This is why we watch disc golf. This is why we chose this format for our finals. To see the best disc golfers in the world taking risks to secure their spot in the semi-final. Of the 16 players on the course today only 8 of them get to move forward to take on the top of the field who earned their byes to Saturday. If there is anyone from Day 1 trying to make sure we know he has a chance to go all the way it's the robotic precision of Chris Dickerson. A big round of applause for Dickerson putting together two 10 under par rounds in a row. JohnE McCray, the ageless wonder was no slump either, matching Dickerson's ten down. Many names you expect to see at the top are but plenty of 'em didn't find their rhythm today. With each round's score resetting, you need to play a great round. That's a pretty different beast to take on than a great weekend. That was visible on the players faces today as their remaining scoring opportunities dwindled. Before we get in to the details here's your updated bracket.
Getting an early start at 9 AM was Anthon Barela, Reid Frescura, Joel Freeman, and Seppo Paju. Barela was one of the hot rounds on day 1 at 10 under par but was only able to fight back to even par for the round with a birdie on hole 17. But he was still absolutely crushing drives. That birdie on 17 was after a missed Circle 2 Putt for Eagle. Just check out the power in this slow-mo shot:
Frescura was dropping circle two putts from go. His "Circle 3" putt on hole 2 felt like it spent an eternity in the air. It looked like he was gonna ride that momentum and make his run at the Cinderella story of being seeded all but last. Unfortunately even with another couple circle 2 putts like this one on hole 15 he just couldn't put the round together and finished at 3 under par. That was enough to make the quarter-finals but not enough to make the semis.
âJoel Freeman took second place for the card but has finished in the tight pack at 6 under par. Just look at all those bold "1"s in the circle 2 range below. He was absolutely raining circle 2 putts. That first one a hole 1 should be marked a throw in. He was in the rough on the left of the hole yet the putt still felt like it was on a rope. Were it not for the slow-down in the middle he would have had a much less tense day. I caught up with him after the round and right from the start that's what he was thinking about "holes 6 & 7, two of the hardest holes out here, I went back to back birdies yesterday. That kind gave me a boost against the rest of the field yesterday, and then today went back to back bogeysâ¦All in all kind of a unique round. A lot of putts in that bonus range, 30-50, and I made 5 of em. That felt great." Even if he wasn't giving himself the opportunities, he capitalized on what he had enough to make it to the Semi-Finals.
âSeppo Paju finished the round winning his card but not so confident he had made the cut yet when we caught up. When I asked him how he was feeling about the round he went straight to the bogey on 18, "bogeying the last hole, maybe made me unsecure about my spot in the third round, but I'm feeling pretty confident I'll be in for tomorrow." Part of how he got there was with the help of two rollers on holes 11 & 12. When we were chatting he mentioned that was actually with a mid-range. He only carries one driver for rolling shots and that would have gone long of these baskets. The mid-range was the right choice. He did miss the birdie on 11 from circle 1, but came right back with the second roller, on 12 and made that circle 2 putts. Check that putt out here:
Simon started the day -5 for 5 and found his first real trouble on the tee of hole six. Simon hit the first tree off the tee which led to a sky hyzer to make the corner. When his second shot landed it circled and rolled OB. Throwing four Simon went right to the edge of the woods where he proceeded to try and pitch for the island. His disc hyzered out early, and he ended up OB for the second time on the hole. He would finish the hole with a triple-bogey eight. Before teeing on hole nine, Simon said "I'm over it" and began mounting his come-back. While he would bogey hole nine, he ended up birdieing four of the next five before missing the island on 15 and settling for bogey. Simon went for the eagle again on 17. He placed his drive inside C2 but barely drew chains on the putt. He would finish the round with a -6 hoping that is enough to move him into the semifinals.
Chris Dickerson on the other hand, played consistent golf all day. Chris carded his first bogey of the day on hole 11, a 286-foot woods hole. Chris hit the first tree off the tee and was unable to scramble to save par. His only other bogey came from the island hole (15) where he came up short on his drive. Chris would follow up his second bogey with a textbook drive on the wooded hole 16 and finish his round with a birdie to card a -10 for the second day in a row. Remember, that's a -10 round with two bogeys.
âCalvin Heimburg quietly carded the same -6 score that Simon did with his smooth putting and calm demeanor. Calvin's only two bogeys came on holes nine and fourteen. Both of which were the result of OB throws. Besides those two holes, Calvin kept it scary clean but finishing at 6 under he joined a growing pack of folks who weren't sure if they were destined to play another round. If only they knew that all of the -6 rounds were gonna make it.
