It’s that time of year again, my favorite tourney of the year, King of the Lake. You may remember the story from last year (but chances are you don’t because not many people read my disc golf posts all the way thru). Actually, you definitely won’t remember because it appears I didn’t actually blog about it last year. So in 2015, I played my tuchus off for two rounds, shooting a 74 (-7, rated 1004) at Bijou followed up by a shooting a 53 at Zephyr (-1, rated 969). After day 1, I found myself in 9th after the first day out of 36 pros. Then it came apart at the seams in spectacular fashion (something I don’t know much about), throwing a 63 at Sierra College (generously rated 901), then redeeming slightly at Truckee (960-rated 4 down), before collapsing again the final day at Vista (928 rated 61).
This year, I had lower expectations. The field was much deeper, having 55 pros, but I have had my own issues to deal with. My back has been hurting so much that I’m going in for injections (and possibly ablation – the burning of my nerve endings) in my back in the next week or so. Also, I’ve been spending all my free time completely redoing our house. Needless to say, I’m not really in my prime competition shape right now. So I was playing just to have some fun. So how’d it go?
ROUND 1 – Zephyr Cove – The TD Skot “thanked” me for my help with scores by putting me in a card with 3 of the five top rated players at the tourney. What’s more, the CCDG guys were there to film, and guess which card they picked? I later found out it won’t be a whole video with commentary (a good thing as you’ll soon find out), but it will be a highlights video only.
I start out on hole 2 with some jitters, and it shows. I saw my first drive off, throw a very bad up shot, and miss my putt. That’s a bogey to start (a hole I bogeyed last year as well). Then on a tough stretch of holes I have 3 drop in pars, which is nice, but then another bogey (terrible up shot). Then something pretty amazing happened. Two amazing things. My drives (which, after the first hole, had been great) basically finished out the entire round among the best off-the-tee shots I’ve had in years. I was CLUTCH off the tee. And, on the flip side, my putting was the WORST tournament putting I’ve had in years. I missed 9 putts within 45′, 6 of which were inside the 33′ circle, and 2 of those were within 15′. These aren’t exaggeration – I missed that many shots. It’s on video after all. If I had just made the 6 in the circle, I would have tied the hot round. THE HOT ROUND. Instead, I had great drive after great drive leave me with pars. I even ended my round by missing a 15′ par putt (after a great save on my only other bad drive of the round).
I did manage to squeeze out some birdies, putting me at 52 (-2, tentatively rated 979, which is right on target for last year’s scores too). More surprisingly, that 52, with my 9 missed putts, still somehow put me in the thick of it. I was 4 strokes off 2nd, 3 strokes off 3rd. I couldn’t believe it.
Assuming that the CCDG video comes out, I’ll eventually link it, and my hope is that, with it being a highlights video only, you’ll see a lot of me off the tee, and maybe a few putts in there. But man, I was one aspect of my game away from shooting the best round of my life, wonky back and all.
ROUND 2 – BIJOU – Last year I started here, but this year it was our second round. Nearly all the holes were set up the same, so I knew what the 1000-rated target was, though I gotta admit that my back was starting to give me problems, and I was just trying to save face with my putter.
I start out missing the first (easy) hole, then putting my next drive within 20′ (another easy hole). AND I MISS THE PUTT. I give a shout, immediately apologize to my group, take out my headphones, and tell myself “I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE!” Over the next several (difficult) holes, I par, and finally hit a birdie with a 20′ putt on hole 11 (we started on 7). A few holes later, the hardest on the course, I take a four (bad drive, but two good attempts). So after the first third of the course, my score is even. Ugh. Then something clicked. My katana was just gold for me the entire rest of the round (hitting just about every gap I threw it in).
My putting was better, but it wasn’t even necessary – I was putting my drives within 10-15 feet of the basket. I ended up birdieing 8 of the last 18 holes and, with the one other bogey I took near the end on the other hardest hole on the course, I ended up at -7, same as last year, currently rated at a 1000 even (which unfortunately will probably go down a point or two when the scores become official). I beat everyone on my card (by 3 or more strokes) and I managed to pull myself up to 12th (out of 55 this year). Did I manage to beat Jere Eshelman, which was been one of my goals for years now? Of course not. He also threw a 74, meaning I’ve tied him a few times, but still haven’t beaten him. Hurrrgh.
So where does this leave me? Well, almost exactly where I was last year. My back hurts about as much as last year (I ended up not playing disc golf for about 4 months last year after KotL). But this year I feel like I’m playing on house money. I didn’t plan to be competitive for many reasons, and I am. Tomorrow, I plan on going out and just trying to execute my shots, not think about my poor putting from today, not think about my implosion last year, almost certainly not putting headphones in (they seem to be a massive distraction for me).
I start tomorrow at Truckee, which was the course I’d played second last year. It’s a course I usually shoot well (despite not really caring for the course). He’s hoping my back cooperates. And I actually get some sleep! This tournament insomnia that I’ve gotten the last few years has GOT. TO. GO.