu.

Unfortunately, I could not attend. But Sam told me that the Dixie course ran well over 7,200 yards and that he started out in awe of his fellow players, who had several inches and pounds on him and hit the ball further, reaching 600 yard par fives in two shots, while it took him a drive, fairway wood and a pitch.

In the first round, Sam teed of at 7 a.m., meaning he needed is first round was catastrophic – an 81. He slept poorly the night before and felt overwhelmed. My dad took him the second day for a more reasonable mid-morning tee time and he blossomed, finishing with a sparkling even par 72 and a birdie on the par five finishing hole where he pitched almost in for an eagle.

The leader and eventual champion, Scotland’s Gavin Dear, shot 62. Sam still has a way to go.

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