Everyone wants to win. Hell, most hate to lose so bad that they'll do anything to win. When my daughter woke up yesterday morning just before 7am I was excited. The sun was blazing through our uncovered windows and I was wide awake. I wanted to win. It was only a matter of hours until team FloBeds teed off; playing for all the money, playing for pride and playing for a full year's worth of bragging rights.
Let's just say that it was a very long and very strange day.
We ended up matching up by handicaps which made the matches pretty good. I played against Matty, Burkey was matched up with Wally, Turner played Jack, and Allegrini teed off against Bill Brecis(sp?). Team McMillen was gonna be tough but after squeaking a win last week we were ready to play hard and earn that first place spot. The weirdness doesn't even start until the matches were over but I'll get to that in a minute.
Wally is hard to beat and although Burkey lost his match and was angry at himself about his "poor" performance, he played well; it just wasn't enough to beat last year's match play champion. With five holes left Burkey was dormie against Wally and although he made it interesting, the match was over two holes later.
My match started pretty bad. Even though I was 9 over par after 5 holes I was only 2-down with a lot of golf to play. When we made the turn, I was 1-down after bogeying the 9th. I had a feeling that if I could just get off the tee, my chipping and putting would carry me into the lead and I'd be able win the match. I love when my feelings are right! Matty started to falter after a few more holes and before I knew it I was 2-up! I par'd 5 holes in a row and match was over by the 17th hole. The best part about the back nine was that I was only 3 over par going into the 18th! I wanted to play it out for my score but I hit a tee shot just out of bounds and had to take a 7. The day before I shot the best round of my life in the Sunday Stableford, posting an 81!! After that, my 89 against Matty felt somehow mediocre but I have never put up two rounds in the 80s back to back. I was feeling good.
The matches were over but that when the madness started...
My stomach sank as we walked toward the other groups gathering around the 18th green. Allegrini won his match and Turner lost his. Since I won mine and Bukey lost his, team FloBeds, once again, had to chose a man for playoff holes. Remembering my win last week some of the spectators were saying, "Grab your 5-iron, Marshall!" At the moment I wasn't so much nervous as I was annoyed. I was exhausted and wanted it all to be over. Not that I didn't feel confident that I could do it, in the back of my mind I just wanted someone else to shoulder the pressure this time. Allegrini had an amazing round and was feeling confident and regardless who they picked his match-up was solid. It was Allegrini's turn to carry us toward a win.
The McMillen boys picked Wally, who is ridiculously consistent, straight off the tee and had a solid win against Burkey. The two walked up toward the first tee and a group of at least fifteen followed, eagerly awaiting the drama to unfold. Boy did it ever!
Chuck teed off first and even though every single drive he had hit that day was piped down the middle, he toed his drive right and into the "jail" of trees lining the 8th fairway. Wally proceeded to smash a drive straight down the middle and everyone cheered as the playoff drama heated up.
I walked over with the rest of the Flobeds team to see how bad Allegrini's 2nd shot was going to be. As he considered his options and my hopes of 1st place started to dwindle, the unthinkable happened. I looked over toward where Wally's ball should have been and there was nothing there! At least a dozen guys were pacing the ditch and the hazard near the pond. Nothing. Nada.
As we were walking to the 8th hole where Allegrini's ball landed, there was a group of young boys coming down the 8th fairway. Many of us, including myself saw at least one of the boys in the 1st fairway. Of course, everyone started to assume one of the boys picked up Wally's ball. When the boys didn't confess, there had to be a decision made as to where Wally should play his next shot and what the penalty would be. Needless to say, this decision took awhile. The sun was getting lower in the sky, the wind felt chillier and no one felt good about Wally's situation.
Rather than having him re-tee, the three board members in the gallery decided that Wally had to assume his ball kicked left into the hazard and he would be allowed to drop suffering a 1-stroke penalty. I can tell you that our team didn't feel too great about this because it would be a very strange way to win a championship. But, golf is golf and there are rules for a reason. Wally was getting a very good break considering the circumstances and what the official rules stated should be done about a lost ball. When the ball is nowhere to be found assumptions have to be made. It felt a little stranger still when Allegrini hit another "bad" shot, and miraculously missed every branch as it passed through the trees to land near the creek. His third was onto the green a little more than 20 feet below the hole. Wally's 3rd shot was right and short of the green and his 4th landed above the hole about 10 feet. Chuck's putt for par all but fell into the hole and he tapped in for bogey. Then, the moment of truth. If Wally made his putt they would have to play another hole and it would almost make the lost ball fiasco feel okay. Wally missed though, and we sneaked out 1st place. It felt weird but the truth was: 2009 Champions = FloBeds.
After it was finally over around 9pm we all decided to hit Patterson's Pub for a victory round and food. Burkey's car wouldn't start because he left his lights on. After several failed jump attempts we tried rolling him down the hill so he could pop the clutch. Nothing. 20 minutes later and several more jump attempts with Turner's truck, there was a spark of life in Burkey's truck and it started!
We arrived at Patterson's and no one had cash which is all that they take. We tried the ATM in the bar but it was out of money; so was the bank ATM across the street. At this point, I never thought I would actually get that victory beer and after a ridiculously long day, that was all that sounded good. I had money enough for the round but not enough for food and I really wanted to eat. I realized then that all the ATMs were empty because of the 4th of July festivities but that we could get cash back at Harvest Market! Beer on!
As Turner and I pulled onto Chestnut street after an hour in the bar I looked into the night sky and saw why everything felt so strange that night. It was a full moon! Satisfied that all would be okay and eventually 1st place would feel like 1st place, I smiled up at the moon. All I got in return was an eerie, glowing satisfaction that he made our night the only way he could. Weird.
Dragon on the Ledge