Wednesday morning 11am, the uber was booked and suitcase and putter ready to go, this was the start of my 27 hour journey to the other side of the world. I really wasn’t looking for to the longest commercial flight between Auckland and Doha, and being one that does not sleep well on planes this was going to be a nightmare. I found they had all 8 fast and the furious movies in the entertainment system and decided that I would work my way through them all. By the time I landed in Doha I’d had 5 hours sleep and watched 7 and a half movies of Vin Diesel mumbling away. The next leg to Zagreb was a 5 hour flight which after 17 hours seemed like a short bus ride. Once on the ground in Croatia I still had a 3 hour drive ahead of me.
I made it to Croatia, my suitcase made it, however my putter missed the connection in Doha. My plans for hitting the course once in Zaton were now in the air, but thanks to Jon Drexler the USA team coach who had a spare putter on had that was similar to my own I was able to get started. The course was a good challenge with weight and touch on the slopes being the key. I teamed up with David Maiolo from Australia and worked on the plan of attack. Lucky for me my putter arrived around 5.30pm and I could back in my zone with familiar equipment. The first day finished with dinner in the buffet hall, 120 kune or around 20 NZD was of course all you could eat and the bonus all you can drink beer.
Friday we were woke up by a massive thunder storm, which was a baby storm for what was to come later, but it cleared and we had beautiful weather all day. friday was a day of logging rounds and refining lines. The best I could do during that day was a 30, but still dropped shots with silly mistakes.
Saturday was the first offical practice day which was nice to have a little space on the course as the other days the public at the resort were still playing, having them and 90+ competitors sharing 18 holes was a mission. Saturday was again just logging rounds getting in rhythm of playing the multiple rounds. That night was the opening ceremony, which was the a first for me to be part of something like this. the teams parade took us through the main shops and restaurant area of the resort and along the beach front as the sun set over the water.
Sunday dawned overcast and windy, the locals said rain was on its way, so we pushed through with the same as Saturday, refining the game plan and playing rounds. The threat of rain eventually arrived around 4pm and the final practice was cut short. Little did we know just how much rain was coming.
Game day, thunder was rolling through the clouds and the heavens opened, and they stayed open for the next 8 hours or so, a few of us were at breakfast in the buffet hall and were marooned in there, the roof started leaking, the lane in front started flooding. The start time kept being pushed back and back. I went for a walk to the course with the umbrella I had just picked up, and the what I found was ankle deep water on 4 or five holes and standing water on greens and the bunkers. The locals told us this was the worst rain they have had in 30 years in this volume in such a short time. Zadar down the road from Zaton flooded and under ground parking buildings filled with water. There looked like there was no chance to get the course ready to start. We had a captains meeting at 6pm with Pasi, the rain had stopped and we set a start time of 6.30, the team working to get the course water free and playable did an amazing job. hole 12 that we thought would need to be skipped due to the volume of water was now good to go.
I got off to a solid start with a 34 in the fading light. With the course having lights we had a cut off time of 10pm, a few of the early groups out had to start their second rounds. We were one of them and got through 11 holes before play was stopped. I was 2 over for the round at that point and needed a quick start in the morning. The round was saved with a couple of aces first thing in the morning coming in with a 35. We were to play 3 more rounds that day for a total of 5. My third round was a solid 32, this would be my best for tournament. Going into round 4 I was sitting in around 12th in the mens general classification, a couple of solid rounds would hopefully keep me there. Sadly I would start both rounds with a 4 on the first and spend the rest of the round chasing the aces to get something reasonable on the board. Round four I couldn’t manage that and carded a 37, round 5 I clawed back into it and had a chance on the last with an ace for a 34. I pulled the first shot, then pushed the second and finished with a 3 and a 36. Final position in the mens was 21st just on mid pack, and over all was just on mid table. Though I feel I could have finished better and higher up, I’m happy with my first international tournament.
it was a great event to be a part of, I had a great playing group for the 5 rounds, David Maiolo from Australia and Artur Lopes of Portugal. I’ve met a lot of awesome people made new friends and had a great experience. Now on to the General Class world champs and a new quick fire learning of the Felt and Eternit course type, this will be another fun challenge
To be continued….