Here’s what we know right now, Paige Peirce, at 3-under par with a 53, is leading the FPO division by 5 strokes as the only player in her division to throw under par. None of
the MPO players are lucky enough to have so comfortable of a cushion. After the first 18 holes of the Memorial Championship Presented by Discraft we have a three-way tie, at 11 under par, between Nathan Sexton, Simon Lizotte, and Eagle McMahon. Let’s put these leaders in context though – it might be smart to play the game one throw at a time, but every throw is part of a larger story.
Last year, after day one at Fountain hills, Pierce trailed 2016 DGPT Champion Catrina Allen by four strokes. After 9 holes today, Allen had the makings of a comfortable lead two strokes ahead of Pierce. That lead crumbled rapidly in the back 9 when Allen hit trouble on 13, shockingly carding an 8 on the 295 ft. par 3. In 2016 there were only five competitors within ten strokes of the leader. In 2017, Pierce has a cushion, but there are 10 players within 10 strokes and plenty golf left to play. This year’s tournament is of to a very different start from last years. One filled with the promise of heated competition. Can anyone catch Pierce?
Two quick shout outs to FPO players making their mark. First, to Lisa Fajkus out of Round Rock, TX for making the chase card tied for sixth in her Memorial Championship Presented by Discraft debut with a solid 61, 5 over par. Second, Jessica Weese, also tied for sixth, may not have thrown the hot round of the day but she did throw the most birdies. After a rough start, Weese showed she wouldn’t let stumbles get in her head, carding five birdies on the day. Keep that up, stay in bounds, play smart and Weese could very well see herself on the lead card after the second round.
The MPO competition could not get hotter. Not only are there three players tied for the lead, but there are fifteen players within three strokes of the lead. Unexpectedly, all of them stand between last year’s Memorial Championship Presented by Discraft Champion, Paul McBeth, who is currently 4 strokes behind the lead, at 7 under par. Paul is tied for 19th with a three time winner of this tournament, Dave Feldberg. Last year after the first round, McBeth and Nikko Locastro were tied for first at 13 under par, Lizotte one behind them, Sexton only two off the lead, and Eagle McMahon wasn’t even playing.
McBeth is far from out of the running though, we got a wiff of McBeast mode last weekend when Paul threw eight birdies, an eagle and an ace in the final round of the 2017 Gentlemen’s Club Challenge. If McBeth wants a fifth win here in Arizona he’ll need to turn it up to catch Lizotte and McMahon who lead the pack with 13 birdies and 2 bogeys each. Oh, and Sexton? he’s reminding all of us you don’t have to throw the most birdies to card the hot round, you can save yourself the drama and throw a bogey free round with 11 birdies.
Before I go, a quick shameless round of lefty love for Devan Owens and Zach Melton. Two of the best lefties in the game, they are tied for 14th at 8 under par, only three strokes off the lead. Owens had a strong putt outside the circle, canning three of the five he took from circle two. Melton was perfect inside the circle, making 100% of the 17 putts he took to tie perhaps the greatest putter in the game Ricky Wysocki. Owens and Melton will be playing on the same card tomorrow, a sight a southpaw like myself can only dream of.
Stay tuned as the story unfolds after the second round of the 2017 Memorial Championship Presented by Discraft at the beautiful Fiesta Lakes in Mesa, Arizona. The weather looks like it will be remaining just about perfect with the possibility of some light winds as the day goes on. That shouldn’t be a problem for the top pros, I’m sure they’re all carrying the right discs for the throw. As always though, the question will be who can get their head in the game and the disc in the chains.
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