TEED OFF
By Robert Bicknell
 

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September 2, 2007

The Bogey my friend is blowing in the windÖ

As another Gannon Vietnam Open Championship bites the dust, with the usual results for yours truly, I am forced to take a moment to ponder why bad things happen to good people...

Ok, enough pondering, the answer is simple. Bad things happen to good people because that is the nature of the universe and life sucks then you die. Simple concept.

On the other hand, most of us ask for trouble by failing to prepare for a task properly. In my case, I did not expect to play well in Phan Thiet because Iíve played a grand total of once in four months and practiced not at all. As I stated, I went down to have a good time, touch base with some old friends, do a little PR for my club and support the oldest golf tournament in Vietnam.

Towards that end, I succeeded. The problem lies in the fact that despite not expecting to play well, the little guy who sits on my shoulder and whispers stupid things into my ear from time to time, kept telling me differently. He kept telling me I should win.

Yes, as you might expect with anything involving me, this little guy has brain damage.

All professionals want to play well, even if we suffered a double leg amputation. Thereís that little ball of fire that still glows within us...even if the dying embers need to be stirred from time to time to ignite a roaring blaze, we still compete.

Phan Thiet is a good course, but not a killer like, Chi Linh Star. Granted, there is a major difference from the blue tees and the black tees, it still isnít truly murderous, so its hard to understand why I always play poorly there. The greens are excellent, the shots hold and get backspin, the fairways are wide and generous, so why do I choke like a dog each and every time?

The answer my friends is blowing in the wind.

Yep...wind, soft fairways and, most importantly, the courseís ability to lull you into a false sense of security. It looks easy, so you constantly get caught napping. This course invites you to try something truly stupid and, of course, I am the perfect man for that.

If you need someone stupid enough to try hitting a four-wood from 210 yards, over water for 95% of the way, from a gnarly patch on a side-hill lie...Iím your man. Yes, its obvious that the smart play would be to bunt the ball down the fairway and set up an easy wedge to the green...but noooooo, not for me.

I am only truly happy when I am trying something outrageously stupid.

One of the understated things about Ocean Dunes is the frequent "risk vs reward" factor on many of the holes. Nick Faldo designed it and the tract reflects his playing characteristics...you have to be patient and know when to make a move and when not to try it.

As most of you know, each course has its share of "birdie holes" and holes where par is a good score. Ocean Dunes has these as well, but the wind can turn a birdie hole into a battle for survival. On days like that you have to remember the most important thing about playing tournament golf: "donít put up a big number".

I totally ignored that rule and found myself looking at double bogey far more often than Iíd like, yet overall, I had a great time as usual, despite the scores...

And thatís the most important thing.

Swing For Life, Vietnamís most successful single-day golf tournament, is set to kick off on Saturday at VGCC and I am looking forward to it once again.

My yearly pilgrimage to the south is never complete without a visit to VGCC and the opportunity to say hello to all my former staff, and to yank Blairís chain about the conditions of the course. Thankfully, he enjoys a good joke.

This year, Lars Holden and Jeff Puchalski will be joining in on the fun, so I anticipate a really enjoyable day out there. As Iíve said many times before, itís impossible to play with Lars and not have a good time.

Iíll let you know how much money was raised next week.


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