âNikko Locastro, Paul Ulibarri, and Jeremy Koling, and Gregg Barsby all too their lap of the layout together. From the start, it looked like Barsby was raring to go and wasn't going to slow down. He went three for three, and his circle 2 putt on hole 4 was all chain, a little cage and just snuck out on him. Disaster first struck on hole 6 where he took a double bogey, 2 holes later he carded another. He worked what magic he could but by hole 18 he knew his run was over as he tried for the eagle 3 with two backhand rollers. But enough of him not making him, just look at this first putt!
âKoling also couldn't quite find his groove today. There were plenty of great moments but just a few too many low ones. Probably the worst moment was his three-putt on hole 11 after putting his drive well within circle 1. In fact, he was the closest player of that group. Koling wonât be playing tomorrow but just barely as he finished 5 under par. One throw out of the tie for sixth to stay in.
From the second card though Ulibarri and Nikko will be playing tomorrow. Ulibarri was one of only two players to keep the entire round clean of bogeys and OB penalties. Chatting with the pros, it's clear that's an impressive feat to accomplish. The only other player to join him in that was JohnE McCray. Ulibarri will need to collect a few more birdies if he expects to make it through the round tomorrow. 100% scramble will help him get there but he has got to score if he wants to get more.
Nikko Locastro almost joined the "clean disc" club if it weren't for the persnickety par 5 known as hole 6. There's a reason it's the hardest hole on the course for the most hardened pros we have. Inside Circle 1 he did collect a 100% Circle 1 Putting token. With some of the wind blowing through today that is an impressive feat. He really needed to connect on the circle 2 putts though. Making only 2 of 8. For most people, that's a good day. For Nikko, it's less than he usually makes but just enough to keep him in the mix.
Colten Montgomery was in the hunt for most of the day but was unable to card enough birdies to turn on the pressure really. Colten coasted, and two bogeys late landed him at -4 for the day. On his first bogey (14) he needed a C2 putt to save the bogey. His bogey on hole 17 was the result of him trying to go for the eagle (in Simon fashion) and hitting some branches early to come up short of the landing zone barely.
The 2 pm card started the day jovial and excited to see who would be able to advance to the semifinals round. JohnE and Nate Perkins both started the round -4 through five with Nate paring hole one and JohnE taking the par on hole five after bouncing off the band for a birdie.
Hole six has been the hole players have struggled with the most throughout the event. Nate Perkins opted to play it safe and go for the par. He executed each throw to perfection and had a tap-in putt for par. JohnE played slightly more aggressive and was able to land his birdie from just inside the circle. Nate attempted to play the same par strategy for hole eight but failed to convert his putt from Circle One. JohnE again had a look at birdie but had a C2 putt that he was unable to stick.
On the back nine, Nate began to see things fall apart for him. On holes 10 and 11, Nate encountered some mid-round Championship pressure as the gallery started to build around him and distractions arose. This led to two bogeys which he was, unfortunately, unable to overcome.
JohnE however, turned on the heat and began pushing to try and match the -10 pace set by Chris Dickerson. JohnE did this by going for birdies when possible but playing safe when he needed to be safe. On 15 instead of going for the island, JohnE laid up safe and then hit the elevated basket to ensure an easy three. I caught up with him after the round to see how that hot round was feeling, "I started real good and seemed like I was right there. After six holes I was right there to make it into tomorrow. I let up in the middle, but I knew I needed one more birdie and I got 4 or 5." And that's how you relevant in a field of constantly improving players. He's also just amped to make it to Saturday so all his local Floridian friends and family can be there and cheer him on.
Eric Oakley and Drew Gibson rounded out the 2 PM card. Both players struggled to get anything going. Eric played most of the day fighting to save par. On hole two Eric hit the basket from the double mando trees to nearly save par (over 250ft out) and then on hole nine he abandoned a drive after he thought he was OB and ended up taking a triple bogey eight.
Drew had an up down round where he never really had a chance to get things going. This is only Drew's second round on the course. He said he played last year's semifinals round without practice and also did not practice this week. It led to him asking for advice from card mates and not always being in a position to make a move. He ultimately finished towards the bottom today well out of a shot at advancing.
At this rate to move on to the finals tomorrow likely players will have to hit -9. Day 1 it was -3, Day 2, it was 6 under. The brackets have been updated and the cards are looking to be filled with some competitive fire. You can check those assignments out on our Bracket Page. New World Disc Golf is buzzing with excitement right now as the field is getting smaller and smaller. Each shot means more and more but the good news is no matter how well you do, you can only make more money. Now that's a great deal.
Article Written by Zach Podhorzer & Seth Fendley.
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