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2019 WACO presented by Dynamic Discs Round 1 FPO Recap: A bEast of a Roller Coaster Keeps Scores Close

By Baker Helton
Round one of the 2019 Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs is complete for the women’s division. With all of the cards turned in your current leaders in the clubhouse are Paige Bjerkaas and Catrina Allen tied at 3 under par. Sarah Hokom has sole possession of third at 1 under par and Vanessa Van Dyken is in fourth at even. Last year’s champion, Paige Pierce, had some trouble keeping it in the fairway and recovering when she needed to, she finished the day at 3 over par. Catrina Allen made her way quickly to three under as well, but both her and Bjerkaas both jumped on the roller coaster for the center stretch of the course. That’s where the fairways get narrow and the rough gets nastier. Picking up birdies in the wider park-style portion of the course gives you an almost essential cushion to make it through the forest. Or you can take Sarah Hokom’s approach – a point a shoot forehand kept her the cleanest on the day, with only two bogeys.

While last year’s WACO champion, Paige Pierce was starting her day off with three bogeys, one of this year’s leaders, Paige Bjerkaas, was starting it off with three birdies. By the end of hole three, there was a six throw gap between the two Paiges. But Bjerkaas’ perfect round came to a screeching halt as two bogeys in the next three holes gobbled that cushion up. Then, she bounced back with three birdies in the next seven holes and was looking confident with the lead. That is until the triple-mandatory hole 14 jumped up at got her. After a last-minute disc change on the tee, she made the mandatory but her drive flipped over and drifted into the out-of-bounds road on the right of the fairway. A missed Circle 1x putt left her with a drop-in double bogey and unseated from her throne atop the pack. But roller coasters are rarely flat, so naturally, she hit a birdie from just outside Circle 1 on hole 15. But the safety bars were still locked. 16 was par, and thanks to a missed Circle 1x putt, 17 brought another bogey. She needed a birdie on hole 18 to tie Catrina for the hot round. With a safe placement shot off the tee and a perfect approach, she got the birdie she needed.

While there was a battle unfolding on the feature card, on an un-filmed card a few holes ahead, Catrina Allen was collecting birdies and keeping the damage to a minimum. While the competition was tight between Bjerkaas and Hokom on the feature card, Catrina Allen was tearing away from her card with a handful more birdies than the rest of her card combined. In the first round of an event, it can be hard to know how low the field will go, so you have to play your best because on the cards you’re not seeing people are likely doing just that. Despite the distance from the competitors on her card, Catrina stayed focused throughout the round; Quickly regaining any ground she lost to bogeys or worse. Most importantly, she got onto a real streak of a back nine carding five birdies, and a single bogey before hole 18.  Double-putting in Circle 1X she was rewarded with a final bogey to finish the day.

There is another strategy to playing this course though. Instead of collecting birdies on the open section to spend on bogeys in the forest you can take Sarah Hokom’s approach – a point and shoot forehand. That’s what kept her round the cleanest of the day. Her first bogey came early and her second mistake came late, hole 17 late to be specific; an anxiety-inducing placement shot on the left side had her right behind the two huge trees in the fairway that mark the dog-leg right. Trusting that forehand again, she looked for a flex shot but running from the water on the left she got caught up in the woods and OB on the right. A smooth forehand up let her comfortably make the short putt for bogey. From there she quickly walked up to 18’s tee, ready to take on the hole that cost her the event last year. Fortunately, today isn’t quite the same high-pressure moment last year was, but a birdie or even par would keep her within one or two throws of the lead headed into day 2. Her drive was plenty far right to avoid the out of bounds that had gotten her on the left last year, but she was probably a little too safe, hitting the edge of the lake only to bounce into the water. This time she made sure to putt her approach right under the basket for a drop in par.

Rounding out tomorrow’s lead card will be Vanessa Van Dyken, who’s even score on round 1 left her with three throws on Pierce who will be the top of the chase card in round 2. She started the round with a solid front nine, heading into the back nine at two under. If she could have just held it together or scored on the back she would have been that much closer to being in on the tie for first. Alas, she only carded pars, a bogey, a double bogey, and a single birdie on hole 10. Pierce’s round was a real roller coaster, but that six throw deficit Bjerkaas had on her after three throws ended up being as bad as it would get. At a course like Brazos East though, we already have seen that six throws can swing in just a couple holes, so Pierce is by no means out of it and if there is anyone who can chase down a gap like that it’s Paige Pierce.

Wow! That’s a lot to process and there’s only going to be more tomorrow. But for now, that wraps up our recap of the first round of the Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs. As expected, we already see a number of ties on the leader board and there are still a handful of players that could take this win home. We’ll just have to wait and see how play continues tomorrow. Tune back in tomorrow as live coverage continues. Paige Bjerkaas and Catrina Allen will battle it out on the same card this time to see if one of them can gain a lead on the other. But don’t count Hokom, Van Dyken or even Pierce out as any of them could surge on moving day to put the pressure on for the final round this Saturday. You can check out our live and post-production schedule below because you won’t want to miss any of this action.

This article written by Staff Editor and Writer Zach Podhorzer . All photography credit to Alyssa Van Lanen.