The Idlewild Open is in the books, and the Pro Tour has a new victor on the MPO side for the third time this season. Eagle McMahon snagged his first Pro Tour victory at Memorial to open the season, and Drew Gibson grabbed his from Eagle in a play-off at the inaugural Portland Open. This weekend, it was the Wonder Boy from Arkansas Kevin Jones who would bring home the victory. Kevin joined the Pro Tour at Ledgestone in 2017 and has not looked back. At Kevin's first event in 2017, he finished tied for 82nd. The past two and half seasons has been a testament to his continued improvement. In 2017 Kevin missed qualification for the Pro Tour finale in 2017, in 2018 he had a bye to the semifinals, and with his win today he moves into 2nd in tour standings.
Kevin started the day with a three throw lead on James Conrad, and James had three on Calvin Heimburg. Kevin took advantage of a slow start from James Conrad to gain up to a seven throw lead going into the back nine. Kevin's first blemish of the day came on the 368ft hole ten. A missed putt from inside the circle is what led to the bogey. James was able to bide his time, and it appeared that having a potential win in the bag began to get to Kevin. After trading birdies on the infamous KY hole thirteen, Kevin would card back-to-back bogeys to give James a shot at catching him. With a shot at eagle on sixteen James had a chance to move within three. His putt would come up just short, and he would need an eagle and a misstep from Kevin to have a shot of catching him. James drive had a chance to skip under the basket for a tap-in eagle on seventeen, but instead, it bounced just short OB. Kevin would have a misstep of his own and would end up settling for par to Jame's OB birdie. Going into eighteen all Kevin had to do was stay clean through the woods and he would be home-free for his first career win. When asked when he knew he was going to win, he said, "I thought I had it in the bag after the front nine and then the back nine of Idlewild showed its teeth." Immediately after his win, Kevin indicated that things would be more natural going forward. Asking him what he meant by that he said: "I think that being in the position to win and understanding you are in that position can add stress, now that I've done it it will be much easier to me." With all of the hard questions wrapped up, there was only one left to ask - How does it feel? Kevin replied, "It feels cold; I got the Rick Jones special." For those following at home, the Rick Jones special is a homage to Kevin's father, a hall of fame high school football coach in his home state of Arkansas. After finishing an interview with Cory Murrell Kevin's teammate, Charlie Cavalier dumped a jug of water on Kevin to celebrate his win.
Elsewhere in the field, Garrett Gurthie made moves, carding a nine-under-par round today. Garrett's round was set after he landed six birdies on the front nine and then avoided the bogeys on the back nine to move up to a third-place podium finish. Trevor Harbolt also had a great round going six down on the day. His single-bogey performance allowed him to move up into a fourth-place finish, his best performance at a Pro Tour event in his career.
Calvin Heimburg and Dan Hastings would struggle on the lead card today both taking uncharacteristic triple and double bogeys respectively. Calvin would end up finishing the day two under par for the round. This would result in a fifth-place finish. Dan had a little bit better day going three down on his round, but due to the deficit he was trying to make up from Calvin and Garret and Trevor's performances he ended up sliding down to a sixth-place finish.
It was a stellar weekend of competition at the Idlewild Open driven by Innova and The Nati Disc Golf. The Pro Tour will take a break for Pro Worlds which will take place August 10-17th. The next Pro Tour stop will be at the MVP Open August 29-September 1.
Paige Pierce set the stage starting aggressive. On the par-four hole 1, she went for the pin on her second shot, parking it. On hole two she ran a Circle 2 putt on a fast green with water behind. Center chains. Paige birdied the first two holes and quickly had a two-stroke lead. On hole 3, her jump putt missed left, and her 12 foot tap out splashed right side. Three Putt. Catrina parks hole 4 for the easy birdie, and we are all tied up. And we were just getting started.
Over holes six through nine, Paige had four putts. Catrina had seven. And Paige was up by two again through nine. Not to worry though, on hole 12 Paige gets in trouble off the tee and ends with a double bogey. Catrina cards the par, and we are all tied up again. So through 12 holes, Paige has four birdies, two bogeys and a double while Catrina has two birdies and two bogeys. Very different ways to sit at even par.
On 13, Paige takes the lead.
On 14, Catrina ties it back up.
On 15, Paige takes the lead.
On 16, Catrina ties it back up.
If you did not watch this live, you need to go back and experience the drama. Today was an insane round between two incredible athletes, plus every once in a while, Madison Walker was within a couple of strokes. Idlewild has one of the most robust finishes in disc golf. This course tests all of your throws, the accuracy of your lines, and your mental fortitude. On hole 16, Paige carded a quad bogey on day one. Today, she played super safe, still threw OB, drained a huge Circle 2 putt, and still lost a stroke. On hole 17, Catrina set herself up for a straightforward par four. Paige continued her aggressive play and on her second shot, going for the green got an unfortunate kick OB. She was left with a 50 footer, with an OB creek just past the pin. Catrina was parked for the par. She could lay up and concede one stroke or go for it and risk losing two strokes.
Robert, Dixon, the hundreds of fans on-site and over 3,000 people watching online held their collective breath. Paige lined up her putt. The most crucial putt of the round, and she had hit some big ones to this point. Paige launches the disc. It is flat and true — chains ring. The crowd explodes. And we are tied going into the final hole of regulation.
Cat and Paige struggled on the fairway of the par-four hole 18. A very excited Dixon Jowers commentating on the live coverage said that every shot, for the last six holes, was a momentum swing. It could go either way — all day. Paige left herself with a 30 footer for the bogey. Catrina was under the basket for an easy bogey.
Robert, Dixon, the hundreds of fans on-site, and over 3,500 people watching online held their collective breath. Again, Paige's putt was accurate. Cat dropped in her bogey as well. Madison cards the only par on the 18th and finishes in third, two shots back.
We go to hole 1. Both players put up amazing drives, well over 400 feet. Catrina lined up her approach and pulled it way left. She found herself just outside Circle 1 with a tough putt on the elevated basket. Paige throws her approach about 20 feet past. Not an easy putt, but with the putter working the way it was today, we expect she will drain it. So it comes to Catrina, 35 feet from the basket. Again, everyone watching holds their breath.
Catrina's putt is low and right, but that is not the story. Her disc does a slow roll, for close to ten seconds, and finally settles down about 70 feet from the pin. Her approach/run draws metal, but the battle is over. Paige lays up and taps in for the victory and just like that we have a champion. One of the most epic battles in disc golf this season is ended with a deflating roll away.
It was a fantastic battle between the titans of the FPO. Thank you for sharing your skills and putting yourselves out there. Our heartfelt thanks to Catrina and Paige for another exciting chapter in the growth of women's disc golf.
On Saturday evening, James Conrad's ace from the Idlewild Open driven by Innova and The Nati Disc Golf made it onto SportsCenter's Top 10 Snapchat for the day. This video was the 23rd piece of disc golf content to grace the national media airwaves.
We have compiled a list of all of the aces and other disc golf content (McBeth's two -18's and Philo's Albatross included) so that you can relive each moment whenever you wish. We have even included a tracker so you can know whether or not Jeremy Koling was present. It's not as many as you'd think, with his witness count sitting at six currently.
What's your favorite disc golf feature on the timeline?
Check out the ESPN Sightings Page!
