The pebble has been snatched from my hand- almost

I haven’t had too much time to play disc golf lately, with the exception of the tournaments mentioned in my previous blahg entry. Too busy with work, travel, and other stuff. But I found time today for a round with Assaf, and quite the interesting round it was. In the immortal words of basketball legend and noted sage Karl Malone, “The pebble has been snatched from my hand.” Well, sort of. Almost. Check it out:

We agreed to play a semi-speed round, and thought that the rainy weather would translate into a less-crowded course (it did). The course was wet, but the rain didn’t fall the entire time we played. Now Assaf has never beat or tied me, and he’s only come close a few times. But for some reason he plays better golf when he’s running from hole-to-hole (he recently played an entire 28-hole round in 40 minutes and shot a +2, which is only one more than his personal best, I think). I, on the other hand, am more likely to shoot my best when playing at a normal pace.

When Assaf got pars on each of his first six holes, hitting all his makeable putts, I knew I was in for a match. Then, on hole 7, my par putt hit the front rim and rolled WAY down the hill behind the hole. After my desperation upshot stayed in a tree still 35 feet short, I ‘saved’ a triple bogey 6 with a nice uphill putt. Suddenly I was three strokes back and Assaf was looking pretty solid and comfortable with the quick pace.

We both bogeyed 8a and birdied 9, but I also birdied 10 and 12 to tie the score (he also bogeyed 11). Historically, I’ve pulled away at this point, either due to me stepping it up, Assaf leaking oil, or both. But not today. Most people know that hole 13 at DeLa is know as I-5 , as in “What did you get on that hole, dude?” “I fived!” Well, today a five would been fine. In reality, my second shot rolled halfway down the slope to the left of the fairway, and my third shot – after hitting a tree in a fruitless attempt to get out of jail – rolled right past me and continued ALL the way down into a wet, slippery, deep crevice within the ravine. For my fourth shot, I had no choice except a 30-foot toss to get some kind of look, my 5th left me still far from the hole and in jail, and in the end I needed a good putt to ‘save’ and plus-four 7 on the hole. Assaf collected a routine 4 (basically par for hole 13), and I was right back to a three stroke deficit.

On holes 14 and 15 we posted back-to-back star frames, and then again on 18, and the thought did occur to me that I had just birded three holes out of four and not cut into his lead at all. For the most part, Assaf played really solid today. He didn’t miss any easy putts that I can remember (he usually does), didn’t have any disaster holes (his only double-bogey was due to a lost disc on hole 19), and just seemed to play up to his potential the whole round.

Going into hole 21, Assaf clung to a one-stroke lead but coughed it up with an errant drive. It was once again tied, and stayed that way until hole 24. Then he birdied and I bogeyed, and his lead was up to 2 strokes again. It didn’t occur to me until just now, but I hadn’t led in this round at all!

On hole 25 we both got par, and the same on 26. Still a two stroke lead for Assaf, with two to play. On 26a, I birdied, and Assaf’s putt did everything but go in. It hit top nubs and bottom nubs, and even a little chain, but no go. One stroke with one to play; Top of the World.

After my birdie on 26a, I had honors to throw first. My wimpily failed attempt to be aggressive with my lefty hyzer over the road for birdie resulted in a safe par look, Assaf’s drive turned over a little too much and flew past the tee for hole 1. Assuming he would still get a par, I went for the 100-foot birdie but still kept it close enough for a par myself. Assaf’s upshot snagged the oak to the right and in front of the basket, and his putt to win slid off the cage on the left side. A handful of onlookers near the bench (who know us) groaned because it was that close. We tied at +3

So Assaf didn’t quite snatch the pebble from my hand like Kung-Fu, but he did tie me for the first time. And if he keeps playing like he did today, it’s only a matter of time. I’ll stave him off for as long as I can, but when he finally does beat me, no one will be happier than me.

There is a joke there somewhere about pebbles and Rocs, but I’m done for now.

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