GMC Open - FPO R3 - Process. Relax. Hope.
The round was cold, wet and windy. Kristin Tattar started the day five shots behind Sarah Hokom. After two holes, Kristin was one down (with a huge 50 footer), Sarah was one up (with a two-putt on hole 1). The lead was now down to a manageable three strokes. In the first two holes it appeared Sarah was set-up for a ride on the struggle bus. Two 30ft putts later on holes four and five and she had straightened things out, rebuilding her lead to five. Sarah would keep it on cruise control picking up two birdies the rest of the way out, finishing with the hot round, one-under-par and taking a six-stroke lead into the final nine.
Through nine, Hailey King and Rebecca Cox had fallen back and Paige Pierce had cooled down. Sarah showed resolve on day three as she continued to play solid, hitting 80% of her C1X putts and scrambling to card 3 of 4 par saves. Kristin’s putting was spot on with 100% C1X and adding in a C2 putt for good measure. This consistent play gave her a few strokes on third and started to separate her and Sarah from the field.
Over the course of the round, Sarah Hokom had fewer birdies than anyone else on the lead card. Only one person in the top ten had fewer birdies. In fact, Paige Pierce had more birdies on the final three holes of the round. But Sarah avoided bogeys, carding only one bogey on hole 2. On her hand, Sarah had written her round reminders. Process. Relax. Hope.
“It always feels good to be under par on this course. There are so many trees. Conditions were a lot tougher today as the wind gusted and stopped. I had an early bogey but I threw two bad shots and that’s what happens. It is a toss-up between my Relay and Crave between which one was my go to disc. They are so straight and easy to control. It was basically point and shoot.”
Sarah Hokom’s focus today was trusting in her routines. Saying to herself, “set-up for your shots correctly, let your body do its thing, you’ve practiced this thousands of times.” She successfully let her muscles work like she has trained them to work.
At times, lining up a thirty footer, you could see Sarah Hokom breathe out. Exhale. Relax the mind and the body. She left herself two C1 edge putts twice in a row on the front nine and drained them both. Nice and easy. Over 70% C1X putting each of the first two rounds, better than her average. You got this. Breathe.
After a tough drive on hole 6 left her about 300’ through tight woods without the benefit of a tee or fairway, Sarah put a pured an anhyzer flick. It gently banked right, right before smashing into a series of trees on the right side of her tight line. It then hyzered out and nestled about five feet from the pin. On hole 15, she contorted her body to have a look from off the fairway. She had a 140’ sharp left to right. 140’ later, her hyzer flick hit the elevated basket for a drop in par save. Trust your discs to do what they do and hope for the best.
Process. Relax. Hope. Sarah did these things and she goes into Round 4 up by six. When asked about the three words written on her hand, Sarah explained, “Relax part because I get uptight when I’m on live. Hope is especially useful in the woods. Keep a positive mind frame. Process reminds me to say my keywords in my head. I also have a smiley face because we are playing frisbee.”
Rounding out the lead card are Kristin Tattar, Rebecca Cox and Hailey King. Kristin has the best chance to catch Sarah, but will need a hot start to put pressure on Sarah early. She has been putting well and has the distance to make up ground on the longer Fox Run course. Krstin told Madison Walker after the round, “I love touring in the United States. There are so many different courses. Today, I did not feel confident about my forehands. I am hoping it will not be that windy again tomorrow. It was not windy in practice so I may go practice Fox Run in the wind this afternoon.” Hailey King and Rebecca Cox have been getting more consistent over the season and it will be fun to see these two battle for third and try to catch Kristin.
Paige Pierce finished one stroke off the lead card and had a very inconsistent round. After starting with six pars, she carded one par over the last 12 holes. The big issue for Paige was her inability to scramble (20%). Paige will look to improve on her current fifth-place position, but a miracle comeback, as she did here in 2017 from the chase card, is probably a bit too much to ask this year.
