Since the Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs joined the Pro Tour in 2017 the FPO field has gotten increasingly competitive and the MPO field has delivered us two playoffs. On the women’s side, Paige Pierce is the no surprise repeat winner of the 2017 and 2018 iterations. While on the men’s side Jeremy “Big Jerm” Koling walked away the victor after both playoffs (first with James Conrad in 2017, and second with Nate Perkins in 2018). The beauty of WACO is the diversity of skills required to win at Brazos East, which remains quite the beast. Competitors might be comfortable with some of the more open shots after playing the Memorial two weeks earlier, but the forest will be waiting. If players how to sink their talons into their share of the over $37,000 purse then they’ll need to channel their inner Goshawk.
Take hole 9 (listed at 15 on UDisc due to the players starting on what is usually hole 7) for example. 591 feet of pretty much dense underbrush. I guess there’s a “fairway” but with rough like WACO it’s hard to call the fairways ‘fair’. In the final round of the 2018 WACO, this hole put up a couple of handfuls of eagle 3s and one lone 10. That's a seven throw spread on a single hole. That's really what makes this course worthy of the best players in the world. There are real rewards for those bold even to take the risks. One touch of a tree can spell disaster for an entire round. But as James Conrad showed us in 2017, you can also put up a 15 under with a bogey on the 17th hole (side note, it took eagling hole 9 too).
For Paige Pierce, 2017 was likely a more comfortable win than 2018. In 2017 she threw her lowest scoring round in the event since it joined the Pro Tour, a smooth spread of birdies and a single bogey totaling to 7 under par, as it would be, she finished 7 ahead of the pack. In 2018, it looked like Pierce had the win in the bag until a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 17th hole. All along, Sarah Hokom’s precision forehand had her in striking distance. All of a sudden, she was ahead of Pierce on the 18th tee. Hokom opted for a safe backhand play to the left of the lake; too much hyzer, a skip, and a roll carried her lay-up out of bounds. Starting from well behind the tee pad Pierce bounced right back and absolutely smashed her drive, flexing out a jump putt look at eagle. A couple of pitch ups and Hokom was in the circle. Pierce’s jumper was knocked short by the front of the cage and all Hokom needed was to make her putt and force a playoff. Alas, Hokom missed low as well, and Pierce dropped in for the win.
If past performances are any indication, then the 2019 Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs should put on quite the show. Will Koling find his way into a third straight playoff? Will last-minute multi-bogeys turn the tables again? Make sure to find out by not missing any of our live coverage (schedule below). Until then, get out there and play!
This article written by Staff Editor and Writer Zach Podhorzer. All photography credit to Alyssa Van Lanen.
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