Sunday, June 27, 2010

Last Chance

Sam rushes from a final exam in history to play in the Belgian National Championship. He knows this is his final opportunity to make the Belgian national team. He is ranked sixth and still has hope – if he plays well.

The first day is mediocre – five over par 77.

Tee time for the second round is early in the morning 8 a.m. We rise at 5:30 a.m. and drive an hour to the course, which is located in eastern Flanders. I will caddy. Sam struggles at the beginning and is four over at the turn. He then gets two birdies on holes 10 and 12. But he falters coming in and finishes four over par at 76.

This is good enough to make the cut, putting him 36th. But it is not sparkling.

On the final day, 36 holes are on the menu. Again, a 5:30 a.m. start is required. Sam is solid on the first round. The putting lesson with Phil Kenyon is paying off. But he is not hitting the ball well and giving himself enough opportunities for birdies on the par five. He finishes the morning at plus four again, a bit disappointed.

In the afternoon, he still is not hitting the ball with authority. But he is sinking putts on almost all holes and he is birdying the par fives. He gets to the turn in even par. He birdies the next par five and on the 16th hole, he almost drives the hole, chipping to within seven feet and sinking the putt. Although he bogies the 18th, he finishes one under par, beating all his direct competitors for the Belgian national team. Altogether, he is a respectable 19th.

He displayed a newfound maturity on the course. Even though he didn’t hit the ball well, he managed the course and scrambled for his best round of the year. “I did everything I could to make the team,” he says on the ride back home.

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