Holly FInley, who moved up five spots, said, “I had a lot of fun on Brewster Ridge today. I’m an official Wisconsinite. I absolutely love playing in the woods and I needed to pick up the slack today. It is really my strong suit. I put on my power lipstick for an extra confidence boost and it worked out. Tomorrow I am going to be more conservative and play it safe. I’m shooting for a par finish.”
Missy Gannon told AJ Risley after the round, “I started off really well and got a birdie on one of the big par 4s. Caught another birdie on hole 9 and faltered a little bit on the back nine. Tomorrow I need to throw every shot confidently and remember that I can do this.”
An interesting side note is the revised FPO Tour Championship schedule. The number of women qualifying has been increased to 16 and the number of women getting byes to the Semifinals was increased from three to four. Rebecca Cox is just two points behind Jessica Weese in Tour Standings for that fourth spot. If Rebecca can stay a couple of positions ahead of Jessica, she will jump into fourth place in Tour Points and get a bye into the Tour Championship Semifinals. There is an extra reason to watch the final round.
Round 4 of Discraft’s Green Mountain Championship presented by Grip EQ starts Sunday morning at 9:00 AM Eastern.
While preparing for the second round of the Discraft’s Green Mountain Championship presented by Grip EQ, Sarah Hokom’s partner and caddy suffered a seizure. A friend drove him to the hospital and Sarah hokom was left to try and regain her focus. Sarah explained her actions before the round started, "Deep breathing, trying to relax, compartmentalizing and support from my card mates is how I got through it."
And get through it she did. With temperatures in the low 50s and the wind gusting to 15 mph, it was a cold and windy day and the OB laden Fox Run course stood in front of the players. Sarah explains her strategy, "I was trying to play the easiest possible shot. I was going for par, wanting to avoid the OB as much as possible. For example, on hole 17 I know I can get a good drive to give myself a circle 2 look. But I felt more comfortable doing a couple chop hyzers and making sure I got the par and not bringing OB into play."
After carding the par on hole seven, Sarah Hokom was two under par. Hailey King was the only other player under par. The cold and the wind did a number on the FPO field, especially on Hole 7, the first ultra long and open hole on the Fox Run course. Over 70% of the players went OB at least once and many went OB multiple times. Hokom’s game plan of playing in control and only taking what the course gives you served her well. Through the front nine, she had taken the lead and was in cruise control, leading Jessica Weese and Rebecca Cox by five.
Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen, the #1 and #2 power ranked players, who are always in contention, found themselves ten and eleven strokes out respectively with nine holes left in the second round. Paige had a tough start carding the double on hole 4 as well as a bogey on hole 6. She then turned the page on those scores and carded birdies on holes 7 and 8, the only player to do so. Through the front nine, she found herself ten strokes behind Hokom, but with over two rounds to go, we cannot count her out. Catrina Allen struggled with her C1X putting as well as keeping the disc in bounds. She has the skills to make a run but so far at this event has not shown the fire necessary to do so.
Said Paige, "Pretty tough round out there in the wind so lots of bogeys came. Overall it went all right." When asked if she had a different mindset on the more open Fox Run course versus yesterday's round at Brewster Ridge, Paige replied, "I wasn't hitting my lines yesterday in the woods. It's tight and if you miss your line in the woods the disc doesn't continue to fly. At Fox Run, even if you miss your line, you still get the forward progress. I was trying not to think too much about that and just play my tee shots better today."
And then there was Kristin Tattar. Through 11 holes, she had thrown out of bounds four times and was having serious trouble managing the winds. As they came down the stretch though, Sarah Hokom started to hiccup (bogeys on holes 12 & 13) and Kristin started to play very consistent golf.
On hole 11, Kristin drained a 50-footer to save bogey. From that point on she was ice in the wind, going one under par and gaining three strokes on Sarah to close out the round. At one point, it looked like Sarah and her cautious approach to the round were going to run away with this. Kristin demonstrated that, at the halfway point, this match is anybody's to win.
