On the links with a Championship flight match played between Mike O’Neil (Big Wheel) and Zak Zuba (Johnson), playing at the nature like New Berlin Hills Golf Course on July 21, 2012 at 8:00am.
Let the match begin, “Left, Right, Right, Left, look out” off the tee goes the ball with the big hitters trying getting a feel for the “no wind” and “wide” landing areas. It is a battle of likely the two longest bombers in the club. Both hitting 300 yard drives left and right for the first few holes. All square after 3 holes of scrambling pars.
On #4, Mike bombs left and Zak bombs to right side of fairway (first fairway hit by either). Mike plays first and pulls his second into the bunker left up near back edge (advantage Zak). Zak flares his shot left into the same banker on the flatter part of sand. Mike being somewhat tall has to bend (bad knee and all) down to reach tough bunker shot. Mike hits his shot just out, giving him a about a 20 footer downhill to save his par. Zac flips a nice sand wedge to about 5 feet. Mike rolls by downhill about 6 feet, and then makes a good comebacker for bogey, forcing Zak to make five foot putt for par. First blood Zak, as he pours putt into the middle of the cup for a “sandy”; 1-up Zak.
#5 was an adventure where nobody wanted the hole. Chunk iron tee shot by Zak leaving him about 180 yards to green; Skank Hybrid tee shot by Mike runs through trees into the middle of the fairway (advantage Mike). Zak pulls second bouncing off cart path onto next tee box (bigger advantage Mike); Mike blades wedge flying over green into tall stuff (hit a provisional to 20 feet). Zak chili dips short of green; Mike finds his ball in tall stuff and whacks out to about 35 feet. Zac pitches to a gimme bogey. Mike makes two-putt bogey, after 5 holes Zac remains 1-up.
Fore RIGHT! Wait that is “thru-the-green” right of number 6 at New Berlin Hills, Zac just made a swing very uncharacteristic of him. Mike bails safe left. Zac hitting three from tee (after lost ball) bombs into the green side banker of #8 (advantage Mike). Zac bunts short out of sand. Mike wins hole. All square after six; finishing up the remaining fairly uneventful front nine holes all square.
Starting back nine, Mike hits bomb to right (mumbles to himself aloud “oh that is gone”) wait it’s just on the hill about 200 out. Zac tee shot has tour ball flight to right edge of fairway about 150 out. Mike hits 7-iron coming just short of the green, his ball with huge chuck of mud (mumbles to himself aloud again “story of my season”). Mike makes bogey after half hazard effort at making his chip shot and tapping in for bogey; Zac just misses birdie. Zak goes to 1-up.
#11 like hole #5 on the front; nobody wanted that hole. After a violent lip out for bogey by Zac, Mike gets it back to even. Mike, with honors, hits a great tee ball onto the par 3 #12 to about 20 feet. Mikes makes the birdie putt to quickly take a 1-up lead into the par-5 thirteenth.
Two good tee shots on short par-5 #13, Zac hits 6-iron chucky just short of green with pin up front; Mike makes a no so good swing at 7-iron but shoved it right. The ball bounces right in middle of trees making up and down “impossible”. Zac continuing to experience difficulty with short-game bumps his 3rd shot short of green. Mike gets on the green near back edge giving him about fifty-footer downhill. Mike makes good 2-putt par; Zac chip just misses for birdie. Mike holds 1- up lead.
The par-4 number fourteen both players step up their game. Down the middle drives, both hit to middle of green for chances to make birdie. Mike makes a two-putt par. Zac with a great opportunity to get match back to square, just can’t find the speed of the greens today leaving his put one-inch short for a birdie.
Coming to the challenge long par-3 #15 into the prevailing wind playing at 210 yards, Mike’s hybrid tee ball comes up just short. Zac over cooked his 3-iron natural drawing shot, just staying in play way left of the green. Zac hits his second shot long onto the right fringe which is above the cup; while Mike hits his chip just on the green near the left fringe which is under the cup. Zac with some short game demons hits his shot halfway to the cup. Mike makes a good putt, and then taps in for bogey. Zac just misses to make double-bogey. Mike goes to 2-up with three to play.
#16, Mike peers one down middle while Zac blows tee shot right. Zac finding his ball near edge of the tall grass does have an open shot to the green, but comes up short right. Mike with a sand wedge in up the hill also comes up just short of the green. Zac bunts ball just on the green for his 3rd while Mike pitches to gimme par. Zac needing the par putt to continue the match leaves in the middle of the cup short.
Mike wins 3 and 2.
I enjoyed playing along the big hitters (and Tommy Condella); wishing all others the best of luck with their matches.