Well that wasn't the day I was hoping for. An early bogey on the 2nd thanks to a poor club choice applied the pressure early in the round.
For those of you who haven't played tournament golf before, these tournaments have two components. The cut on a Friday meaning you get paid for your weeks work and then the weekend to see how much you are going to get paid. Hundreds of golfers all over the world are packing bags on a Friday and heading to the next weeks event having spent money all week and not made a cent. Imagine going to your workplace each week and not making a cent at the end of it! Not fun I can assure you.
The pressure seemed to stay on all day and for me the cut has been elusive for me on the main tour here in Japan. I missed every cut when I played up here on 2011 and missed the first two this year. Self doubt becomes a reality and it is tough sometimes to keep looking ahead and to believe you have enough game to be here and compete with these guys.
I made another bogey on the 5th hole to increase my blood pressure and when I was staring at a par putt from 17feet on the 7th with 6 feet of break I was definitely feeling it. I made the putt and followed that with another at the par 5 9th for birdie. That relaxed me a little at the turn. A tough break on 11 helped me to another bogey and all of a sudden the pressure was back on.
I concentrated on our game plan and each shot for what was required and despite a couple of good holes just couldn't buy a birdie. When I arrived at 16, a 217m par 3, I was still one under for the tournament with 3 to play. This was the first time I had seen a leader board and saw that the cut was looking like 1 under. I had no breathing room to spare at all, but in my favour was the fact that 17 and 18 weren't really tough holes.
I hit a great 2 hybrid into the 16th and saw it land in the centre of the green. Down breeze a little and that made stopping it tough and it just dribbled over the back. To my horror I arrived at the green to see my ball had found a horrible sandy patch over the back of the green. It was a brutal lie and made my shot incredibly difficult. I played a great shot from my position but could only manage to get it to ten feet. I missed the putt and thought that my chances of breaking my drought up here and making a cut were all but gone.
I played a perfect 17th hole and did everything but have the ball find the hole for birdie. This left me walking to the par 5 18th with water around three sides of the green as my final chance to make birdie and make the cut. Troy and I decided on the tee I had to try and really smash one down this hole back into the wind in an attempt to get home for two and leave two puts for birdie or even make eagle. I went after it but just left it down the right side in the rough. The Japanese guys in my group suggested I hit another ball as the out of bounds is quite close there. I didn't even know there was out if bounds over there. I hit a provisional ball and hit it on the exact same line but figured I would just walk down there and hope one of them was in. When we got down there neither ball was out if bounds and in fact I couldn't even see any out of bounds. Thanks boys for the bum steer!! Now my two balls were in vastly different positions. One was half buried in thick rough and the other was sitting on a cart path some 30m closer to the green. I walked to the one in the rough hoping beyond all hope that this was my second ball as the one on the cart path meant the green was reachable. You can imagine the relief when the one in the rough was my provisional ball. I scooped it up and headed to my first ball knowing full well that this was the last throw of the dice.
Troy and I worked out the distance and we figured I had 179m to the front of the green and to carry the water on the line to the pin I had 185m roughly. I took my drop off the cart path which was a very strategic drop. I dropped it right on the line of "no nearer the whole" and because I was on a downslope it was always going to go closer to the hole. Under the rules if it rolls closer you have to re-drop and if it does it again you must place the ball on the place where it first struck the ground. My second drop was a perfect drop with the ball landing exactly on the spot I wanted to play from and the ball rolled clearly nearer to the hole. This meant I could place the ball and in the area I was there wasn't many half decent lies let alone good ones. The spot it landed was the shortest rough which I thought would give me the best chance at going for the green. I measured up the 4 iron and sucked in a couple of deep breathes of that oxygen stuff before stepping in to the ball. I hit it well but it came out a little right and that meant a longer water carry. I ran out into the fairway to watch, hoping not to see a splash but I didn't see it come down. Troy's words still ring strong in my ears "it's safe Matty, it's over!" I was relieved and it left me a tricky little putt from off the green for eagle. I missed it and unfortunately it rolled some 3 feet past leaving me a nasty little left to right breaking putt to make the cut.....I made it! What an afternoon it was. I putted with my old putter today after just feeling like the left handed still needs far more work. It is definitely a work in progress and something I will continue to pursue but as for today the broomy worked ok.
What a huge relief and I feel as though the monkey is finally off my back up here. I am hoping it breaks the shackles and I can go on in leaps and bounds now!
As for tomorrow, I am playing golf and have two days to go rip into!! I can't wait!!