In yesterday’s article, we covered the 1st round of the International Golf Foundation’s Espirito Trophy event. It’s a big-time event, but I wrote about it primarily because of the participation of Ohio State’s Katja Pogacar.  Katja’s opening round of 78 (+6) led her team, Slovenia. So, how’d Katja, and others, do in the 2nd round?

Switching over to the Iberostar Playa Paraiso course, Katja essentially duplicated her first round performance. She backed up her opening score of 78 with another 78, to again lead Team Slovenia in scoring. Katja struggled a bit on the front 9, shooting a 41 (+5), but put the whip to her back 9 holes, shooting a 37 (+1). That’s a pretty decent turnaround.

Round 2

Katja’s front 9 score was marred by a double bogey on the 2nd hole (what is it with hole #2?), but did record 5 pars to perform triage on her morning.  Her back 9 was honestly a work of art; Katja parred the first eight holes on that side before dropping a stroke on her last hole. It was probably annoying to her, but it was still a well-played two hours of golf.

Speaking of “annoying”, her team-mate Nastja Banovec also shot a 41 (+5) on the front 9, even though she played eight of these holes in even par. The back breaker was a quintuple bogey 10 on the par-5, 5th hole. This came after birdieing the 4th hole so I guess you never know in golf. Nastja’s  front 9 showed the quintuple bogey (argh), 3 birdies, 3 bogeys and 2 pars. Quite an entertaining two hours of golf, although I’d imagine that Nastja would describe it differently..

Team Slovenia shot a 162 (+18) which dropped them from 28th place to 45th. Katja was +6 and Nastja was +12.

As I mentioned in the 1st round recap, with a format of “best 2 of 3” there is very little wiggle room for an errant round of golf. Katja was fairly solid again, and her team mate Nastja played very good golf for 15 holes. As mentioned above, she was +12, with 9 of those strokes coming on three holes. And really, that’s a shame; 30-35 minutes of golf unglues a full round.

In other news, team USA shot a 145 (+1) to finish +3 after two rounds. They were tied for 7th place with Austria. Team Bulgaria ended their 2nd round tied for 51st place. Their team score of 172 (+28) was a 2 stroke improvement over their 1st round. Baby steps…

Um, coaching is really important

This round, to me, really highlights the tight wire act of team golf. Even though you’d think there would be a bit more leeway, and there is, in playing a format of “play 5, count 4” vs “play 3, count 2” with more players on the course, a team is exposed to more than one player going off the tracks. The NCAA format (play 5 count 4), I think, really puts stress (as in pressure) on a team’s coaching staff. Let me explain…

During a tournament, the players can’t be “coached up” with technique. They play that round with the game they brought with them to the course that day. The coach’s value is in the mental aspect of the game; yes, a player may be struggling, but how do you keep her focused and engaged to perform to (even close to) her abilities? Once a round is underway, a golf coach becomes counselor/psychologist. Once you see a player is struggling, this is where a coach has the “walk with me” moment in an attempt to get a player settled and back into the right frame of mind.

In the typical NCAA event of 5 golfers, they can be spread out over a mile, or more, of the course.  The pre-round plan of the coaches (who will be ‘where’, when’) is a good start, but obviously needs to be adjusted on the fly if a particular player is struggling. If more than one player is struggling, it gets more complicated. Best-case scenario for a coach is that a round is a walk in the park, a good walk not spoiled. Worst case is probably akin to the Dutch boy sticking various digits into the dike. Somewhere in between can be a good bit of fire-fighting for four hours.

Not picking on Katja’s team mate Nastja, but I’ve had a couple rounds similar to hers; making a quintuple bogey along with a birdie (or two). During the quintuple hole, at some point I deluded myself into thinking that I wasn’t really playing my 6th stroke, I was playing my 2nd stroke, and let’s see how well I can do! The alternative would be fairly ugly. That’s probably not a bad coping strategy, but it works a lot better if you have a coach to lean on during the experience.

OK, round 2 is in the books for the Espirito Trophy. Tomorrow we’ll gt into round 3. Hopefully see you then!