We just finished helping everyone get their jaw off the ground here in Jacksonville, FL as we have born witness to the tightest battle on a single card all season. And yes, Chris Dickerson has again shot the hot round at 4 under par. And that means Dickerson is your champion. The crowd roared as he made his 15' par put on 18 to seal the deal. Were it not for a missing segment of railroad tie on hole 15, Nate Sexton might be your winner as he finished 3 under par, only 1 behind with his birdie on hole 18. Ricky Wysocki's run came to a close after his look at eagle vanished when he hit a tree on his second shot after an unreasonably good backhand roller off the tee. Tied with Rick at 2 under is Nikko Locastro who help the pressure on all day but just lost too much steam in the last 5 holes. And lest we forget the ever charging Kevin Jones, although he may have finished in 5th, 5 throws off the lead, he can basically chalk all of that up to hole 14. Let's get into the story though, because there's a lot more to say about this round than a bunch of numbers.
Let's start with some good clean fun, Hole 9, 1108', par 5. Dickerson smushed his drive a mile, tossed his approach another, and then this:
That might be dramatic to watch but it's nothing compared to the raw feeling of being here to see everything that came before and everything that came after. So instead of breaking this down player by player we're gonna break it down by six holes at a time. So let's rewind to this round starting with a 5 card star par. Hole 2, Ricky and Chris get left out of the birdie club and by hole 3 we had our first and only star frame of the day. The whole card put their drives in the circle and made their putts. Everyone showed up today ready to win some money. Hole 4, Nate gets left out of the star frame. With a you-better-do-yoga straddle out from a behind a tree. One hole later, Ricky collected his third birdie and his share of the lead while the rest of the card parred.
We were absolutely cruising, amidst the chaos of pedestrian traffic and the raucous horde of golf carts, the players took to the tee of hole 6 - the first of three par 5s and the longest of them, weighing in at 1167' of undulating OB lined beauty. Little did they know that the first wound in this wicked windy wrestle for the top spot. The good news was for Kevin who took the lone birdie and his turn at holding the lead. Nate Sexton was dealt the raw deal when his energizer bunny of a roller eventually came to rest out of bounds. That wasn't the worst of it though. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Sexton found the OB river before the green and would have to settle for 7 as the rest of the card cleaned pars. Including a Circle 3 putt from Ricky. Those Raptor legs were running!
On to seven we went. Not to spoil anything but it ended up the fourth hardest hole of the day. Not a single birdie and Dickerson and Jones missed the Mando. You could call it uneventful but that would be disrespectful to the 60' putt for birdie that Wysocki hit cage dead center, an inch from taking Kevin's lead for himself. Instead, we had a three-way tie between everyone but Nate who was in no way out of it. Chris Dickerson was one back at 2 under, and Nate Sexton was I guess technically in third at even. Don't get used to it though because hole 8 was a downright mess for everyone but Chris and Nate. And it started right from the beginning when Nikko, Ricky, and Kevin all went OB on the drive. Kevin and Ricky went OB again, Nikko missed a putt. Things felt ridiculous. Kevin's approach to the green landed on the OB river left and after some fraught deliberation amongst the card, he moved back to where he was last in. And made easy work of slamming his jump putt right into the heart of the chains.
At the end of it, Ricky took a seven, Nikko and Kevin took sixes. Dickerson and Nate gained a good handful of throws in one hole and suddenly Chris, Nikko, and Kevin were tied for the lead on the tee of hole 9. There was plenty of fury to unleash and boy did they. Easily the four farthest drives I've seen from any group. The approaches were varied, but only three folks earned birdies. Those belong to Chris, Ricky, and Kevin. If you weren't sick of seeing Kevin smash putts, here's another:
We sailed through hole ten and Kevin lost two to Nikko, who took 1 over the rest with his lone birdie on what has played as one of the easiest holes on the course this week. 11 jumbled things up too, but Kevin and Nikko were still on top, leaving Ricky in second. His bogey on 12 though dropped him back that much further as Nate, Nikko and Kevin got the birds. All along Mr. Dickerson just kept assembling his collection of pars, holding solid at one down. Then the damage showed up again and this time for Nate. A five on hole 13 knocked him back to even yet again. Nikko peeled away with his birdie to a sole possession of the lead and the lowest point the scores reached at five under. No one would ever go lower than that and Nikko wouldn't hold on to it for long.
Then 14 happened. For Chris, Nate, Ricky, and Nikko it was pretty good to fine. For Kevin, it was a catastrophe. Only Kevin and Nate got their drives through the fairway and out into the sun. Nikko took a nasty kick right, Chris was too inside, and Ricky drill a tree and of course flopped to the fairway. Nate and Kevin were in position, and then suddenly things went right, literally. Kevins first bid at his second shot came up just short of skipping in. His second drive had every ounce of fiery competitiveness in it that Jones could muster but it made it from the wall to the sand trap in the OB. That made a 9 for Kevin. Nate took the lone birdie.
Then it was time for more drama on the card at the island 15. The most important thing to know is that Nate Sexton was decidedly OB, but had there been a railroad tie in that one single spot it likely would have stopped his firebird right there. The provisional was played and played quite well. He smashed that putt, then walked over the drop and played what would end up being the final ruling Ã¢â¬â bogey for Sexton. And many will say that this bogey is the reason he lost. I was right there with them and Nate said himself, it was out, but was frustrated as to why there isn't a line or rope.
The tension settled down and then it was time for everyone to make their push. Kevin refused to be left out with an amazing bid for eagle on 17. Chris Dickerson decided to start birdieing again and hit both 16 and 17 from inside the circle. Not to be left out, Nate bounced back with two more birdies too. Nikko was just short of glory on both holes. 16 was a caged putt, and 17, well 17. Remember that tree Simon hit? Well, Nikko hit it too and just missed the putt for birdie from circle 2.
When the flurry was all said and done. Dickerson stepped up first on 18's tee pad with a one throw lead over Locastro. Dickerson's roller hit a tree early, I swear Nikko hit the same one with his, and then Ricky's ridiculous roller. You know when you watch someone throw a roller and it speeds up on the ground? It was one of those and boy did it take off finishing beyond the golf green on the right as the fairway bends. He needed it too because if he could eagle he could force a playoff if Chris or Nikko parred. From pretty much the same spot, Chris and Nikko threw their second shots from pretty much the same spot. Both opted for hero class rollers and finished about 6' apart just before the mando - advantage Chris because he was 6' closer. Nikko missed the mando and Chris made it but not much further. Nikko's approach found the bunker (not OB) and Chris's found the green. Nikko did slam that circle 2 putt but Chris was putting for par with the lead. In dead silence, Chris made the putt look routine. The man is a putting machine.
Well, there you have it, folks. Throughout the entire day, everyone touched the lead, but there was really only one man who was gonna walk away with what was practically a wire to wire victory. 10-10-13-4. Dickerson likely won't ever forget those numbers and without fail he had one last quip of disc golf wisdom to carry us through the winter.
"All you can do is play your best. And if someone beats you outright, that's what it is."
This time it was you who won it outright Chris. Congratulations sir. From 18th in the season to first in the finals, you played like a champion and after never winning a Pro Tour event he drove off tonight with the Championship Trophy. If you somehow read all of this without going to watch, just go do that now too. I know I'll be watching the whole round on loop for the entire winter.
Article written by Staff Editor & Writer Zach Podhorzer.
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