The Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs has generated a playoff for first in the men’s division every year it’s been on the Pro Tour; both years including Jeremy Koling. More than likely, for the 2019 iteration he’s going to have to do better than he has done in the past. In 2017, he threw a total -34 and won in a playoff against James Conrad. In 2018, he did one worse at -33 and had to best Nate Perkins in a playoff to win again. Koling threw better than his rating in every round it took to clench to victory, topping out each year at 1056. With the number of rounds coming in closer to 1100 this year, it seems unlikely averaging in the 1030-1040 range will be able to get him a hat trick of WACO wins.
In both 2017 and 2018, the playoffs started and ended on the wide open but incredibly narrow OB lines of hole 15. 558 feet of precision, a road on the left and a fence on the right, there are almost no trees. In the absence of trees to block your shots the fairway is littered with obstacles that can make for some awkward lies. In both years it was the OB road that dealt the fatal blow to Conrad and Perkins. In 2017 James’ backhand fade filtered left and nearly rolled back up the curb before it came to rest at almost Circle 2 but still OB. Perkins drew a more unfortunate card. His forehand flipped a bit more than he likely had planned for as it drifted over the far side of the road but began to fade back when it caught a spectator in the back. Koling kept it cool through both playoffs, trusting his smooth forehand to connect for all he needed – a birdie in 2017 and a par in 2018.
All three pros are going to have to heat it up this year since none of them have even touched the top 10 on the Pro Tour or National Tour in 2019. That may be the result of the courses we’ve played so far favoring the power player over the precise player. They can all throw plenty far but between Jerm and Nate’s lawn-dart forehands and James’ proficiency in the woods don’t be surprised to see them further up the leaderboard on a course like Brazos East. Through the ~8000’ par 67 the most important skills that the pros will be tested on is placement and scramble. The open portions of the course aren’t easy but they don’t yield the same spread of the woodland par 4s and 5s. Those monsters can be as generous as an eagle and as nasty as a quintuple-bogey. WACO might even be the event that brings the most complex and devastating risk-reward decisions of the tour.
So who’s it going to be? Will Koling repeat? Will Perkins or Conrad come back for what they almost had? Will we see another buttery woods slayer sneak through for a win? Or will the big arms from wins in the west ride their 2019 momentum to another win? And where are the contemporary legends? Will Paul McBeth or Ricky Wysocki make their appearance on the winners' stage? It's a lot of questions and there's only one way to get the answers: watching every round of the 2019 Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs live (or post-produced the next day too!). Until then go throw your whole bag at the narrowest gap on your course, then you'll be ready for WACO!
This article written by Staff Editor and Writer Zach Podhorzer. All photography credit to Alyssa Van Lanen.
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