Heather Young picked up her first golf disc in the Winter of 2017/18. 19 months later, she is on the lead card at her first Disc Golf Pro Tour event. Did we mention that she is 16? Cameras on cell phones have been around longer. Elaine King first picked up a golf disc in 1983. She has won more majors than you have fingers.
Elaine and Heather have become friends on the course and the Idlewild Open is the third time that they have competed. In August of 2018, at the Music City Open*, Heather's first pro event, Elaine beat Heather by 20. In May of 2019, at Tennessee States, Elaine and Heather were tied after regulation, with Elaine winning in the playoff. In July of 2019, at her first Disc Golf Pro Tour event, Heather finds herself on the lead card going into the final round, three strokes ahead of Elaine.
A quick history of Heather Young's disc golf career:
We have a story in the making in this 16 year old phenom. This home schooled disc golfer has three sisters and is an excellent student athlete. She excels at history (and all of her studies) and is learning to play the piano. In addition to that, she currently leads Elaine King by three going into the final round of her first Disc Golf Pro Tour event. She is also on the lead card due to her hot round.
*It should be noted that Madison Walker won the Music City Open
With another day of perfect scoring conditions came another set of blazing scores from the MPO division. With a solid log jam after first and second place on the leader board after round one, many players were looking to make their mark on moving day.
A group of early movers includes Alex Russell, Armando Ensenat, and Logan Bowers who all finished the day carding two six-under and a five-under respectively. Alex and Logan finish the day in a tie for 26th place after moving up 25 and 20 spots respectively. Armando would use his six-under performance to move up 23 spots into a tie for 23rd place.
Another early mover was Edward Ward who used an ace on hole three to help propel him to a seven-under performance. Edward was not able to stay bogey-free, but his seven birdies and one ace helped move him up 19 spots into a tie for 17th place.
The big movers were Nathan Queen, Trevor Harbolt, and Chris Clemons who threw -10 and two -9 rounds to move up 39, 25, and 29 spots.
Nathan's performance was one of the best of the day. He started with three birdies but said that the double bogey that he took on five was what probably propelled him to make so many more birdies across the rest of the round. He would go bogey-eagle on holes seven and eight before turning on the heat. Queen carded birdies on the next seven of the final ten holes. While he moved up 39 spots it looks not to be enough to make it onto the lead or chase card tomorrow. With a -10 under his belt, Nathan could be in a position to make a push for a podium finish tomorrow.
Trevor Harbolt and Chris Clemons both carded -9 today and will be in a position to maintain and push for a top ten finish tomorrow. Chris's round started hot with him carding four birdies in the first five holes. He would then use a birdie sting on 11 through 14 to solidify his bogey-free performance; he is going into tomorrow just inside the top ten. Trevor, on the other hand, had a seven-hole par-streak to stay bogey-free for the day and finished eagle, birdie to land well within the top ten going into tomorrow.
On the lead card, Emerson Keith played safe golf staying bogey-free until hole seventeen and picking up eagles and birdies when he could. While Emerson's scoring was sparse, he did card an eagle on hole eight for his first hole under-par for the day. A few birdies across the back nine helped keep him on chase card going into the final round.
At the top of the card, Kevin Jones and James Conrad sparred as Kevin held a three-throw lead going into the round and Conrad sought to unseat him. They would go shot-for-shot on the first three holes before James was able to get an edge, carding a birdie on hole four to Kevin's par. Kevin gained the throw back on hole five, and they returned to going shot-for-shot until hole nine. On holes nine and ten, Kevin would play himself, birdieing nine and taking a bogey on ten while James carded pars. They returned to their dueling shot-for-shot game until the challenging hole 15. Kevin was able to avoid going over par on the hole for the first time since round two last year when he birdied the hole. It would be James who carded the birdie today moving the score within two.
James would eagle sixteen while Kevin carded a birdie to move within one. On the tricky hole seventeen Kevin would walk away with a birdie while James had to save bogey to give Kevin his original three throw lead. After carding pars on the 18th, the stage is set to see if James, or someone else, can climb the leader board again to challenge Kevin. They both shot double digits under par. For Kevin, it was two worse. For James, one better. Unless Calvin Heimburg catches on fire, one of those two is likely to be our 2019 Idlewild Open champion.
Rounding out tomorrow's lead card will be Calvin Heimburg and Dan Hastings. Calvin played consistent golf all day to help keep him in a stable third-place position going into the final round. Calvin's two falters on the par-four holes five and twelve would keep him from making any further moves today. Dan also put together a day of stellar play that had all but sealed his spot on the lead card until he carded a bogey on the rolling, long hole sixteen. He would bide his time until the lead card finished and Emerson Keith carded a bogey on his final hole to find his spot on the lead card.
Make plans to tune in and watch the final round of the Idlewild Open driven by Innova and The Nati Disc Golf live tomorrow starting at 3:30 PM ET.
Idlewild has a way of taking and not giving and the women of round two did their best to hang on. The previous seven Pro Tour events have averaged winning scores on the FPO side of 15 down. Two rounds in, it is clear that Idlewild even par would be a great score. Through 13 holes, Paige Pierce (Dynamic) was one under par and had closed the three stroke deficit to Catrina Allen. "I'm still having trouble off the tee. My putts are good but I need to clean things up off the tee.", Paige Pierce said. She was 80% on fairway hits, which is critical to success at Idlewild. She was also 100% in C1X and hit a Circle 2 putt for birdie on hole 9.
Meanwhile, Catrina Allen (Prodigy) carded a double bogey early, going OB on hole 2. Her card was very clean other than that, with par seeming to be the order of the day. Through 13, she carded just two birdies and two bogeys.
Madison Walker (Innova) put herself in position to be in contention should both Paige and Catrina stumble and Jessica Weese (Innova) recovered very well from a trio of consecutive of double bogeys on holes 3, 4 and 5, carding four birdies on the final ten holes and putting herself in a three-way tie for fourth. Madison said, "I played well today, minimized my doubles and played well on holes that I had trouble on in round 1. I'm excited to be back in the woods." Sarah Hokom (MVP) struggled today but maintained her position. She sits in fourth.
Catrina kept her parbecue (thanks YouTube chat) going on hole 14 with a clean drive and upshot while Paige went wide and was unable to scramble, losing one stroke. Paige scrambled for par on hole 15. Catrina set herself up for par on 15 with two controlled shots and missed her third C1X putt in a row, making this her fourth shot lost on the putting green to Paige and tying them up.
As Paige prepared to drive on hole 16, the tension was thick as we imagined Dixon Jowers and Robert McCall discussing Paige's quadruple bogey on this hole yesterday. Paige's drive flew flat and far but hyzered out of bounds, going about 150 feet farther than her round one drive before going OB. Everyone watched in anticipation to see if Paige could save the par or if the wheels would fall off on hole 16 again. The live coverage bounced back and forth between cards as the tension mounted. Paige's third shot (counting the OB stroke) was crushed and put her in C2 putting for birdie! She hit the front cage but improved by four, and the pressure shifted to Catrina.
Where Paige through flat and straight, Catrina played hyzer the whole way, landing on the left side of the fairway and skipping OB. Her distance was very similar to Paige's, jumping out of bounds at the almost identical spot. Her next shot, however, was very different, flying OB again, then failing to get up and down, carding the double bogey. With just two holes left in the round, Catrina had not only lost her three-stroke lead; she was now down by two to a particular round by Paige.
