Six is uphill with lots of bunkers but not too “far to go before I green.” Dave Two is on but I catch a good one and thought I was also dancing (with putting being the best part of my game I thought I was in with a chance). No chance! I’m well over the back and even though I have with a good chip and putt we’re still all square. But now comes a tragic sequence. On seven I’m the only one in good shape having hit a great drive down the middle, pure. The others are ball searching or bunker busting but I’m one-thirty out and on a green line special. I should be dancing in net one when no one else gets a stroke. Sadly, it all goes horribly wrong. A slice into a greenside bunker, an air-mailed out shot and several putts later we’re still all square. But now Dave and Dave exert their pressure, the short par-3 eighth and I’m on the beach and Ed’s over the hills and far away. Dave and Dave take an easy hole. 1-up to them. We stumble our way on to the fearsome ninth. Well fearsome for me. True it is only a par 4, but what a par 4. Visually intimidating and for us hacker’s a total nightmare. Indeed, I have woken up screaming and dreaming of this hole. Don’t mock until you’ve tried it. I end up in the upper right-side fairway bunker and am actually glad to do so, but it gets worse from there and I’m left in the bamboo trees and bouncing all over the place. I actually get close to picking up and make an octopus, snowman or any other denying metaphor for a soul-destroying quadruple bogey. Dave and Dave cruise to a smiling two-up lead at the break.
Although I hit a solid drive on 10, I can feel a strong twinge in my right elbow. It hurts but somehow the hurt is making me play better! Go figure. I hit my approach to within eight feet and on this 400-yard par 4, life is a little rosier again. Of course I miss the putt for the real bird and a net two but its enough to win the hole and the match is back on again. Sadly, I’m not in it. Ed is fighting alone and I’m passengering along, holding my arm in ice and searching for painkillers. But Ed is doing well, halving eleven and keeping us in the game. And now comes 12. Probably the signature hole, this requires a well placed drive and a strong second over a lot of what Florida must have looked like to the early Spanish explorers. Ed is on fire and I am in the brush. Two great shots leave him dancing and defeat Dave and Dave to bring us back to all square, six to go, all to play for. It brings us to 13. For a par 3, this one hurts just to look at. All over water to a wide but thin green, even my playing partners are sucking in gut and loosening the muscles with ostentatious practice swings. And no wonder, it’s a 180-yard carry to a green that looks like it shucks golf balls like a fisherman shucks oysters. Its called Land ‘o Lake. And their not kidding. No one is wet, but only one is dancing. The good news is that’s me, the bad news is that I’m the wrong side of the green and am left with 80 feet of devilish greensward. Dave Two plays a great shot from the front bunker, he’s eight feet and with Ed out of the hole its all on me. The greens are fast but fair and despite some angling and rolling I get to six feet myself. But now Dave Two, drat him, makes the putt and I need to sink mine for the hole. I burn the edge but no more. With my stroke it’s a half, but again, one gets away from our team.