All week, Shane Bacon will be at the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore., writing about his experience on the bag for the LPGA's Irene Cho. Stop by each day to read about the happenings from the day's round.
Anytime a golfer plays a poor first round, they immediately turn their focus to the second round, and that pesky cut number. It happens at every professional event on all tour, men or women, because it gives the player something they lacked after those first 18 holes; hope.
On Friday, after Irene Cho and myself had left the golf course after a three-over 75, we chatted about the next day. We tried to get fired up. We tried to suggest a number to post. It was all about Saturday.
And as the morning players were going about their second rounds, it appeared that low numbers were available. Song-Hee Kim and Ji Young Oh had both put together early 64s at the Safeway Classic, and on the way to the course, we were dreaming about having our own beautiful second round posted next to her name like presents under a Christmas tree.
After 18 magnificent holes, we were in at four-under 68, and had jumped past a ton of golfers that couldn't find their game like Irene.
It was a thing of beauty, actually. Starting off on the par-5 10th hole, Irene hit a great drive setting up just a hybrid second shot to a reachable green. She left it right in the greenside bunker, and her birdie putt ran right across the lip. "Not again," my stomach grumbled, but this day seemed different than the last. It would change on the 11th, when Irene hit her tee shot just on the fringe, and coolly rolled that in for a birdie. We'd snag another birdie on 12, and then two more on 15 and 16.
The only square on our first nine, a bogey on the 17th, was caused more because what we had seen the last two days by playing partners going over the green on the short par-4 than an errant shot. Long was dead, and it would be the second day in a row we'd watch someone do just that. How'd she respond to the bump in the road? With a 302-yard drive on 18. Yeah, she was pumped.
The final nine was more of a struggle, but the fun continued on the par-5 8th, when Irene hit a shot just short of the Postage Stamp-sized green, and rolled that in for an eagle, forcing me to give my first ever fist-pump on the golf course. She smiled. I smiled. It was a happy day. For some reason, eagles do that to people.
Sunday will be another battle with the golfing gods. Irene admitted to me on the drive home that, even like us mortal golfers, she was thinking about the number she could post after that fourth birdie dropped in her opening eight holes. While it seems that professionals are able to block that stuff out, it's true that everyone knows when a good round is unfolding, and that isn't always a bad thing.
So, I'm three-for-three in made cuts as a LPGA caddie, but the goal this week isn't just to make a check for the player. We're going out for blood on Sunday. Stay tuned to see what number we could dig up.