After pars on hole 17, hole 18 came up and bit in every way. Paige went off the fairway early and never recovered until carding the triple-bogey seven. Meanwhile, Catrina put herself in an excellent position to take the lead back on the final hole. Her 50-foot putt for par and a one-stroke lead was a putt of beauty, catching chains pro side. As Catrina picked up her mini, the disc sliced through the chains and dropped out the backside. Catrina's reaction showed her disbelief and left her tied with Paige Pierce for the lead. Paige predicts, "one over will win it. Every time I make a bogey, I know I can get a birdie." When asked where she has the advantage on the field, she replied, "I think holes 13 and 14 are ones I can get." We will get to see tomorrow if that comes true.
Meanwhile, Madison played a very consistent round, one stroke worse than her day one score, and finds herself just one stroke off the lead. 100% C1X putting, draining a Circle 2 putt for birdie on hole 4, and only having one double bogey or worse were her keys to staying in the mix. Heather Young, who tied Catrina Allen's +6 for the third-best round of the day, moves up five spots and secures a place on the lead card. She is five shots back.
The final round starts at 9:00 Eastern on Sunday, July 28th. Watch it here!
Last year Kevin Jones jumped out to the lead with a -10 down in round one of the Idlewild Open and maintained the lead until hole fifteen on the final day. This year Kevin will hope to carry the lead the entire tournament and bring home his first Pro Tour win.
Before Kevin and the feature card came out the early leaders were Corey Ellis and Sam Lee. Both players shot a -7, one gaining most of their throws in the front nine and the other in the back nine. Corey Ellis came out guns blazing carding nine birdies before taking back-to-back bogeys on fifteen and sixteen. He would birdie seventeen and then give the throw back on eighteen finishing with a bogey. Corey is not new to top performances at Idlewild. Last year Corey started the final round -8 for the tournament and in the top ten before having a rough last round and finishing 16th.
On the other side of the coin was Sam Lee, Sam's hot round materialized late when he carded back-to-back eagles on sixteen and eighteen. Sam is a Kentucky player from about two hours south of the Idlewild course. Sam has cashed in every event he has played this year minus one C-Tier Ice Bowl at the beginning of the season. His cashes include tournaments like Memorial, Tennessee States, Ledgestone, and most notably a 16th place finish at Discraft's Great Lakes Open. While Sam may be a new name on the course, he has the chops to hang at the top of the field for the tournament.
On the lead card for tomorrow will be the Kevin Jones as mentioned earlier along with James Conrad, Calvin Heimburg, and Emerson Keith. James Conrad won the Idlewild Open in 2017 and took second place last year, so his presence at the top of the leaderboard was not unexpected. What was surprising was the ACE James carded on hole nine. James would finish the day -9 three throws behind Kevin Jones.
Calvin Heimburg started the day on the GK Pro Post-Produced card. He landed a double bogey on the same hole that James Conrad landed his ace. Calvin was able to build a come-back with an eagle on sixteen and a birdie on seventeen to finish in a three-way tie for third.
Calvin is tied with Emerson Keith and Zach Arlinghaus. Based on PDGA numbers, Calvin and Emerson will be on the lead card with Zach leading the chase card tomorrow. Emerson Keith was the other player to card an ace today, landing the ace on hole three. Emerson made an impressive eagle on seventeen to be in the hunt and could have been in a tie for second if it had not been for an unfortunate bogey on hole eighteen.
Notable mentions, only four people went bogey-free today. Zach Arlinghaus, Nate Perkins, Andrew Marwede, and Ryan Kenny were the only players who were able to avoid the teeth of Idlewild. Zach will be on the chase card tomorrow, Nate Perkins and Andrew Marwede are both in a tie for 8th place after going -6 bogey-free and Ryan is T21 with a four down.
You can watch the lead card moving day action tomorrow starting at 3:30 PM ET. On the card will be Kevin Jones, James Conrad, Calvin Heimburg, and Emerson Keith. Make plans to tune in and watch!
Round One of the Idlewild Open driven by Innova and The Nati Disc Golf is in the books for the FPO division. With a challenging track like Idlewild, many players in the field had the goal of avoiding big numbers. With the worst scores being quadruple-bogey eights for many players most of the field were able to keep the larger digits in check.
The feature card only had one player, Sarah Hokom, looking at the lead card tomorrow. This left the rest of the rounds worthy of tomorrow's lead card to come from players who finished earlier in the morning. Those scores came from Catrina Allen, Holly Finley, and Elaine King.
The past two years at this event, Catrina Allen finished in 8th place. Catrina started the day with seven pars before landing her first bogey. She was able to get back to even two holes later when she carded a birdie two on the short hole eleven. She would go bogey birdie again on holes twelve and fourteen before finishing the last four holes with three bogeys. With a four-over performance on day one, Catrina was able to complete the day with the lead.
Elaine King is playing her second Disc Golf Pro Tour stop of the season. She started the day with some stellar play to make her way onto the lead card tomorrow. Elaine began her round with three bogeys through her first seven holes before taking advantage of the birdie opportunities on eight, nine, and eleven. She had an eagle look on 16 which could have moved her into solo first place. After missing a long putt from C2 and then two-putting inside the circle, she would settle for a bogey. Elaine would bogey out from there and finish +5 for the day in a tie for second place.
Also tied with Elaine is Holly Finley. Holly had her share of the lead at one point early in today's round, but a rough final four holes left her status on tomorrow's lead card in question until the feature card was complete. Holly did not drop off her prospects of the lead card until hole fifteen. It was hole sixteen which really put things in limbo when she threw three OB throws ultimately taking an eight on the hole. Holly would finish her round five over par which would be enough to put her into a tie for second after the rest of the cards had made it through the treacherous hole sixteen.
Rounding out tomorrow's lead card will be Sarah Hokom. Sarah has taken second the past two years at Idlewild, and she fought through the course to stay on the lead card for day two of this year's event. Sarah's only birdie of the day came on the short hole eleven. The key to her success was to avoid taking double bogeys while saving par and bogey out on the challenging Idlewild course.
Someone who was not able to keep the larger digits in check was last year's winner Paige Pierce. Paige set the pace early in the round but had two holes which ultimately dropped her into a tie for 7th at plus seven. On hole seven Paige landed a triple bogey and was able to fight her way back up into the lead until hole 16 where she carded the largest number of the field - a nine after taking four OB throws. Watch for Paige to overcome those two hiccup holes tomorrow and make a push to be back on the lead card for the final round.
Tomorrow's live coverage kicks off at 9 AM ET with Catrina Allen, Elaine King, Holly Finley, and Sarah Hokom. Tell your friends and tune in to watch.
The Idlewild Open driven by Innova Discs and The Nati kicks off this week and if history and this year's most recent competition tell us anything - Paige Pierce is going to win.
Paige Pierce winning is nothing new, but between her current success (she has won every event since Santa Cruz) and the past two years at Idlewild (in 2017 Pierce won by nine, 2018 she won by seven); you can almost say with certainty that she will win again. What has her path to success in the previous two years? In 2017 Paige struggled a little bit on making C2 in regulation but made up for things by dominating the putting stats boxes. In 2018 she was able to shore up her drives but lost strokes with a drop in scramble percentage and putting. The one question in Paige's game going into Idlewild will be how she will handle her C1x putting. Currently this season she is 21st in the FPO field in C1x putting. If there were going to be anything that was going to stop Paige (at least on paper), it would be her putting.
