We played match play and Levi asked for five strokes. I was quite happy to oblige, since our match the day before, having given him four, ended on the twelfth hole. It was a rout. And, let's face it, no one enjoys a match that isn't close. Unfortunately, I again started out winning the first three holes and thought, "Here we go again."
Fortunately, Levi rallied and I ended up just one up after ten. But on number ten two things happened that turned things around. First, my back went from just hurting, to spasming. And secondly, I showed Levi what I was doing to play while half crippled. I was taking the club back to only about waist high, like Moe Norman. Then I was finishing my swing in the follow-through at between knee and waist high. Essentially, I was hitting straight down the target line until both arms were fully extended through the ball and then just stopping.
The fact that I had just birdied nine, hitting it to less than a foot from 170 yards, seemed to pique Levi's interest. So, he tried fully extending down the target line until his arms were fully extended and just allowing momentum to take him to the finish instead of consciously turning his shoulders through impact and coming over the top and across the ball as he had been doing. The change was dramatic. He started driving it much straighter. He was hitting better irons into the greens. If it wasn't for some les-than-stellar chipping and putting on his part, I'd have been up Schitz Creek.
At the thirteenth, Levi almost holed out for an ace and went one up. We were having a match, and the knot had definitely gone out of Levi's face. He was smelling blood. Unfortunately for Levi, however, he skulled a chip on fifteen to lose the hole and get us back to all square. Then he drove it behind some trees on the left of seventeen after I had first driven it right and had tree troubles of my own.
Levi tried to hit it through the trees directly at the green and failed, leaving himself a fifty yard pitch to the green. Trees are not, contrary to some people's opinion, ninety percent air. I, on the other hand, had been faced with a shot of just over 200 yards which required about a thirty yard cut to narrowly miss a thick cedar tree of my own. I was at the base of another tree and made a swing something like young Sergio did when he was chasing down Tiger at that Major way back when. I even walked through the swing like he did; but I didn't close my eyes and I certainly wasn't doing any running or jumping to follow the shot like El Nino.
I couldn't see the shot finish, but knew I'd cut it enough to get around the tree and have it heading towards the green. As it turned out, I ended up about ten yards short and right of the green. I'd managed to over-cut it, which impressed me because the ball had been above my feet in what was a hook lie. Levi, who was across the fairway when I hit the shot, seemed to be not nearly as thrilled as I was. But I guess he had other things on his mind--like getting his shot through the trees and finally managing to beat my sorry ass.
In any event, I managed to get it up and down for a par and Levi didn't; giving me a one up lead with one to play. Levi was not a happy camper. We both left our approaches short of the green on the par three eighteenth and Levi chipped his to about six feet. I managed to pitch mine to about three feet and Levi conceded the match.
Now there are two morals to this rather long and drawn-out story in my mind. Well, perhaps there are three things worth considering. Firstly, there is nothing more fun that hitting a good recovery shot at the right time; especially in match play. Secondly, good chipping and pitching drives your opponent crazy in match play. And finally, as Sam Snead said, "You should never concede the putt that beats you."
Levi just waved at his six footer on eighteen, after conceding the match. Had he holed that six footer, I might have easily missed my three footer. The result might have just as easily been a halved match. You should never give up in this game. As a wise man once said,"It ain't over 'til it's over."