Seacoast Christian Golf Club
Encinitas Ranch GC,
Friday, October 21, 2011
Last week we had a small field of players for our Championship Match event. The 2 most important players, Lee Fitzgerald and Tom Lange were ready to go as this finals match would determine our 2011 Seacoast Cup Champion. Several other players were present to have a fun round of match play golf. One new player joined out group, Richard Scott, who is a local resident and a seasoned student of the game. Welcome Richard !
Below are the results and details of the match. Enjoy !
Pre Match Notes:
The morning air was crisp. The sun was still making its way to the horizon as a few golfers began assembling themselves at the range to warm up their swings. Through the darkness, one could make out 2 golfers from the Seacoast Christian Golf Club who were already primed and ready to go for their "Finals Championship Match." It would be a match up that had been planned for over a year. The Seacoast Cup was now up for grabs between our 2 remaining players who have survived 3 rounds of match play competition which began in September. Lee Fitzgerald and Tom Lange have both turned up their golf games up another notch and now both hope to showcase their best swings today, as today's winner will become the 2011 Seacoast Cup Champion.
How they got here:
Lee Fitzgerald def. Tom Lange 5 and 3
Front Nine: Today's Championship Finals match started out with both players being a bit tentative and not getting off to a great start. Each player showing signs of the pressure of not making big mistakes. After the first hole there was "no blood" drawn and the two Championship Finalist moved onto hole #2 (par 3) with the match All Square. As each player settled into their game, it became apparent that both players were all too nervous about their play as each had difficulty getting off the tee, or getting their balls on the green in regulation. Lee came out of the 2nd hole with a 1 up lead as Tom scored a double bogey and didn't get any help from his handicap index which afforded him 15 strokes for the match. As the next few holes went, Tom's game began to waiver and was very much in line with the woes of a high handicap player. Several double and triple bogeys were posted, making it easy for Lee to halve holes. Lee did open the door for Tom on hole #5 when he scored a double bogey and with Tom's stroke, there was some relief to Tom's game as he continued to struggle with his clubs. As the players got to the 9th hole, Tom realized that his "intact" game control was not where he planned it to be, and with being only 2 down he realized how fortunate he was that Lee himself wasn't having a great day at the golf course. For Lee he realized that he was very fortunate that Tom was showcasing a different match play game than what he played with when he won his last 2 matches. Lee knew that he had to begin to play some solid golf or else Tom's game may somehow wake up and begin to put the pressure on. Just 3 weeks previous, Lee witnessed Tom overcome a 4 down deficit to Curtis in the Semi Finals and he didn't what that to happen to him today. With that, on the par 5 (9th hole), Lee exercised the best golf he could manage for the morning and finally made a solid par (almost made birdie), which game him more momentum going into the final 9 holes. Tom now realized that his game was in need of major calibration. His driving off the tee was inconsistent, his putting was unsure, and it seems as though the more he tried, the tougher things became. Curtis took Tom aside at the turn and told him.."Tom, you have the game in you...just relax and go one shot at a time."
Back Nine: Taking Curtis' advice, Tom took some deep breaths and decided to refocus his efforts on just playing within himself, and not to worry about his erratic play on the front nine. He was 3 down and all he had to do is begin to bogey each hole and the match would come back to him. #10 hole was just what he needed as he made a natural par and was able to win a hole to stop Lee's winning momentum. Then on the long par 5 hole #11, Lee again played strong and scored a par, but Tom somehow had reorganized his game to tap out for a bogey (net par) to halve the hole...no blood drawn, and Tom was beginning to feel things were beginning to shift his way. Then on the par 3 ( hole #12), both players fought it out by showing off their short game skills as each player missed the green but were able to chip up and 2 putt for a tie bogey. Lee sensing that Tom's game was back in the saddle and with Tom's renewed game of keeping pace with his, Lee knew he had to dig deeper so that Tom's momentum could be contained. The difficult hole #13 (par 4 handicap #2), proved to be the turning point in match as Lee's 2 up lead climbed to a 3 up lead. But this was not due to Lee's stellar play... Tom once again fell into the pressures of trying to make something happen, and off the tee he lost his tee shot, then his second shot came up short close to the right side rough, then he hit into the bunker, and the wheels began to fall off the cart. Taking the "snowman" 8 on the card handed Lee another winning hole to give Lee a comfortable 3 up lead with five holes left to play. Tom reminded himself that he had to somehow stop Lee's momentum, but he had to find another solution to give himself the winning factor.
side note: It was at that moment on the 13th hole, as the players were putting their clubs away and getting into their cart when Curtis noticed that there was blood dripping from Lee's mouth. After closer evaluation it appeared that Lee had sustained a fairly deep laceration to the inside of this lip with a small exit wound on the outer boundary of his upper lip causing some bleeding. Lee asked Curtis how severe it looked, but knowing how important this golf round was, Curtis said..."Lee you have to just go on..." Lee put a towel to the area to give pressure to his bleeding lip and said..."Let's go to the next tee !" With that the players continued. It may seem that perhaps Tom took a swipe at Lee with a club to get that extra added edge he needed, but in fact Lee reported that while putting his clubs quickly into the bag, he grazed his lip with his pitching wedge, thus causing the cut. Lee explained..." I knew I drew first blood at the 2nd hole to day...but now I'm really dripping with blood..and I hope Tom doesn't get any ideas now and go into a golf frenzy and start to take me apart."