Another constant in the FPO competition is Sarah Hokom taking second at this event. In 2017, the race for second place was relatively close. Sarah only took second over Lisa Fajkus by two throws. In 2018 while Sarah lost to Paige by seven, she outpaced Rebecca Cox by thirteen. In 2017 Sarah was able to edge out the competition for second place by being 1st in C1 in regulation and 2nd in C2 in regulation. Her driving put her in a position to outstretch Lisa. In 2018 it was the same two stats that helped propel her above the competition. This year Sarah has switched sponsors (to MVP) and has struggled to maintain the top three spots (and Tour Points and Championship title) that she had last season. The one place on the stat sheet where Sarah is still hanging on is scrambling. Given the technical aspects of the Idlewild course, scrambling is critical, so this could be an advantage for Sarah in a potential shot at repeating for second place.
Elsewhere in the field, local-pro Rebecca Cox was able to improve her standing from 5th in 2017 to 3rd in 2018. Her success on her hometown course the past two years is very similar to her success in the 2019 season. This year Rebecca has been able to stick close in the Tour Points race and is currently 3rd in Tour Points behind Catrina Allen and Paige Pierce. Rebecca's performance last year at Idlewild and her performance so far this season indicates that she might be in a prime spot to leap-frog Sarah into second place. Rebecca is not only positioned to take second but given Paige's travel schedule coming back from the European Open, she could make a run at winning her first Pro Tour event.
One player who has seemingly struggled at this event the past two years has been Catrina Allen. In 2017 Catrina's T5th finish was among one of her three worst finishes on the pro tour that season. In 2018 her 8th place finish at the event was also her second-worst finish. While top ten finishes on tour are nothing to shake a stick at, one would expect a player with the win record of Catrina's to be dominating across the board at events. In 2017 Catrina struggled to make it onto the fairway, and she also failed to make a single C2 putt while playing at Idlewild. In 2018 at this event Cat struggled to make it onto the fairway, which in turn hurt her scramble rate. Coupled with a low putting percentage, Catrina ended up barely making the cash line. Based on the stats it would seem Cat's inability to get clean off the drive is what has hurt her performance at Idlewild the past two seasons. This season though Catrina has cleaned things up, she is 2nd in the field in fairway hits across all events and leads parked and C2 in regulation percentages. If she can power through her past mistakes on the Idlewild course, it is possible that she will be set up for success.
Another story this season is the expanding FPO field. In 2017 twelve FPO players attended Idlewild, in 2018 there were nineteen, this year there are currently twenty-seven players registered for the division. A few notable players who will be in attendance for the first time this year include Callie McMorran, Hailey King, Vanessa Van Dyken, and Elaine King. Callie McMorran and Hailey King have toured together this summer, and both have had their successes on the course. Hailey King most recently had a strong performance at the Ledgestone Insurance Open. Vanessa Van Dyken has been touring this year with more veracity than years past, and this has resulted in her making it into the top ten in DGPT standings. She has consistently finished within the top ten this season. Finally, Elaine King is a stalwart in the FPO division and her precision on the course could lend itself to competitive success at Idlewild this weekend.
The Idlewild Open driven by Innova and The Nati kicks off July 26th and will include two feature cards from the FPO division. The live feature card will consist of Paige Pierce, Sarah Hokom, Jessica Weese and the winner of the fan vote. The post-produced feature card from GK Pro will include Madison Walker, Christine Jennings, and Rebecca Cox alongside the runner-up in the fan vote. You can watch the live-action on the DGPT YouTube channel and the Disc Golf Network starting at 9 AM ET each day. Tell your friends and tune in to watch!
The Disc Golf Pro Tour is proud to announce the location of the 2019 Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship as well as a new title sponsor for the event. The Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship will take place on October 31-November 3rd in Emporia, Kansas. The Championship will take place on the famed Jones Gold course, a 10,000ft plus merging of the Jones East and West courses. In talking about the course, Course Designer, World Champion, and Emporia Local, Eric McCabe said: "Jones Gold is one of my favorite courses I've designed. It's a combination of Jones East and Jones West Par 70 that measures in over 10,000 feet. I've been a strong advocate of utilizing this course during Glass Blown Open, but to do so, we'd lose two excellent courses. We did play a similar layout at the 2012 GBO before we needed additional courses for the 1600+ Players coming to town. The new, revised Jones Gold is by far the best test for these guys and gals. Distance helps, but pinpoint accuracy and hitting your putts is what will lead you to victory."
A move to Emporia, Kansas means a new presenting sponsor for the Pro Tour Championship as well. Dynamic Discs has stepped in as the presenting sponsor of the event. Events Coordinator Doug Bjerkaas had the following to say about DD hosting the event: "Emporia is so excited to host a showcase of the world's best disc golfers. The DGPT finals are unlike any other event that Dynamic Discs has hosted. We are up for the challenge of delivering an experience that will exceed both the players and the fans' expectations. Our efforts will be focused on not only preparing a great course for the competitors to test their disc golf skills but promoting the event to spectators to come to Emporia and witness the event live!"
Tour Director Steve Dodge offered the following comments regarding this year's location and the decision process: "The Pro Tour is excited to be partnering with Dynamic Discs and bringing the Tour Championship to Emporia. The Jones Gold course is one of the gems of Emporia that is not seen during the annual trek to GBO. It will be awesome to see the best in the world competing for the title and showcasing another amazing Eric McCabe designed course."
When considering the technicality of the Jones Gold Course and how it will showcase players' skills in a Championship fashion McCabe offered the following breakdown of holes one and eighteen: "Hole number 1 starts off BIG. We start on Jones East hole 9 and plays to hole 11, the famous Billy Engle ACE hole. The Tee shot on this hole is the most crucial, you must clear the first few Cedar trees and get far enough down the fairway to have a clear look at your second shot. Your next shot plays uphill with OB Road on the left, and Pond on the right. The fairway also slopes from left to right making the distance deceiving. We will most likely see a couple of eagles on this hole, as well as a handful of bogeys. Hole number 18 is just as challenging as the starting hole. We're playing Jones East hole 7, to hole 8. MPO this hole is going to play as a Par 4 while the FPO plays as a Par 5. Once again, the Tee shot on this hole is the most crucial. You really want to be as close to the regular course, hole 8's tee pad to attack this hole. From there you'll have to clear around 275' of OB tall grass. We'll see quite a few birdies on this finishing hole, but if your tee shot is too far left your only option will be to pitch out of the group of Pines."
Besides a passion for disc golf, Emporia is known for the weather players deal with while on the course. Doug Bjerkaas offered a ray of sunshine regarding the weather: "The average high temperature in Emporia at the beginning of November is 63°. The average low temperature is 42°. With DGPT final rounds scheduled in the middle of the day, the fall Kansas weather should be fantastic for testing the talents of the best disc golfers in the world! Worried about rain? While we can make no guarantees, the beginning of November has historically seen an 83% chance of having no precipitation...one of the least likely times of the year for rain!"
