Monday, July 4, 2011

The Final Round - No Pressure, Right?

Congratulations. You're among the first to read the genesis of Button's Blog: Chasing Birdies. In this space, I'll write as often as possible, mostly about golf in Texas. The goal is to entertain (and possibly) enlighten you on the Greatest Game Ever Invented as its played in the Greatest State in the Union.

Texans tend to brag a little, you understand.

While I'm not a native Texan, I've lived in the Lone Star State for more than 12 years in three different cities. I call myself a "naturalized Texan." Yes, I got here as fast as I could and I don't plan on leaving anytime soon.

I'm writing today from the beautiful, spacious Sullivan Compound near Crockett, which is close to Lufkin. Sort of, anyway. I'm somewhere between Dallas and Houston in the Great Wide Open. It's mostly cattle and countryside ... and it's beautiful. At night, the stars light up the sky like a million night lights.

I've been talking about starting a blog for about five years. I stood on the cliff of blogdom and looked out at the vastness of it all. I wanted to take the plunge but something always stopped me. Fear, I suppose. Of the unknown. Of the commitment. Of setting the damn thing up. And picking a name for it.

Encouraged by good friends, I took the leap this morning. Much thanks to Sharon, Supawn and Chad for the shove off the cliff. It's what I needed ... and isn't that what friends are for?

So ... about the title to this entry. Today is the final round of the 38th Annual Firecracker Invitational at historic Spring Creek Country Club in Crockett. Chad Sullivan and his father, Carroll, have been members there for years. Chad invited me to play on his two-man team for this year's tournament.

It is a 54-hole, best ball affair. Chad and I are in the Second Flight, with all the other high-single-digit handicappers. When we tee off today at 1 p.m., we'll be two shots off the lead in our flight. The tight, tree-lined Spring Creek course is a par 70. Through 36 holes, Chad and I sit at 2-under 138.

That's damn good, too, considering we bogeyed three of our first four holes in the first round. Worse, the one hole we didn't bogey in our pitiful start was a short par-5. A par on that hole amounted to another bogey in reality. Any team hoping to win will birdie that hole.

Since that tragic start, however, we played the next 32 holes at 5-under par. We shot 67 yesterday and made our charge near the top of the leader board. That short par-5 we parred in the first round? Chad eagled it yesterday. Chad hits the ball into next week, but sometimes it doesn't go in the direction he planned. When it does, we're looking at birdie or better.

I'm a little more of a tactical golfer. Fairways and greens are my gig. So it's my job to make pars and sneak in the occasional birdie. Chad plays hyper-aggressively, not unlike Phil Mickelson. He's trying to birdie every hole. Well, that's not really true.

Chad is trying to eagle every hole.

We make a damn good team.

I'm thinking another 67 today will get it done for us. But 65 would be better.

So what's at stake in all this?

Besides pride and dignity ... a lot of freaking money. There was a huge Calcutta the night after the first round. This is serious business. I've been told there will be a small, but vocal gallery following us today. After covering golf as a job for all these years, I'll get to experience (in a very small way) what it feels like to play the game I love while people watch.

Hopefully, my next post will detail how Chad and I won our flight and took home the truckloads of cash on the line.

Wish us luck.

And Happy Independence Day.

Thanks for reading. I'm off to chase birdies.

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