It’s a great time of year as I set my alarm for 4 a.m. No. Not to do anything important. The British Open is LIVE in the early morn. There is something about watching golf before the sun. Links golf is a different animal. Mother Nature plays a huge part. Beware of the wind. Perhaps some rain. The boys will struggle in the long grass and the deep bunkers protecting the greens. The Open is the year’s final major. Goosebumps.
There is another local golf outing that has a similar prestige. Several of the top locals are in town for the 93rd Williamsport Invitational this week. The premier better ball of partners match play tournament is currently underway. Oh, the memories.
I was on the bag in high school for two of WJ Choate and Joe Reynold’s many crowns. True story. I was a great caddy who found many errant tee balls. I remember getting smoked by these guys a few years later in the first round. Tip the cap to your elders, kids.
I played in this great event the next ten times. My partners varied, and so did our results. Eric Loudenslager and I incredibly made it to the semifinals once. We peaked that summer, and I haven’t been a major contender ever since.
I personally haven’t played in a few years. No worries. My bay window has since closed. I cannot compete with the youngsters, and I am no longer that guy. I miss my friends and the camaraderie, but I do not miss the whiskey shakes and those short downhill pressure putts. Maybe I will return someday. Who knows. I still get an invite each spring, and it makes me feel cool. I don’t know why WCC continues to send me a bill. I910 is no longer valid, and I have no clue what a vodka transfusion is. I drink New Trails.
My deadline is on Friday, so we do not know who will win the 2023 Title. I hope to sneak over to the finals on Sunday afternoon. It all depends on who is still standing. The qualifying scores were rather impressive, and I recognize many of the names on the leaderboard.
Peyton Mussina and Grant Gronka carded a ten under par 61 to earn the top seed and medalist honors. The two youngsters played well and are both battle-tested. Peyton and I are buds, and his game is off the charts. The left-handed sniper from Montoursville throws darts. When did he learn how to putt? Gronka is from Bloomsburg, and he is a recent Huntington College grad. They played in and out, and that is what you need for this type of format.
“Grant and I have very similar games,” Peyton explained. “He made a few clutch birdies on the front, and he got the momentum moving. We were playing well, but we both knew we had to make something happen when we crossed the road.”
Mussina then went on a tear. Making an eagle on 16 and again on 18. Incredible. Doing it on back-to-back par fives in the same round is ridiculous. Then, throw in the environment and circumstances. No way. I quit.
“I hit a great drive on 16, leaving me 200 yards,” Mussina continued. “I had a 40-footer for eagle and hit a great putt. You don’t expect to make it, but I had a great read. Dead center. We both made par on 17. And we were in good shape on 18. I drove it in the left rough, about 175 yards out. I hit a decent 9-iron that fell off the slope, leaving me a chip. I looked at my partner and told him I had that same shot a few weeks back. I hit a great chip with perfect pace, centered up with the flagstick and dropped.”
Best wishes to my friends who are playing in this week’s local major. Nothing but love for the WCC Invitational. Maybe next year, I will earn a seat at the table. Cheers.