The process of choosing a site for the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship took longer than anticipated this season. The decision was prolonged due to a variety of excellent course and host options, which made it challenging to decide. The Disc Golf Pro Tour would like to thank the other locations and organizations which submitted bids to host this year's tour championship. With options in both Pennsylvania and Texas, there was a breadth of areas competing to be the host. The Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship presented by Dynamic Discs will take place on October 31st through November 3rd. Make plans to tune in and watch!
The Idlewild Open driven by Innova and The Nati Disc Golf kicks off this week with a top MPO player set to play Idlewild for the first time on the competitive stage and a few of the top players not in attendance due to the Europe Swing and Am Worlds.
To the jubilation of many Cincinnati locals, Ricky Wysocki will be making his way to the Idlewild Open this year. He is excited to play the course, noting: "This is my first trip to Idlewild. I've heard it's my kind of course tight wooded par 4s and 5s." Ricky has previously been unable to attend due to his European travel. He knows fans have wanted to see him play the course, and he is anxious to play it as well
Regarding missing the event in the past, Ricky said: "I have to do what makes the most sense for my tour schedule. I know it's really close to my home state of Ohio so it will be good to be back with the semi home state fans. But the tournament has always overlapped with my Europe trip, so it was never really possible until this year. Let's hope I can make up for the times I missed this event." Ricky noted the timing of the event would impact his practice schedule, but he is still hopeful for a good showing: "I will be getting less practice than my normal tournament routine due to the long trip back to the states. I'm going into this event knowing this, but I'm still excited. Let's hope one round of practice is enough." When pressed further about his practice routine, Ricky said he plans on doing the following to prepare his Idlewild game plan: "I will form my game plan and shot selection during the practice round. I will throw a lot of practice shots on every hole to see what works for me and what doesn't. Then I make an adjustment based on all my practice round shots. But for the most part, I can see a hole and know pretty much exactly what I'm going to do. I'm also good at adapting and changing my game plan on the fly based on wind, rain, and all the other variables in our sport." Based on Ricky's enthusiasm, it looks like it will definitely be exciting for fans of the sport to finally have the opportunity to see how the Sockibomb takes on the tight fairways of Idlewild.
One player who has been in attendance the previous two years will not be playing this year, and that is Paul McBeth. Paul will not be in Europe but will instead be in Pennsylvania to take part in the Amateur World Championships festivities. Other players not attending the event will be Eagle McMahon and Simon Lizotte. Neither competitor has had the opportunity to play the Idlewild Open due to the scheduling of the European swing.
Who will be in attendance, though? Two names which should stick out to you are James Conrad and Kevin Jones. James Conrad won his first Pro Tour event in 2017 at Idlewild. James has shown that the fairways of the Idlewild course make him feel like he is back at home in Virginia. In 2017 James was able to bide his time to bring home the win. He threw three off the pace in the first round, one off the hot round in the second, and maintaining a respectable five down on the final day to fend off a charging Paul McBeth. Last year, James threw four off the pace round one, a slowed down four-under in round two and then a six down in round three but was unable to catch McBeth. James will be one of the players we expect to see at the top of the leaderboard this year.
Last year Kevin Jones stormed onto the scene with a hot round day one which helped him maintain the lead going into the final round. Kevin was making up for his 52nd place performance the year before. Kevin would ultimately finish in 5th place for the tournament after the wheels fell off during the back nine of the final round. On hole 15 Kevin took a triple-bogey seven after going into the rough on his drive and struggling to make it back to the fairway. Kevin will use his recent performances at Ledgestone, DGLO, and the Presidents Cup to muster the resolve to overcome not only hole 15 but potentially put himself in position for his first Disc Golf Pro Tour win.
Also coming off a strong performance is local disc golf prodigy, Zach Arlinghaus. Zach recently won the 18 and under division at the Junior Worlds Championship in Emporia Kansas. He did so in commanding fashion averaging 1021 golf. In 2017 a 1021 average would have resulted in a top ten finish at Idlewild, in 2018 a top sixteen finish. Last year Zach placed 52nd at the event. Maybe this year Zach can do the same thing Kevin Jones did last year and catapult himself into the lead early on the Idlewild course.
Other players in attendance will be Chris Dickerson who has had two top-ten finishes at Idlewild and is the current defending Pro Tour Champion. Currently, Dickerson is right outside the Tour Points line and will be looking for another top ten finish in hopes of securing another entry into the Pro Tour Championship. Nate Perkins and Michael Johansen have both had top-five finishes at Idlewild the past two years and should be in serious contention for podium finishes this year. Zach Melton will also be looking to follow-up on last year's podium finish at this event.
These are just a few of the players who will be looking for their shot at bringing home the Idlewild Open crown. There will be two feature cards on day one, live and post-produced. The live feature card will include James Conrad, Kevin Jones, Ricky Wysocki, and the fan vote winner. The GK Pro post-produced card will feature Garrett Gurthie, Jeremy Koling, Zach Arlinghaus and fan vote runner-up. You can follow all of the scores this weekend on Udisc Live and tune in to watch the live feature card starting at 3:30 PM ET.
Discraft's Great Lakes Open has come to a close, and Paul McBeth is now a 2x Champion. Kevin Jones started the day with a one throw lead over the Paul McBeth, and it shaped to up be a battle throughout the day. Kevin gave Paul a stoke early going OB on his first drive of the day. Kevin would then have to settle for par on hole two while Paul landed a birdie and at that point, his lead was relinquished. Kevin would get back to a tie, grabbing a birdie on hole three to Paul's par and the battle was on. They went shot-for-shot on holes four and five before Paul grabbed two birdies to Kevin's two pars on holes six and seven. Kevin grabbed both of them back on eight and nine, and Paul and Kevin went into the back nine tied with a five throw lead on the rest of the field. On hole 11 Paul would throw his drive past the basket for a birdie two and Kevin would have to settle for a par giving Paul the lead. Paul and Kevin would again go shot-for-shot holes twelve-through the end of the round. Paul's birdie on 11 resulted in his victory, making him a repeat Discraft Great Lakes Open Champion.
Outside of the battle for first, there were several players in the hunt to make a top-five finish. Zackeriath Johnson started the day on the chase card after shooting one of the hotter rounds yesterday and proceeded to move up two spots into a tie for third place after birdieing three of the first five holes by the time he finished his round he found himself in solo third place. Adam Hammes also battled early to move up ten spots and into a tie for third place for most of his round. When it was all said and done, he ended up moving up seven spots in a tie for seventh place. Also in the mix were Zach Melton and JohnE McCray. JohnE threw the same round at Zackeriath yesterday. JohnE was able to move up four spots into a tie for fifth for most of the day. He would finish tied with Adam for sixth once the lead card finished the round. Zach Melton started the day in third place and was unable to stave off Zackeriath's push, so he settled for fourth place.
Tour Standings Update
Paul McBeth's victory this weekend represents his fourth victory of the season on the Disc Golf Pro Tour. His victory gives him a 100+ Tour Point lead with Ricky's absence from the event. Kevin's second place finish moved him up to 5th in Tour Points with three events left in the season. Adam Hammes's sixth-place tie helps him maintain his top 8 Tour Point standing. At the Tour Championship cut-off, 32 for the MPO is Thomas Gilbert who moved into that position with an 8th place finish this weekend. Make plans to tune in to watch the Idlewild Open July 26-28th; it's bound to be just as exciting!
The Discraft Great Lakes Open has come to a close for the FPO division, and the race for first was not even close. Starting the day with a seven throw lead, Paige Pierce was able to seal the win early.
