Blog 87, 1/9/11 - Christmas Classic, Hyundai TOC and Polar Bear Open Results

My brother-in-law approaches the 9th green.
How on Earth does a former golf instructor and British PGA apprentice rack up 118 shots at a virtual TPC Sawgrass during the Christmas Classic Indoor Golf Tournament at Joe's Indoor Golf Lab on Hannegan Rd?
Easy. For starters, judging from the simulated AboutGolf version, and from what I've seen of the actual course on TV during the Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass is unfathomably difficult. Quite apart from the fact its most notorious hole is made up of a tee, a green and 130 yards of water separating them, there are countless other water hazards, most of the 95 bunkers are either very large, very small or very deep, and several putting surfaces appear to have been modeled on the Himalayas Putting Course at St Andrews but are much quicker and therefore considerably more treacherous. More than once, my ball veered so far offline the cup disappeared from the screen and I left myself well outside the 9ft circle inside which all putts are conceded. And not having played any holes at Joe's place for months, it took me until well into the back nine to suss out exactly how hard I needed to hit chip shots to keep them on the green let alone get them anywhere near the hole.
Then there was my six-year-old boy Sam who insisted on taking most of my shots for me despite not really appreciating just how demanding some of those shots were...ah, the confidence of youth. Of course, on seeing all the water surrounding the 17th green, he decided he wanted to hit my tee shot. But, instead of taking dad's advice and favoring the dry land way to the left (his career shot would have gotten him a little more than halfway across the water), he took dead aim and, in quick succession, sunk four balls into the drink, not once looking up to assess his position, realign, change clubs (to be fair, he's only got one) or take a breath. He returned to his seat dejected while the computer gave us an automatic quadruple-bogey seven.
It certainly wasn't the first time the computer had been unable to record any more of our strokes and handed us the quadruple. It was in fact, the sixth time. Together we had raced to the turn in 56 and it had gone downhill from there.
I'll tell you what though, I probably had more fun shooting this 118 than I ever did shooting 72 back in the day. What's more, we beat my brother-in-law, Sam's uncle, who stayed with us over Christmas. He's not a regular golfer and his rustiness showed while putting together a tidy 130. He doesn't live anywhere near here but I won't embarrass him by giving you his name. This internet thing gets everywhere nowadays.
I'd have thought it unlikely Tris Sam's uncle and I finished anywhere near the top of the leaderboard. I'll post the results as soon as Joe sends them.

Jonathan Byrd
If you saw this afternoon's coverage of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii you'd have seen my pick for the week, Dustin Johnson, close with a fine five-under 68 to finish the event on 14-under and tied for 9th - can't be too unhappy with a top-ten to start the year, even if there were only 32 players that completed all 72 holes. Of course, Johnson's weekend performance was overshadowed somewhat by the revelation he is dating Natalie Gulbis with whom he played at the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge back in November.
He delined to comment on their relationship, and the word now is he's withdrawn from the Sony Open in Honolulu in order to fly back home. "I've got to take care of some things," he told Remind me not to pick him this week.
Jonathan Byrd won at Kapalua in a play-off against Robert Garrigus who blew last year's FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis with a triple-bogey seven on the 72nd hole (then lost in a playoff), but rebounded by winning the final event of the year - the Children's Miracle Network Classic in Florida. He posted 24-under 268 Sunday after smoking a 295-yard five-wood approach down the hill to the last green and making a birdie four. A four at the same hole would have won Byrd the tournament in regulation, but he could manage only a par. The pair halved the first playoff hole - the 18th - with fives, but Byrd's par 4 at the second extra hole - the 1st - was good enough for his fifth tour win.

Congratulations to Messrs O’Laughlin, Masterman, Ragan, and Crocker who shot a Gross 11-under 133 to win yesterday's Polar Bear Open at Lake Padden. Messrs Elvebak, Phay, Tercero, and Dahlen won the Net prize on 128.

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