If you’ve read the first lines of Jean-Luc Burnier diary (available in our library), you’ve got an idea of the daily life of a young touring pro on the move. After a week spent in Beijing, he’s now in Baishan near by the North Korea border.
No time to breathe. Just a plate of noodles and some dumplings for twenty yuans at a small joint around the corner and I was quickly in my bed to get some rest before waking up at 4:00am to catch a flight to Baishan some 120 miles from North Korea. It’s a rather cold mountain resort with a bunch of hotels, few ski slopes and two golf courses. We are to play at the Jillin White Birch Club. It’s a Jack Nicklaus design totally surrounded by an army of high trees.
Here too, the good deal was to share a double room with another guy, this time selecting the official hotel. But without a granted spot, he had to go through the Tuesday qualifier. Unfortunately for both of us, he didn’t make it, which left me with another full rate room for the rest of the week…
On June 24th noon, the course wasn’t that busy. So I had the opportunity to tour all 18 holes and give all of my attention to practice my short game. Back at the venue on the following day, the 1st tee box packed with forty early birds looking forward to being part of the first flight on. A caddy master came over and collected the names of the Chinese players to draw a starting list, leaving the foreigners aside with no idea of the happening. So I decided to join a Chinese threesome by myself, otherwise I would still be there. This round was followed by testing my short game at the practice, then spending the rest of the day on the range, since the good range Titleist balls were now available. It was a very good working day topped by a fitness session to stay in shape, later sleeping very well.
On Wednesday, I woke up quite early in order to get a training session in the morning and take it easy in the afternoon. On my program: two hours on the putting green, one around it, another one on the range to work on trajectories. I like to practice during tournament, others train more before. It’s my way to collect some extra confidence. It works for me, but each player has his own to call the best of his skills once on the course.
Thursday, 08:00am on tee #10. I found myself playing a solid score, keeping my ball on the fairways, avoiding a heavy rough and all these tall trees. I was more occupied searching my Chinese partners’. My 71 (-1) was the result of a solid game leading to the 18th position, nothing to compare with my next day awful adventure. How can I explain it? Imagine that I have a little devil on my left ear saying “This is your 5th appearance in several months on the CGT and your 5th opportunity to make the cut. Are you sure you can do it?” Go away little devil, let me fully concentrate.
One under after six holes (with a double and an eagle) before scoring 39 on the front and 37 on the back. What a day, but cut made. You could then find me hitting balls during two full hours on the range, working my basics and my drills in order to gain some confidence again and get things going for the next day. It worked out well. I really nicely played the 3rd round. The 70 on my card got me to a better position on the leaderboard, but not as good as expected. Most of the guys performed better, the course softened by a rainy storm the night before.
Playing well again on the last round, I was two under at the turn helped by a healthier driver for two birdies on #6 and 9 (par 5). Too happy too quick? The back nine was another story, missing the greens on 10 and 11 but saving two pars. Bad luck on #12, bad swing on the next, ball lost on the #14 and 42 for the back nine. 42… Again it’s a little devil matter. “JeanLuc, there’s a big check waiting for you…” What a shame! Although the Chinese Golf Tour is a 2nd ranked circuit (like the European Challenge Tour), the fellow competitors are highly skilled. One can’t count on them the ease the way up with stupid and costly mistakes.
Back home, I know that my two Chinese weeks were good at the end of the day, giving me some leads for my next training hours. It’s quite exciting to know now that I can enjoy a top 15 finish on any occasion. It’s my next goal even though any coach would say that I’m not supposed to think of the outcome of a tournament but only stay mentally focused on the process driving to better and more consistent results. My next tournament is scheduled for July 19th on the Gambito Tour in Italy. JLB/pph