Paige started the day four down through the first six holes while the rest of the lead card only was able to make two down. Gaining two throws on the field gave Paige a nine throw advantage going into the back nine. At that point, she was able to put her play on autopilot to bring home the victory. When asked about how it felt Paige said she was able to minimize mistakes on the course which was her key to victory. Paige had said earlier in the weekend a -6 was the round players would need to win. When asked how she felt about landing the -5 today and not quite getting to the -6 goal she said that it still felt great and she was glad to bring home the win. With this win Paige was able to increase her Pro Tour Standings lead, she had the following to say "It felt great, I'm really focused on player of the year and this improves my chances. I feel good about my game going into Worlds."
With the victory in hand for Paige, the race became all about second place. Lisa Fajkus was able to move into the under par category after hole three and added a second throw under with a birdie on hole four as well. With the second birdie, Lisa had caught Catrina and was in a tie for second place. Catrina would then struggle through the middle of the course having enough bogeys to offset her birdies as she moved to the back nine. Catrina's struggles meant Lisa had a grip on second place by one through for seven holes until hole 13 where a two throw swing moved Catrina back into the second place position. The battle heated up as Lisa would birdie fourteen while Catrina pared, bringing it back to a tie. On fifteen Catrina would regain the lead with a birdie, and the race was on to see who could finish in second. Catrina was able to hold on to second for two holes until she had to take a bogey on 17, and Lisa was able to snag a par after being in a good position on her upshot. The bogey/par switch provided a tie ball game going into hole 18. With a nasty rollaway putt on hole 18, Lisa would end up having to settle for a bogey and ending the tournament in third place. Catrina's easy par elevated her to a second place finish.
The Toboggan course showed its teeth for many of the players this year at the Discraft Great Lakes Open; we will see how they fare on the Idlewild course July 26-28th. Make plans to tune in and watch!
Day two, moving day, at the Discraft Great Lakes Open has come to a close. JohnE McCray made some moves. Six birdies in a row pulled him onto the lead card for a brief moment before later playing player surpassed his total while he watched from the clubhouse. His 11 down, the hot round of the day, ended up moving him up 29 spots. His putter was on fire — three out of four from Circle 2. 100% in C1X. Moving day, indeed.
The lead card battle was a sight to behold as Paul McBeth carded seven birdies on the first nine holes which were reminiscent of his record-setting 18 down 2nd round from 2018. Overtaking everyone on the lead card, and earning himself a one-stroke lead going into the back nine, we could not help but wonder if anything could stop him. A couple of weeks ago at Ledgestone, McBeth birdied the last ten holes to win the tournament going away. That was not to happen at DGLO. At least not in round 2.
Kevin Jones, after missing a couple of opportunities to close, put the putter to the metal and birdied six of the last eight holes. Asked about the beginning of his round, Kevin responded, "I noticed McBeth was on fire, but the putter was actually working okay. I missed two or three C1 putts, but I answered them quickly and was able to come back from there." He left himself a total of two C2 putts, hitting one. His C1X putting was suspect, but when you give yourself enough opportunities, eventually you break through. Asked about how he feels going into tomorrow Kevin said, "I feel really good about my odds. If I do this again, it is going to be hard to catch me. I am going to go out there and stack up the birdies." Kevin took advantage of an uncharacteristic string of pars by McBeth to build a two-stroke lead coming into the final hole. Both players drove into Circle 2, and we were ready for these two Goliath's to set the stage. McBeth drained his 50 footer to put the pressure on Jones. Kevin missed, and the lead was down to one with one round to go. Last year Kevin Jones went into the final round of Idlewild with a lead.
Comparing tomorrow to day three of Idlewild last year Kevin had the following to say, "I feel like I am where I belong. I feel comfortable being on the top card because I belong there. Last year I may have rushed the moment, this year I am concentrating on playing my game. To close we honed in on the comment "rush the moment" and Kevin provided the following insight, "Any pro disc golfer knows what I mean. Whenever we are in a pressure situation, we need to think about the task at hand, not the pressure. When we feel the pressure, we want to rush the moment. We think about the pressure while we go through our routine and then when our routine is complete, we are not ready to throw. I'm much better at this now. Not perfect, but much better."
The stage is set.
Zach Melton and Anthony Barela join them on the lead card and sit four and five back respectively. This is going to be a thrilling final round! Make plans to tune in tomorrow at 3 PM ET to watch the final round of the Discraft Great Lakes Open.
With day two in the books for Discraft's Great Lakes Open, the play was stellar as the rain held off for the morning round. Starting the day hot, Catrina Allen birdied four of the first six holes. She was able to close the gap between her and Paige Pierce to three strokes through 14 holes. This gap was a manageable deficit. Come back tomorrow, hit your lines, drop some C2 putts, and this is anyone's event to win. Then Paige Pierce closed it out. She birdied four of the last six holes including a basket hit on hole 15, missing another ESPN moment by inches. Except for an off-target drive on 18 which hit the OB wall to stay in, she was flawless to close out the round.
After Paige's four down, Lisa Fajkus had the second-best round with a two under. When asked about her chances to win, Lisa Fajkus replied, "I'm eight shots behind Paige [Pierce} with one round to go. I have a good shot at second." She went on to explain that Paige can be caught but implied that the field, which is seven or more strokes behind, would need some help. The exciting thing about tomorrow is that Paige Pierce does not know how to play safe golf and we would fully expect her to come out guns blazing and look to put this one away as early as possible.
Sarah Hokom (2nd) and Jessica Weese (4th) were the only other players to shoot under par on moving day. Sarah did it by taking what the course gave her, carding two birdies and one par. She was 100% in C1X and put herself in a great position to be on the lead card and attack for first if there is an opportunity. Jessica Weese had trouble with the putter but gave herself many more chances at birdie, carding four of them on the day. Ellen Widboom started with birdies on two of the first three holes, but let it go carding three bogeys down the stretch. She joins Madison Walker and Holly Finley on the chase card.
Paige Bjerkaas shot two down and moved up 12 spots. A couple of years ago, it was rare even to have 12 women in an event, so this demonstrates the tremendous growth and support we have seen on the women's side. Good luck to everyone tomorrow, the Toboggan can tighten things up, but if someone is going to challenge for first, they may need some help from Paige Pierce as well as a scorching start.
The race for third in Tour Points
With three events to go after DGLO, the race for third, which gets a bye into the semifinals at the Tour Championship, is heating up. Jessica Weese and Sarah Hokom both find themselves ahead of Rebecca Cox and Paige Bjerkaas at the event, while the opposite is true in Tour Points standings. There is more than just a title on the line in tomorrow's final round.
Get ready to watch, nice and early. Sunday's round will go live at 8:30 Eastern. All tee times are being bumped forward 30 minutes due to the expected weather that is coming in tomorrow afternoon.
Discraft's Great Lakes Open MPO Round One Recap - Players outlast weather delays to shoot double digits under parRead Now
After nearly 12 hours since the first tee time of day one of the Discraft Great Lakes Open all cards from the MPO division are in the clubhouse. The hot rounds of the day came from across multiple tee times and a variety of styles of players. Outside of the competition, lightning was the name of the game today. At 2:57, lightning struck within seven miles of the course as part of a pop-up shower and so play was delayed for thirty minutes. With a restart of 3:27 play was able to resume for an hour before another delay held up play for an hour as a second storm blew north of the course. Worth noting, the course did not see a drop of rain during the delays. However, safety is key, and players were able to seek shelter until it was safe to play again.
