Paul McBeth comes into the final round with an 8 stroke lead. He has successfully made this final round virtually a victory lap calling off his phenomenal inaugural season with Discraft. He is first in Pro Tour points having won six of the eight events he has played. GMC will make it seven of nine. Over the course of the Season, he has birdied 57% of the holes he has played easily topping Eagle McMahon and Ricky Wysocki who are in second and third place at 52% and 51% respectively.
He leads most of the statistics categories that UDisc tracks, including Fairway Hits, Parked Shots, and Circle 1 and Circle 2 in regulation. It is clear, this season has been a runaway success on a career littered with amazing accomplishments. It seems fitting that he would wrap up the Pro Tour season with a victory lap final round at a tournament presented by his new sponsor, Discraft.
He played three of his four rounds bogey-free, including his final two rounds, making it very difficult for anyone to make a serious charge. Without his quadruple bogey on hole 18 to finish the second round, he would be leading buy a dozen strokes over his nearest competitors. Paul is one for the ages and his performance at GMC is also one for the ages. While the end result, his first win at Smuggler's Notch, was not in doubt oh, it was still a joy to watch and celebrate his final round with him.
"It feels good to win here. These were the courses we played for World's last year and it felt good to get four good rounds in. It feels good."
The battle today would end up being for second place and it would involve five different players. With five holes left to play on the lead card, all three players on the lead card (not including McBeth) were tied at 24 down. Ricky Wysocki had fallen off the pace and was sitting at 22 down but the story at that moment was Chris Clemons.
Chris started the day with six birdies in a row and through 14 holes he was bogey free, 10 down on the day, and 26 down overall. Clemons, who was two cards ahead of the leaders, finished the day at 11 down, setting the bar that Nikko Locastro and Chris Dickerson would try to catch. Clemons commented about his round, "It feels pretty nice. It was a really good day, for sure. The first day we played here I started with three birdies so I wanted to do that again. And then I just kind of kept it going. Getting a bunch of birdies makes it easy, you throw more free, you throw with more power, bogeys don't matter when you have a bunch of birdies."
Simon Lizotte on hole 13 had a very tricky putt to the elevated basket that tickled chains and then rolled 35 feet away. He drained the comebacker for par but the irritation he felt was clear. On hole 14, his disc kicked off a tree, spiked into the ground 5 feet from the pin and backspin 40 feet away out of bounds. His par save did not work this time and, if you consider a 70 ft putt, a putt, he three-putted hole 15. After this series of holes, Simon was out of the race for second.
Dickerson would get in trouble on hole 15, miss his Circle 2 putt for par, and fall four behind Clemons with three holes to go. This left Nikko as the only person that could catch Chris Clemons. With two holes to go he needed two birdies to tie for second. Nikko-parked 17 for the birdie and was left needing the birdie on 18. His drive was way left and hyzered to the OB. It magically stuck about one foot in bounds. His approach shot to the green was wide right and settled in about two feet from the OB on the right side of the green. His fifty footer would hit the basket low and he would settle in for 3rd place completing our podium.
Co-Course designer, Steve Brinster, shot the third hottest round of the day at 8 down. "Obviously I love a lot of the shots out there. I go into the round having a game plan, knowing the shots I can attack. Today was just a good opportunity to put it all together. I was happy to execute my shots. My game felt good."
James Conrad also shot a 8 down and told Madison Walker, "I feel good. It felt good to improve over the subpar rooms on this course in round 2. I definitely improved the round primarily through not going OB. yeah I was noticing that I was 7th place coming into the tournament and it looked like a 8th and 9th could possibly pass me so I was hoping to lock in the top eight so I could go to buy into the semi-finals at the Pro Tour championships."
Congratulations to the top eight in Tour Points who will be earning a bye to the Tour Championship: Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, Simon Lizotte, Kevin Jones, Garrett Gurthie, James Conrad, Eagle McMahon, and Calvin Heimburg. There was no movement out of the top eight as James Conrad and Calvin Heimburg secured their spots with strong finishes at GMC.
The players receiving a bye to the quarterfinals (9th-16th in Tour Points) are Adam Hammes, Alex Russell, Chris Clemons (who jumped 8 spots to 11th), Matt Orum, Seppo Paju, Joel Freeman, Austin Hannum and Reid Frescura.
Emerson Keith, who did not play GMC, finished one point behind Frescura and Drew Gibson finished 1.5 points behind Reid. They will both get to play in the first round of the 2019 Tour Championships along with the next 14 players that got their tickets punched.
That’s a wrap for the regular season.
As Paul McBeth told AJ Risley after the final putt here at Smuggler’s Notch, “Just three more to go. USDGC, Hall of Fame NT finale, and the Tour Championships in Charlotte.”
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