Min Woo Lee
‘Weird situation’: Playing golf on the bubble
Players will tell you they don’t see the scoreboards scattered throughout the course; a bout of selective blindness that enables them to stay in ‘the process’.
After the top 66 players qualified for the third round of the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth on Saturday the numbers game went up a notch.
The top eight avoid the indignity of being knocked out in the first round of thhe match play courtsey of a first-up bye.
The top 24 – whittled down from a playoff between 11 players for the final 10 spots – earn a place in the match play bracket drawn at random following Saturday’s play.
It’s a lot to keep track of as you manipulate your golf ball around Lake Karrinyup Country Club in a gusting south-westerly wind the locals referred to as ‘timid’, so most players don’t even try.
It was a good thing for Candian Austing Connelly that he paid the scoreboards no mind because for the majority of his third round they were giving off false hope.
The all-Commonwealth group of Connelly, Englishman Tom Murray and Kiwi Gareth Paddison made the turn each at 5-under par having started the day at 3-under.
The fluid cut-line hovered around the 6-under mark all afternoon and when he made a fantastic up-and-down from the front of the 18th green the score on the board and online declared that Connelly was inside the number.
Only he wasn’t, and thankfully for all Concerned, he at least knew it.
His tee shot at the downhill par-3 12th had travelled long and left, his chip reaching the fringe before he two-putted for bogey.
The scorer recorded a par; Connelly knew he had taken one shot more.
It wasn’t until he completed his round that the score was adjusted and in the stroke of a pencil ‘likely’ quickly became not so.
“It would surprise me if 5 (under) wasn’t in a playoff. Those last three holes are no cake-walk,” said Connelly, who only earned a start in the tournament following the late withdrawl of Andrew ‘Beeef’ Johnston. Alas, 5-under was one shot too many.
Murray also flited with the cut-line throughout his back nine.
A birdie at 12 moved him from a tie for22nd into a tie for 12th but a double-bogey 6 at the following hole saw him plummet to a tie for 30th.
A birdie at the driveable par-4 14th moved Murray up to a tie for 24th and another at the par-5 15th saw him join nine other players in a tie for 16th.
Pars at 16 and 17 followed and when he saved par from the back of the 18th green he looked to have secured safe passage into the match play.
“I didn’t really know what the number would be to get in the match play so the mindset to start the day was 3-under par because I knew it was going to get windy,” said Murray, who ultimately fell out of the 24 in a playoff with Wade Ormsby after the pair made matching bogeys the first trip down 18.
“It’s a good buzz around the place today. Obviously way more people around.
“You’re obviously try to get as low as you can to get in the top-8 to get through, top-24 get through, so there’s a few things going on.”
Paddison was the first of his group to reach 6-under thanks to a birdie from the bunker at 11 and when he added two more at 15 and 16 he finished the third round tied for fifth and a match play date almost two decades in the making.
“I’ve been pro 18 years now, so it’s been a long time,” Paddison said of his most recent match play experience.
“It’s going to be a completely different mindset really. It will be interesting to see what happens.”
It took a monster birdie putt at the 18th hole and a par in the playoff for Scotland’s Connor Syme to move into the match play section of the tournament, the 2016 Australian Amateur champion reflecting on a Saturday unlike any other in world golf.
“It was kind of up in the air there whether 5 or 6-under was going to make it,” said Syme.
“It was a good putt at 17 to stay at 5 and then coming up the last I knew I had to make that long putt.
“It was a weird situation because you’re thinking 4 might be good enough but then you push for the 3 and you can end up going in that bunker and making 5.
“I played the sensible shot and then it was a bonus to make the long one to finish.”
But there was one golfer who admitted to the cardinal sin.
Sitting pretty at 8-under after making birdie at the first, Scottish second-year professional Robert MacIntyre got swept up in the moment and it very nearly cost him, a 1-over 73 rescued by a birdie at the playoff hole.
“It’s a great way to make it through and now anyone can win it,” said MacIntyre, who has an impressive match play pedigree having won the 2015 Scottish Amateur and finished runner-up at the 2016 British Amateur.
“I think I monitored the scoreboard too much; I should have just played my game. There was a leaderboard at the back left of 14 and I saw that it was 6 (under). I missed a short putt on 17 and then caught a gust on 18 but if I wasn’t looking at the leaderboard I should have just cruised through.
“That’s golf and the nerves coming into the game.”
Perhaps it’s best not to look after all.