Some rounds of golf are amazing because of how great they are while others because of how humble they can make us. My round today was amazing because it contained both. Through 7 holes I was +1 after blowing two great opportunities on par fives. This course's challenge lies primarily in the undulating slopes that comprise every green and secondly, due to water hazards in play on 14 of the 18 holes. Hole 8 was one such hole and my tee shot went swimming, leading to a double bogie. I was +3 through 8 holes and felt the noose tighten.
Walking to the ninth tee, after seeking relief in profanity, my caddy said, "we're not even half finished the first round of a four day tournament." As obvious and repetitive as that comment can be by someone trying to comfort you during a humbling round, it unlocked a string of images that made me believe I was ready to handle this situation. So I went to work.
I picked away at the black numbers one moment at a time and birdied the ninth. Then I birdied the 470 yard par 4, 12th. I followed that with a tap in birdie on 13 and 15. The 17th has a KIA Sportage just off the tee, which is given in the event of a hole is one. I rifled a six iron at the flag 190 yards in the distance. A player from China in my group used the only English I heard him speak all day, he was enthousiastically saying, "go in!" The ball landed a few feet in front of the hole and led to another birdie. I capped off the round by making a downhill, 20 footer on 18 in front of the tv cameras, for one final birdie and a back nine of 31. In 10 holes, I had altered my future moving from +3 to -3; from prisoner, to executioner.
I go into round 2 in solo third place, three strokes away from the leader and will look to burn up the cold morning air at 7 am.