Treyburn CC in Durham, NC
I played in the Rex Hospital Open Local Qualifier at Treyburn CC in Durham, NC on May 1. I shot 75 and finish tied for 19th. They were taking one player and 67 was the low.
This was a great experience for me. I played with three pros and I got another taste of what trying to qualify for a pro event is like. This was my third time trying to qualify for a pro event, and if you count U.S. Open qualifiers, it was my fifth. I’ve been close a couple times, at least close for me. I made it through the Pre-qualifier for the Wyndham Championship in 2014 but played poorly in the Monday qualifier. And I missed qualifying for U.S. Open Sectional last year by 1 shot! So I know what it feels like to try to qualify in these tough events with a lot of good players.
This particular qualifier taught me even more. Not only how low you have to go in 18 holes, but how I personally have to manage my game. It’s so easy to think “I’ve got to get to 5 or 6-under so I’ve got to aim at every pin and hope I hit it where I’m aimed.” But this isn’t my strength. At least not right now it’s not. My strength is my putting. And I need to learn that for me to play my personal best I need to play to that strength. This means aiming away from flags and making sure I’ve got a putt. The amount of maturity this takes in the moment is crazy! But the goal isn’t to hit the ball as close as possible. The goal is to make birdies. And the way I do that best is setting myself up with as many putts as possible.
I learned these lessons the hard way on multiple occasions by aiming at flags and not hitting the perfect shots required and short-siding myself. If I had aimed away to the safe side and tried to be 20 feet away I could’ve hit a bad shot and accidentally hit it towards the flag. But when I aim at a tucked pin, there’s only one side that I can safely miss it on. And seeing how I don’t hit every shot perfect, there’s a 50% chance I’ll miss it on the wrong side.
This isn’t the case for everybody. Some people’s strength is their ball striking and not their putting. They have to aim at flags. This is the only way they can make birdies. But I have the advantage to be able to aim away and do the work with my putter. This allows me to make fewer mistakes and less big numbers. I have to remember this and use this to my advantage.
Maybe I can reminisce back to before I had a range finder. Range finders were always too expensive for me when I was a kid, so I had to measure everything by the yardages in the fairway. And of course these are to the middle of the green. So I was hitting shots to the middle of the green yardage. When I pull out the range finder and laser the flag, it obviously puts the flag yardage in my mind, and this gets me thinking how I can hit it that yardage, when realistically I should be thinking of how I can get the ball on the green and just have a putt at birdie.
It’s crazy that I’m still learning lessons like this after 13 years of playing. But I’ve got to take what I learn and apply it to next time. That’s how I’ll improve.