Young Gun Anthony Barela came into the clubhouse soon after the first thirty-minute weather delay. He only had two holes to finish after the delay. After taking a par on 17 he was able to land a birdie on 18 to move to -11. He carded a 100% Scramble and C1x putting percentage for the day. Anthony was also 67% from C2 which put him in the top five in C2 putting today. He will be looking to maintain the double-digits under par tomorrow as he makes his way onto the lead card with today's performance.
Coming into tournament central four cards after Anthony was Calvin Heimburg who finished two throws less than Barela with a -9 round. One area of improvement for Calvin will be his putting where he was only 20% from C2 and 67% from C1X today. Calvin was unable to make the lead card tomorrow due to the stellar play of a few other players you may have heard about before, including two from today's live card.
Before we get to today's live card though we need to talk about the second double-digit round of the day which came from Chris Clemons, the lefty from Kansas City was able to card his -10 thanks to a late push which came after the lightning delay where he birdied the last five holes of the day. Chris's 100% C1x putting is what helped him move up to his second-place position when he came into the clubhouse. Chris's sole second-place spot was not there for long as Kevin Jones charged up on the live card to move into a tie with Chris on hole sixteen. Kevin would proceed to par hole seventeen after a drive into the rough. Kevin showed why he should be on the feature card today with a stunning performance which was very similar to his performance last year during day one.
Speaking of the live card, there were plenty of fireworks today as fan favorites Nathan Queen and Willie Prince were shooting hot early on the live card. After the second weather delay, the hot hands switched to Kevin and Willie who spent most of the middle of the course going shot-for-shot grabbing birdies where they could. Willie would cool off during the back-nine of the course, and Kevin Jones turned it on, birdieing six of the last nine to finish in a tie with Chris Clemons. Kevin shot a 52 round one both last year and this year. With the changes to par, we were interested to see how Kevin felt about this year compared to the previous year. He said, "This year I'm more where I'm supposed to be, last year was more of shoot hot and get on the lead card." We followed up by asking how he dealt with the lightning delays, and he said, "it was really about just staying in a good headspace. I spent most of the time in my car, on the phone, making sure I stayed in a good place."
Last but not least, Paul McBeth started slowly going only -4 during the first nine holes. After the lightning delays, he was finally able to get back into a rhythm, and by the time he made it to hole 14, he realized he needed to birdie out to make it onto the lead card for day two. When asked if he knew he needed to birdie the last hole, he replied, "yeah, I knew I needed to get the last four. It was tough, but I was able to pull it off."
It was a very long day at the Discraft Great Lakes Open, but there are still two days left of great competition to figure out who the winner will be. On the live card will be tournament leader Anthony Barela, followed by Chris Clemons, Kevin Jones, and Paul McBeth. Make plans to tune in and watch live starting at 3:30 PM ET!
Round One is in the books for the FPO division at Discraft's Great Lakes Open, and the scores were just as hot as the weather at the Toboggan course. After round one under par was where you wanted to be as only the players on tomorrow's lead card finished under par for the day. With an early tee time, Paige Pierce was able to set the pace early.
After the round, Paige confided that she played the course blind. She said she had played the course five or six years ago, but with the changes, it was definitely different. Paige started the day -4 through four and was able to hold those four birdies in her back pocket throughout the round and finish -4 on the day. Paige credited her success to being able to watch coverage from last year to help prepare for the event.
Also under par for the day was Catrina Allen and Madison Walker. Madison Walker was on the first card of the day and took advantage of the low humidity to land her under par round. At -1 for the day, Madison finished four throws better than her performance last year on day one. She accomplished this feat by only taking one bogey on the par three hole eight and cleaning up birdies on holes three and sixteen. Last year Madison failed to land a birdie on day one showing she was able to make some adjustments from last year to increase her scoring odds.
Catrina Allen did her scoring today on the front nine. She was able to land two birdies on holes three and eight to help offset her bogey on hole six and stay under par. Catrina was the only one to get the birdie on hole eight while the two other players under par for the day in the FPO division both bogeyed the hole. Hole eight could be a prime place for her to make up more throws tomorrow on the field.
Rounding on the lead card tomorrow will be last year's champion Sarah Hokom. Sarah broke the tie at even with Holly Finley and Ellen Widboom based on her PDGA number to make it onto tomorrow's lead card. Sarah had two birdies on the front nine early (holes two and three) before she settled into par golf for much of the middle of the round. She would get tripped up with two bogeys on 12 and 14 to move her to even par.
Holly and Ellen both had their shares of birdies and bogeys today as Ellen bookended her bogeys on holes seven and twelve with birdies on six and sixteen. Holly had a birdie early on hole three but would give it back on hole seven before parring out for the day.
Rounding out tomorrow's chase card will be Jessica Weese and Lisa Fajkus. Jessica shot the hot round day one last year. She was on pace to do the same early today going four down through the first five holes but a turkey of bogeys to finish out the day moved her down into sole ownership of seventh place. Lisa finished the day +2 after taking an early bogey on hole one, recovering with birdies on two and four but not really able to keep things together for the rest of the round.
Tomorrow's competition should be exciting to watch with plenty of players still in the mix. The women's lead card will be live at 9 AM ET and will feature Paige Pierce, Catrina Allen, Madison Walker, and Sarah Hokom so make plans to watch.
Discraft's Great Lakes Open starts tomorrow, and there is no time like the present to discuss McBeth's blistering -18 performance which took place on this very course less than a year ago. A lot of things have changed since last year in both the open division and on the course which could make a repeat performance difficult.
On the Course
Last year there were very few OB spots on the entire course with Hole 18 being the only hole with a noticeable OB hazard. This year, things have changed. With a lengthened and OB strapped hole one, the challenges added to the course come early. Two holes will see the mound separating them become OB (between holes three and thirteen) which will take away the natural bail-out spot for the booming drives which came off the top of hole three last year. OB rope is also on holes fifteen and seventeen for good measure. The only hole getting "easier" this year is hole nine which was moved back 25 feet last year for the men but will return to its original tee position for this year's contest. The 425 ft, par three, played as pretty accurate to par last year averaging 3.13 throws across all three rounds. Moving this hole up will create more scoring opportunities for those with controlled uphill distance.
This year there are nine fewer competitors in the Open field. The reduction in player numbers is due to adding more spots to the FPO field as well as a few last minute drops. The total field size is only two players less than last year. The competition will be fierce as 32% of the field is 1000 rated or better. The competitive portion of the field cannot be understated as last year the player who took second place was not even 1000 rated, showing the Toboggan course presents an equal opportunity for players across the board to score.
The two main stories from last year's competition at the Discraft Great Lakes Open centered on the aforementioned -18 carded by McBeth and the equally as stunning performance of local Willie Prince. On the final day of competition, Willie Prince stormed up from the chase card with a -14 performance. He played the front nine the same way McBeth had played it the day before, birdieing every hole and taking an eagle three on hole two. Willie will be joining Paul McBeth on the live coverage for day one.
