My Own “US Open” at Torrey Pines

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I’m never late for a tee time. Ever. Especially when I have the good fortune to tee it up on a course that has hosted the US Open and is a regular PGA Tour stop. As you can see, yesterday morning started out pretty cool.

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Tee time was 8:40. I’m staying about an hour north of Torrey Pines…..so I hit the road at 5:45am. Wanted to have time to warm up and stuff. I’m such a dork that way. I got distracted a few times by the scenery along the Pacific Coast Highway and pulled over a couple of times. No one around, just the surf crashing. Such peace & awe. I’ve always felt that way at daybreak on the ocean.

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The Golf Course:

The day broke cool, cloudy and a little chilly. I’ve found that the marine layer typically burns off by 10am and the sun comes out. But, teeing it up in the light fog was ok by me as we looked up the first fairway and the Pacific beyond.

Burned the lip for birdie on #1 but realized that I was facing a course without a ton of birdie chances. This is a BIG golf course. Playing from the Blue Tees ( several of them were back at US Open settings), I found myself with 175-200 yards left on most holes where I actually found fairway. Also found a useful strategy….hit it the fairway. It’s really easy to make double when you don’t.

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The greens were firm and rolled damn near perfect, and were really quick. Yes, everything tends to break towards the ocean, but man they’re subtle. I had a few 3 putts (well, four 😦 ) and found myself not questioning pace, but struggling to commit to a line. Fun problem to have while admiring the scenery.

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I saw the glider take off area up close on #14 or #15. I saw the canyons carved out of the land, and they are spectacular. I walked in the footsteps of Tiger & Rocco. And I birdied #7 where I think Tiger did the same to win the Open in 2008. I played the par 3’s with hybrid in hand on all of them, I think!

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#18 is a pretty basic par 5. Fairly long, but nothing tricky. The pond fronting the green is TINY! But, the green and the bunker complex is nasty, with a slope going back to the pond that I found you can’t truly see on TV. Now I know why wedges spin back into the water.

I drove it right of the fairway bunkers, hit 7 iron to 77 yards and had this left as my approach:

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Landed the ball 10′ left of the hole, it spun left and went into the “bowl” in the front left where the flagstick usually goes on Sunday for the Tour event. Left me 30′ hole high, but coming up the slope with a 5′ break and the putt running away towards the water at the end……and I left the putt one roll short on a perfect line for birdie. Had the putter raised over my head and was walking it in! Good two putt, though.

I shot 82. Didn’t light it up, but didn’t do anything stupid except 3 putt for double three times….and found out that when your stuck in nasty rough, play out sideways and play hard.

I’m a lucky man to have had the chance to play Torrey Pines and enjoy a round of golf with a good friend, and meet a new one. The day was peaceful and the setting was hard to beat. Visually, the most stunning golf course I’ve played.

Be well, and play well. Most of all, enjoy the time on the course. What a game we all play, huh?

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