CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (July 25, 2010) -- On Sunday at Carnoustie I just had to finish my round and post a 72 hole score and I’d be low amateur in the 2010 Senior Open at Carnoustie. Although my back was barking and I struggled physically there was nothing that was going to hold me back from posting on Sunday. I had the pleasure of playing with Gordon Brand Jr and again it was an experience of a lifetime for me inside the ropes at one of the great courses in the world.
Probably the highlight of my round was on the par five 14th hole where I hit driver 7 iron to 20 feet and almost made eagle. That combined with my par-par finish on 17 & 18.
But to be honored during the awards ceremony with the silver medal as low amateur was the pinnacle of the experience. To walk back onto the 18th green and meet all the gentlemen from the R&A and tournament sponsors was quite amazing.
However to meet eloquent Bernhard Langer was truly special. The picture above will be a memory I’ll cherish when Bernhard graciously agreed to be photo with me on the 18th green at Carnoustie. He is a class guy and he ia a real and caring human being.
Editor's Note: Randy's finish would have netted him the equivalent of $13,500 if he was a pro.
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (July 24, 2010) -- This is a course that changes sometimes by the second, not minutes! The wind can shift in the bat of an eye or I should say fly as these killer flies were in full force today as the conditions were calm and ideal (other than the flies).
I was so excited to finally hit the second fairway that I didn’t focus on the second shot which was a miserable rope hook into the bad gorse left of the green. But knowing my back was hurting and hitting it very poorly on the practice range I knew that I was going to have a very tough day..but a rope hook into the gorse, that hurt.
The 4th hole for some reason has been magical as I have yet to hit the fairway. After three poor drives into the right rough I have been able to get the ball onto the green and somehow make 3 birdies. But today’s was ridiculous as I bounced my second shot over a deep bunker 20 yards short of the green that rolled up and 10 feet from the pin. The round seesawed about with many poor shots followed by many saving putts for bogey and even double bogey on #10.
My finish is what I’d like to dwell on for a minute as I’ve described 15-18 as the toughest finishing holes I’ve ever played. The "CarNasty Four" I’ll deem them, can really take a good round and flush it straight to St Andrews (a mere 20 miles away). After an ugly bogey on 15 I was determined to keep the +10 off the carry board in my group and hold it below that double digit over par number.
Despite my good intention I again hooked a 6 iron to #16 that left me off the green left but in a puttable position about 90 feet away. I whacked this putt and watched it roll up the hill and settle about 2 feet from the hole securing my second par on this very difficult par three. So happily I walked to 17 tee where I decided to be aggressive and hit 3 wood to leave as little to the green as possible. A low skinny 3 wood that just cleared the burn left me with 200 to the pin located back right. The way my back was feeling it was impossible to know if I should aim further left or right as I was missing shots in both directions. I aimed at the far left side of the green and hit an okay approach some 80 feet from the pin. I thank those of you that have been following the online scoring and saw that I made a birdie on this very tough hole, but it was a VERY long putt that enable me to walk to the 18th tee at only +8 and feeling like I had just stole one.
The tee shot on 18 is perhaps the most intimidating tee shot I’ve ever seen, lets go over it - there is water right, 3 huge bunkers right, high rough left with a water hazard and OB for the really bad left shot. The fairway is about 18 yards wide where the right bunkers pinch in…OMG I’m glad I don’t play for pay, it’s tough enough playing this hole for fun let alone for cash. Today I’m happy to report that I did hit a great drive up the left side of the fairway leaving me only 140 to the pin. After a nice wedge into the middle of the green I was happy with my par and 73 on a day it really could/should have been 83. My putter was the hero with so many draino putts I began to almost expect to make everything I got over.
These Senior Pro’s are the real deal and don’t kid yourself if you think there games aren’t as good as most tour pro’s. I spoke with Tom Lehman last night who finished 14th in the open the week before and I saw Corey Pavin and chatted with him a bit (he lost in a PGA Tour Playoff this yr already) THESE GUYS ARE GOOD!!
Me, I know my limitations and after 9 days of golf in a row my back has said no more. Although to finish my quest for low amateur honors and an exemption into next years event I must finish 72 holes and sign a correct scorecard, something I think I can get done. At this point my putter is saving me all over the place, but with so much trouble off the tee it’s impossible to avoid the looming hazards on a course that requires you to let er fly.
Playing in an event like this only further validates the good decision I’ve made to stay in the proper league of amateur golf. To make a living playing the likes of Carnoustie would certainly leave me hungry and poor. For those of you that are aspiring to play this game for pay, let me remind you that what goes on behind the scenes is not as glamorous as it may seem. The travel and hotels and weeks away from home take there toll on these guys. Playing week after week and grinding out a living is a very tough thing to do!
I’m not trying to discourage anyone but this game has so many levels of competence that need to be achieved before you advance to the next. Trying to hit 20 yard wide fairways into 30mph winds is something you’d better be able to do quite well, along with the many 5-10 foot par saving putts you’ll have. Every time I get the opportunity to play a course like Carnoustie I get reminded why I love this game so much…because the challenge is never ending and each day presents a whole new set of challenges.
I was actually trying to manufacture some kind of different swing today as I was getting tired of being in the gorse, bunker and high hay. But really all you can do is go to the next hole and keep on fighting to the end. This has been a dream week for me and I’ll remember and cherish all the crazy places I drove my golf ball. The challenges of navigating from point A to B here make this quite the test.
On Sunday evening at the champions ceremony I’ll be presented with a silver medal for being the lone surviving amateur. I’ll be proud as hell to accept it and know that I don’t have to make my living in this fashion. However trying to get to Eugene Oregon for the start of the Pacific Coast Amateur on Tuesday morning is presenting another challenge that I won’t even begin to describe how I’m going to pull that off with Planes, Train’s and automobiles in many combination’s that hopefully will get me to the tee on time Tuesday morning.
Until tomorrow thanks for STAYING TUNED
Editor's Note: Randy fired a very respectable 73 in the third round, moving him up to T41 at 8-over par. Because he is the only amateur to survive the 36 hole cut, he is guaranteed the low amateur award and an invitation back in 2011. Randy has a Facebook page - those of you who spend (too much) time there can send along your well wishes. And while you are at it, become a fan of amateurgolf.com! To view a live leaderboard from the Senior British Open, click here>