Hailey King bogeyed three of the last five holes ending two over par for the round. It was good enough to move her onto the lead card and it shows how good her start was as she birdied two of the first six holes. She ended the day just two shots worse than Sarah Hokom's hot round.
Rebecca Cox rounds out the lead card. She shot the hot round yesterday and finds herself eight strokes back after carding seven OB strokes and shooting 44% from C1X. She will need to improve both of these numbers to climb back up the leaderboard. There is plenty of golf to play and she has the skills. Only time will tell if she is able to get back on top.
As we closed out the interview, Sarah Hokom jokingly referred to the Nantucket Open, "I think it helped to play in Hurricane Dorian last week." The Green Mountain Championship is halfway done oh, the competitors have seen both courses, and there is plenty of golf to play. Will Sarah Hokom build on her lead or will she fall back to the crowd for yet another exciting finish at Smuggler's Notch?
Best wishes to Robin, Sarah Hokom’s partner and caddy on a safe and full recovery.
Make plans to watch Round 3 of Discraft’s Green Mountain Championship presented by Grip EQ tomorrow at 9:30 AM Eastern.
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
This sport we love, disc golf, is flourishing. We are nowhere close to reaching a cultural saturation point where our community stops growing. Every year, more people start playing and once people start throwing, in my opinion, you’d be hard press to find someone who just stopped playing altogether. It’s a sport that you can immerse yourself in or just dabble, if it’s fun for you, then it’s right for you. But, throughout the history of our sport, it’s often been mostly his story. By which, I mean no disrespect to the legendary women in our sport – quite the contrary, I think your accomplishments deserve more accolade and attention than they’ve received. Whether you’re out for a casual round, at your local C-Tier or right on up to the biggest stops of the year, you’re likely to run into mostly men. Whether anecdotally or by the numbers, the fact remains: disc golf is a male-dominated sport. But it doesn’t have to be.
So amidst all this growth for our whole community, we here at the Pro Tour are bowled over with excitement to see how much the women’s fields are growing at our events this year. Last year people, across numerous teams, poured hard work and love into growing the women’s disc golf community – Danielle Charlier, Addy Maxwell, Becca Kephard and the PDGA. Our sincere hope was those investments would yield returns in the form of more women at every event. After looking at the player registration for the first few Pro Tour events I think it’s safe to say we owe a tremendous amount of thanks to the people mentioned above, all of the women playing on the tour, and so many more, it worked.
For comparison’s sake: In 2018 the memorial had 26 women, in 2019 it will be 30. Four players may not seem like a lot but that’s an entire extra card in a field that only had six cards last year. At the 2018 Waco Annual Charity Open there were 16 players, only four cards, in 2019 the field is increasing by 50% at least with 24 women registered and two more on the waitlist now. The Jonesboro Open registration capped at 15 spots last year and this year. That cap had to be increased and the registration has almost doubled to 27 for this year. This growth in the women’s division lines up perfectly with the growth of our media plan and coverage of FPO.
Last year, for the hour before the live stream would start each evening, you could catch all of the women’s lead card shot-by-shot action. This year we will be bringing two camera live coverage of the women’s lead card as well as additional play from chase cards so we don’t miss a beat when someone is making a charge for the top. We will also have a next day edited rounds with the full complement of throw, catch, and slow-motion camera operators.
All that to say, the 2019 Pro Tour is gearing up to be the most competitive it’s ever been and we think it’s important that you get a chance to see all of it. We owe a huge thanks to the PDGA for all of their efforts to grow the women’s game, particular their support with the Women’s Initiative Grant. Without them these steps would not be possible. We really think you’ll love the increased coverage that we are giving the women’s game. Lastly, this feels like it should go without saying, but if you are a woman who throws and you’re ready to challenge some of the hardest and most iconic courses in the country, we want you on the tour. So when we come through your neck of the woods make sure you make it out to watch what promises to be a battle of champions every time.
This article written by Staff Editor & Writer Zach Podhorzer. All photo credit to Alyssa Van Lanen.
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