Thursday, June 25, 2009

Missed Opportunity

Sam finished his exams by the third week of June and launched full time into his golf season. Early results have been promising. In the King’s Prize, he shot near par for the first two rounds. The final day is 36 holes so he had left home with friends at 6 a.m. My dad, Julia and Ben and I went to watch him in the afternoon.

The King’s Prize is held on one of Belgium’s six royal golf courses each year, layouts sponsored or approved by the country’s 20th century golf-loving king Leopold. This year, the site was Royal Latem, near Ghent, which was celebrating its 100th birthday.

The course is a short, wooded affair with many blind shots over sandy mounds. Before the final round, Sam stood ninth out of more than 100 entrants at three over par for the tournament. He struck the ball well and had numerous birdie opportunities. Through the 16th hole, he was even par on the round. Then on the 17th, the course’s hardest hole, he hit a ball far left, struggled to recover, and ended up with a double bogey. On the final hole, his drive veered right but he hit a splendid iron that nipped the top of the green’s false front before falling back. He chipped with aggression, rolling the ball four feet beyond the hole.

Then he three putt – for a final double bogey.

The four over par 76 put him 13th, a good, encouraging overall result, even if the final taste seemed bitter. With a 72, he could have made the top ten. Sam left the course, his face dripping in sweat and sadness.

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