Marathon misery in Malaysia


Ok so the title may sound a little melodramatic but it kind of sums up how I felt wearily trudging off the golf course some 12 hours after the hooter had sounded to restart play early yesterday morning. A 5am alarm call saw me on the range well before dawn hitting golf balls into the dark to get ready for the resumption of round 1. As play had been suspended just before I had been able to complete my 9th hole I had to return to the green at 7.40am to finish off. The knee knocking 3 footer safely negotiated it was onto the 10th tee to try and pick up some shots.

One of my playing partners was a local teaching professional, Madi has worked at Clearwater for 11 years so as we walked from the 10th tee his warning of “if you can’t see the mountains it’s going to rain” seemed ominous. Sure enough, before I had chance to attempt my birdie putt on our first hole of the day the heavens opened. It’s actually quite rare for it to rain that often in the mornings here in Malaysia, far more often the heat of the day gives way to thunder storms mid to late afternoon as it had done the previous few days.

Despite the rain I had some good chances to pick up shots on 10, 11 and 13. The cool, damp weather seemed to be keeping the temperature of my putter stone cold as it had been throughout the previous days play. Then on the 14th tee I was stood over my ball just about to swing when an elderly spectators mobile phone rang loudly. I shot him a look, backed off and restarted my routine from scratch but unfortunately my focus wasn’t what it should have been and the resulting pulled tee shot into the water cost me dear. I was far angrier with myself than with the old fool with the phone. The double bogey meant I was now +5 for the day and fast running out of holes to pull any shots back. We got as far as the next green before the sky literally turned black and the rumbles of thunder drew ever closer.

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I managed to get a tee shot away into the heart of the 16th fairway before the rain came down with enough force to flood the entire golf course within minutes! The siren blew again and it was off to the clubhouse to sit around and wait for the weather to pass over once again. 2 and a half hours dragged slowly with only regular visits to the buffet keeping Steve and I occupied. Breakfast and lunch was rolled into one continuous sitting before the playing cards were cracked out for a game of BS with a few American players. The game was cut short with news that play would restart at 1.15pm. A quick warm up on the range in the still pouring rain before we were buggied back out to the 16th.

The golf course was amazingly playable despite the sheer volume of water that had fallen during the break. More missed birdie putts on 16 and 17 meant that over shooting the green on the par 5 18th could be my best chance yet. Sure enough my downhill chip from the fringe broke perfectly into the hole for a much needed closing bird. 76 wasn’t the start I was looking for but I felt like my play was easily good enough to go lower in the second round. After signing our scorecards 22 hours after starting round 1, round 2 started almost straight away. Back to the 10th tee to play the same stretch of holes again.

A perfectly struck 7 iron to 4 feet gave me exactly the start I was looking for. Alas, the birdie was cancelled out straight away with a 3 putt bogey on the next. It was around this part of the round I began leaving birdie chances annoyingly short of the hole. 3 successive chances died in the jaws of the hole before a terrible tee shot on the seemingly simple par 4 15th saw me chalk up my second disastrous double bogey of the day. I was pleased to bounce back with a fantastic approach kept under the branches of an overhanging tree to 6 feet on the tricky 16th to set up my second birdie of the day. Onto the front 9 where yet more birdie chances died short of the hole before I struck an arrow straight 6 iron to within 3 feet of the cup on the short 3rd hole. As both daylight and energy levels started to fade I dropped a shot on 6th hole before pulling another tee shot into trouble on the difficult uphill 8th. A penalty drop, chip out sideways, poor approach, sloppy chip and seemingly predictable missed putt all added up to a card wrecking treble bogey 7. 77 blows for round two.

I had played 27 holes on Friday. 24 of them in -1 without holing a single putt from outside of 8 feet. The 3 holes I played badly combined with my slow start on day 1 saw me comfortably miss the half way cut which fell at +2. This seems to be a recurring theme to my blog posts but I genuinely feel like I played much better golf than my scores reflected this week. I remember as a young pro, skinny as a rake, often walking off a course feeling like I had almost stolen a few shots off my score through excellent short game recovery and numerous long putts held. My last few outings have seen the exact opposite, I feel I could have scored much, much better if only a few putts had dropped at the right time.

It was a tough wet week over a challenging golf course where most of my play was definately good enough, at times excellent. 3 bad tee shots combined with a very mediocre putting week means I will be twiddling my thumbs a couple of days longer waiting to see if I get into next weeks event at Impian Golf Resort here in Kuala Lumpur. The course is just down the road from our home in Putrajaya so it would be great to get a start in this event co-sanctioned with the PGM Tour. Unfortunately, the PGM Tour is open only to Malaysian golfers so I will be checking the entry list regularly to see if I climb up the reserve list from my current 15th place.

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Sorry for the War & Peace like blog entry today, I said at the start I would keep willing readers informed with all the behind the scenes stories. With a bit of hard work on the putting green and a bit more mileage on my new swing changes hopefully the next report will be a happier one! 🙂

Nick

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