On the following #14 hole, (bleeding lip and all) Lee took honors on the tee and placed a nice drive down the right side of the fairway. Tom now was hungry to make his last stand and hopefully strike at Lee's big lead. With this he took a deep breath as he stood over his ball with the driver and let it loose to only watch his drive hook into the left out of bounds area. Tom could only smile and declared "this just isn't my day!" Lee, despite his bleeding lip, was feeling the Championship Trophy coming closer to him and he flawlessly hit four nice strokes to get his par, while Tom clawed himself to post a double bogey, giving Lee another hole for a commanding 4 up lead with 4 holes to play. Tom was now against the wall....he had to win the next 4 holes or his match play winning streak would be over. Lee calmly... realizing the gravity of this next hole... took his game to the next level and as if he was untouchable, he smoothly orchestrated another 4 controlled golf shots to make another par. Tom again fell short and could only settle for another double bogey, giving the match and the win to his dear buddy Lee. The two players shook hands and congratulated each other for their championship match. A big smile (with a bloody lip) and a face of relief was all over Lee as he realized he just won the 2011 Seacoast Cup Championship with a win over Tom. The match went 15 holes with the final match play score of : Lee Fitzgerald def. Tom Lange 5 and 3
Post Interview Comments: Back in the clubhouse, the media team met with both players and inquired about the match. Both players were quite happy to discuss the match. Here are their comments.
Tom Lange... "..it was a great win for Lee today. He played steady and took the wind out of me. I tried so hard to claw myself out of the deep holes I created. In the early part of the match, Lee left the door open so many times for me to take advantage of some of his misguided shots. But he seemed to recover and I just couldn't turn any of my mistakes around to my advantage. Today my game somehow left me. I had difficulties getting off the tee with my drives. Then I couldn't make needed putts when I had to. It was a tough day on the course for me..but I'm so happy that I got the experience to play in the championship. I'm still amazed at how I was able to get here and thank all the players who I played with who were so gracious in their losses to me. It's a dream come true for a high handicapper like me to be able to compete for a big title. Today, I came up short, but I'm going to use this experience and put some work into my game so that next year I will be better prepared player. I guess the pressure finally got to me. Lee is my good friend of many years, and I guess if I had to lose to anyone today, it couldn't be any better than leaving the 2011 Championship Trophy to him. He is so deserving of this win and title. I'm so happy for him !"
Lee Fitzgerald "...it was a crazy match today. I wasn't playing to my best ability today...especially in the early parts of the round. It took me about 7 holes to finally warm up to the course, and then I started to get my game in gear. Tom seemed to be a bit tentative today, and when I gave him opportunities to get his match into gear, he just wouldn't take advantage of the situation. I feel his pain as I saw him make shots that he hasn't shown at all in his recent match play matches. In one way I can only be thankful to him that he saved some of those bad shots for this match, as I saw him make some great streaks against Curtis Chan in the Semi's and Dan Anderson in the Quarter Finals. I know it all started for him when he won his first match against Michael Gibbs, and we all thought that perhaps it was kind of a "lucky" win for him. But when he took out Dan and Curtis, we all realized that Tom somehow has "game" and you have to pay attention to him. I was fortunate today that he just didn't get on one his streaks today where I had to be in a position to par or birdie a hole to tie or match him. Tom has really improved his overall game and hopefully he will take this experience and get his game to new level. I'm sure we will see his handicap continue to drop as he works out the kinks in his game. As for me, I'm so honored to be the overall winner. It's hard to believe that I did it today. I'm sure it will sink in over the next few weeks. I really appreciate Tom today as he was a very gracious contender...and even though there was real blood drawn today in the match..it was not by his doing at all...we truly had a fun time on the course today !"
2011 Seacoast Cup Champion - Lee Fitzgerald
Player's Bracket Match Play
2011 Seacoast Cup Playoff Schedule:
2011 Player's Bracket Points
Player's Bracket Winner Congratulations to Ted Clinite, who has been present for all our playoff events, and he has managed to rack up ample points to be our "Player's Bracket" champion. Nice job Ted !
Friday, Novmber 18 - Breakfast of Champions / President's Cup - - Arrowood GC 6:30a Breakfast
8:00a tee times $55 / player - breakfast at grill
Friday, December 9- Winter outing at La Costa Resort - - $75 / player includes cart and range
7:15a tee times
Playoff Season Events are listed below. All players are welcomed to join in on our "match play" format competition.
Round 1 - Wild Card Match - September 2,
2011 - Rancho Bernardo Inn Resort GC
- Rancho Bernardo Inn Resort GC
Players 1-4 receive a first round bye: Lee Fitzgerald (1), Jim Freitas (2), Dan Anderson (3), Curtis Chan (4)
Wild Card Match Results
Round 2 - Quarter Finals September 16, 2011 Arrowoood GC
Quarter Finals Results
Quarter Finals Results
Round 3 - Championship - October 21, 2011 - Encinitas Ranch GC
Any questions can be made to Curtis Chan at: CurtisChanDDS@aol.com