Most of my friends managed to escape a catastrophe. They all broke 80, which is well in the ball game. There were two 87s out there today, and I'm surprised there wasn't a 90.
Tuesday, Oct. 31
All of my fears came true today. In beautiful weather, just a gorgeous day for golf, I shot a stupid 76, and now I'm in real trouble. I talked about how I wanted to feel fear this week. Today fear was handing me the clubs. I didn't hit the ball too badly, but I putted like a moron. There were seven holes on which I gave away shots with bad chips or bad putts. Just stupid. I found it so hard to think positively when I got a couple over par. The pressure enveloped me. I tensed up because I knew that I couldn't afford to make any mistakes. I knew it was going to be like this and I tried to prepare myself, but I'm really down. I can't wait another year for something I've been thinking about and dreaming about all of my life. I know I'm ready. The pressure is tremendous. I feel as if all of my work and preparation for years will mean nothing if I fail to get my card this week. I've been having some absurd immature thoughts. Like I wish we could start all over.
I felt today as if I was flinching on my putts, which would indicate how nervous I am or that I'm out of position at address so that I have to do something unnatural to hit the ball on line. Now I'm tied for 31st place, and as bad as the scores are I don't think the PGA will give out 15 cards. Thirty-three guys shot 74 or better today. Regalado had a 72 to keep the lead and Tommy Evans had a 68 for the low round. It was just a perfect day, and instead of picking up ground, I lost it!
But maybe I shouldn't feel so bad. Eddie Pearce had his second straight 79 today, and now he really has to go. I understand that he is putting even more poorly than I am, but I don't believe it. Tom Kite came back with a 73 today, and Denny Satyshur kept our room from being a complete tragedy by also shooting a 73. The three of us went to the movies tonight and saw Skyjacked, and I could really sympathize with that pilot flying that plane and waiting for the bomb to go off. That is just about how I feel right now. If the Ford Motor Company hears about this, they're liable to recall one of their Young Thunderbirds.
Wednesday, Nov. 1
My dad isn't here this week. I can honestly say that he lives to see me play tournament golf, but for this week I asked him not to come because I wanted solitude. He understood. I talked to him on the phone last night and he cheered me up. He told me he knows I can play under pressure, and today I did a lot better. I had a 70 that could have been still lower, but I'll take it. The weather was beautiful. If anything, that increased the pressure because I knew I would have to shoot a good score. I was one under par through four holes, but a sloping fairway on the fifth got me, and I bogeyed to fall back to even. Then on the sixth hole I rammed a 10-foot birdie putt about five feet past the cup. The silence as the players, caddies and a couple of spectators watched let me know what they were thinking. If I bogeyed here I would feel just like the captain of the Titanic when he hit the iceberg. I made the putt, then made tough pars on the next two holes and birdied the ninth. I was on my way. I hit most of the greens, kept the ball in play and lagged my long putts well, but I was still flinching on some short ones. Occasionally I flinched the right way.
The greens were soft and the pins set in easy spots, and the scores were low. Stubby had a 65, a remarkable round, and took the lead. Eddie Pearce played another poor round. He shot a 74. He needed something under par to get him going and his chances are getting bleaker. Tom Kite had a 75 and now is three strokes back of me. I'm at 222 and tied for 10th place, and feeling a lot better. I also feel pretty good about the number of spots they are giving out. The PGA announced tonight that there will be TPD player cards for the low 22 and ties. Letting in the ties is a humane thing to do. They used to have a sudden-death playoff for the last spot, and one guy here this week, Terry Small, lost out in playoffs in 1969 and 1970. He missed the school last year, too, and is not doing very well this week.
Someone said an interesting thing before I teed off today. I was talking to a guy on the practice putting green who is not having much luck, but he didn't seem to mind. He commented that most of us here have goals, like winning the U.S. Open or the Masters or something like that. "Well," he said, "my goal always was to marry a rich girl—and there she is, standing right over there." No wonder he's relaxed.
Thursday, Nov. 2