Other competitors in the field include Calvin Heimburg who did not attend last year's event but is the second highest rated player in attendance this weekend. After starting the season hot, with a win at Las Vegas, he has cooled off with his only other Elite Series podium finish coming at San Francisco where he came in third place. While Calvin has not finished outside the top ten at National Tour events he has struggled at Pro Tour stops so it will be interesting to see how he navigates the hills of the Toboggan course this weekend.
The next two highest rated players in the field this weekend are Kevin Jones and Andrew Fish. Last year Kevin made the lead card for the second round of the tournament but was not able to keep up with McBeth's -18 pace and ultimately dropped six spots on the second day but was still able to finish in a tie for 7th place. Andrew Fish is playing the Discraft Great Lakes Open for the first time. A regional Pro from Maryland, Andrew has a handful of A-Tier wins under his belt but is still chasing the elusive Elite Series win (or podium finish). Andrew dominated the podium at Iron Hill before the event becoming an NT, so he has cut his chops on some challenging courses. It will be interesting to see how he takes on the Toboggan course this weekend.
Also on the registration list is last year's third-place finisher Nikko Locastro. His finish last year at this event was his best Pro Tour finish during the regular season. Outside of the MVP Open where he finished 8th, it was also his only finish inside the top 10 last season. Nikko has missed a few more events than he did last season and this season he is averaging over 20 spots worse in finishing position, but maybe the Toboggan course will carry some magic to help him get his season back on track.
Finally, just like last year had Willie Prince who made a push towards unseating Paul, this year a storied Pro will be making a push to upstage Paul two weekends in a row. Last weekend at the CCR Open Garrett Gurthie came from behind during the final round to best Paul McBeth by two throws. On the heels of his first National Tour victory in May, Garrett could also be hitting his stride and be ready for his first Disc Golf Pro Tour victory as well. If he can overcome his 24th place performance from last year, he could be able to challenge McBeth this weekend.
It is clear that there is not a shortage of talent in this year's DGLO tournament. The question remains will one of the other 42 1000+ rated players step up to challenge McBeth, or are we destined to see another repeat victory for the McBeast? You can tune in to watch live starting tomorrow, July 5th at 3:30 PM ET on the Disc Golf Pro Tour YouTube channel. CentralCoastDiscGolf will be providing the edited MPO Feature and Lead card coverage this weekend to make sure to tune in to watch for their videos coming down the pipeline. This is an event you will not want to miss!
It is almost time for Discraft's Great Lakes Open and the competition this year is shaping up to be stronger than last year. Last year only nine women rated over 900 competed in a field of 28 players. This year with the field expanded to 35 players, 21 of those competitors have a rating above 900. A shifting field has led to the potential of closer competition for the top of the leaderboard and an opportunity for players who were not in attendance at last years event to potentially take the place at the top of the podium.
Last year the tournament was won by Sarah Hokom who at the time was rated 961, was the highest rated player in the FPO division a full 20 points ahead of the next closest competitor. She was able to easily bring home the win besting Paige Bjerkaas who brought home second place by six throws. Sarah is aware that last year may have been an anomaly but she is not shifting her gameplan with the inundation of new players in the field, "I am aware that Paige and Catrina's absence last year may have factored in to my win. But, whether they are here or not, I'll be playing MY game. I'm not going to try to pull off crazy shots to match their distance. I will rely on my accuracy and experience to keep me in the hunt..."
The event was Paige Bjerkaas's first outright 2nd place finish at a Pro Tour stop and came right around the time where she made her decision to tour full time and not return to school in the fall of 2018. Paige had the following to say about last year's performance, "Well actually, it was Ledgestone last year where I made my decision. But DGLO was important as well. After DGLO, my touring partner was going home and I didn’t know if I should do one more stint before the school year or just head to Emporia to get some hours in at work and prepare for the school year. I told myself depending on the outcome of the tournament, I’ll do that extra leg or not. I ended playing really well and surprised myself. Coming down the stretch of the final round, Jessica Weese was catching up to me. We were battling for 2nd place since Hokom had a HOT second round and had a 6 stroke leading going into the final round. After a couple clutch drives and upshots, I was able to hold her off. Being able to play well under the pressure was something I haven’t experienced before. After that round, I knew I had to continue. I felt like I belonged on the road. I’m definitely excited to play it again this year and try to make a run for the title! " Paige will start the tournament on the live feature card Friday thanks to her second place finish so make sure to tune in to watch and see if she is able to make that push.
This year both Catrina Allen and Paige Pierce are in the line-up for the tournament after missing the stop last season. This weekend will be Catrina Allen's first time to play the event since her win in 2016. It should be noted that Allen's 2016 victory did not take place on the storied Toboggan course but instead took place on two other courses in Michigan. Paige Pierce is returning to the event for the first time since 2013 when the tournament was played in Ann Arbor, MI and she took second place to Sarah Hokom. Both players are at the top of their games right now. They are in a race to see who will bring home the season-long points victory this year, trading first and second place finishes at each stop except one (this is where there first dropped stop of tour points helps to clear the water). Currently, it is advantage Paige coming off the Ledgestone victory Paige Pierce has three first-place Pro Tour victories to Catrina's two. The one win advantage gives Paige a 15 point Pro Tour Standings lead over Catrina.
Moving into the second half of the season it is time to start thinking Tour Point standings, and you can bet the players will have this in the back of their minds as they jockey for position this weekend.
Back at the beginning of the article, we mentioned how last year there were only nine 900+ rated players in the field. This year some of the increase can be attributed to players who were under 900 last year moving above 900. Lauren Butler, Sarah DeMar, and Alisha Grace-Schafer have all increased their ratings and will each be a force to be reckoned with on the course this weekend. Last year Lauren Butler finished two spots outside of cash and will be looking to use her noted increase in skills to make it above the cash line this weekend. Sarah DeMar is a local pro who has been playing the event off and on for years and was able to bring home a 7th place finish last year. She is a player you can expect to make another top ten finish this year even in a stronger field given her proximity to the course and the skills she displayed last year at the event.
Other players who finished inside the top ten at this event last year include Rebecca Cox who is currently third in Tour Points and Jessica Weese who is 5th in Tour Points. Rebecca will be looking to improve upon last year's 6th place finish while Jessica will be hoping to maintain or surpass her 3rd place performance from last season. Another player in the mix will be last year's 4th place finisher Ellen Widboom. Ellen has taken a step back from the tour life this year opting to play events centered around visiting friends and family. While this has led to a decrease in time spent playing this has not led to a decline in skill. We would hope to see Ellen inside the top ten again this year and possibly make a run at the title even with a stronger competitive field.
This year is shaping up to be the most competitive Great Lakes Open in the FPO field. Between last year's top two contenders in Sarah Hokom and Paige Bjerkaas and this year's leading competitors Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen, it is anyone's guess as to who will come out with the victory. Some would give the advantage to the players who have played the course (Sarah and Paige B.) while others would give the edge to the two players battling for it all (Paige P. and Catrina). Sarah Hokom had the following to say in this regard, "I have played this course many, many times.... even before last year, so I think that will definitely be an advantage. However, Paige, Cat and a handful of others are really talented golfers, so it will be a battle, regardless of how many times one may have played the course prior." That is why you should make plans to tune in and watch Discraft's Great Lakes Open live July 5-7th at 10:30 AM ET. Post-Production coverage of the feature and lead card will be provided by GK Productions and released July 17-19th.
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