The third stop of the Disc Golf Pro Tour is heating up at the Nick Hyde Memorial powered by Innova and Hyzerbomb. The opening round featured Simon Lizotte, fresh off a win at The Open at Temple, Alex Ferreira the winner of this year’s Texas Amateur Championship, Jesse Dalton from Team Hyzerbomb, and the legend Barry Schultz with over two-hundred career wins under his belt.
As a fan of disc golf, watching the veteran Barry Schultz keep pace with Simon Lizotte through the first four holes was a reason to appreciate the sport of disc golf. Barry, with his smooth, rather than aggressive style, showed why he has achieved the notoriety, as well as the trophies, throughout his career. When it came to approaching the basket, Barry pushed the limits of his putter, perhaps because he witnessed the young bucks draining some long distance putts. Whatever the motivation, Barry Schultz suffered from some bad breaks today with the disc not flying lucky and carding an eight under par for the day. On the bright side, he showed his ability to play along side any competitor in the game today, which begs the question, why not venture away from the Carolinas more often?
One story that fans cannot get enough of in the sport recently is James “Smooth” Conrad and his sudden and fascinating rise within the top ranking pro division. I had a chance to ask James about what helped land him in the hunt with a solid ten under par after round one and his reply was, “I gave myself a lot of chances to birdie, my Teebirds were flying well, I can always count on them to keep it in the fairways.” What’s your plan for tomorrow? “Trying to dial-in the par threes.” James is sitting in eighth place and with his growing reputation of playing well as the rounds progress, we will look forward to some great shots from this exceptionally “smooth” player.
Ricky Wysocki has played good rounds of disc golf the last month and still finds himself falling short of a victory. This fact is in no way a reflection of his ability to throw a disc. He is the same great player that he was last week or last year. But with the rise of The Disc Golf Pro Tour and players from across the world playing the best disc golf rounds of their lives, Ricky must rise even higher if he is to regain his top spot. Ricky did just that during the first round to card a spectacular (-12) and claimed fourth place to tie with Simon Lizotte and Emerson Keith.
Simon Lizotte initially saw some of his shots stray a bit off their intended courses early but with some determination he kept his head in the game and made some tough scrambles, giving himself birdie looks that he knocked down impressively. His ability to not lose control of his game throughout the round was nothing less than masterful. Unfortunately he struggled late in the round but rebounded with a miraculous eagle on hole #17 and a birdie on #18 to card a (-12) and landing in a tie for fourth place.
When you have been among the top disc golfers in the world for as long as Paul McBeth has, the expectation to torch a course is always in the minds of the fans and it is this expectation that tends to undermine the stellar performances that Paul has demonstrated this year. Paul surely clocked into work this day. His numbers weren’t flashy at first glance carding four pars during a stretch of his back nine. But what he has done was nine birdies with two eagles. He may not be leader on the scoreboard, but is tied for second place at 13 under par. McBeth is in perfect position to keep pace tomorrow with the rest of the field or maybe even pull away. Will we see a “Beast Mode” for round two?
If you are looking for a guide on how to attack a course, look no further than Nate Sexton. He’s showing us why he is known for his unwavering reputation as a smart disc golfer. I asked Nate if he planned to play the course conservative or aggressive and he was adamant when he replied, “aggressive.” He was true to his word as he managed a 100% scramble rate taking those chances where other players might have elected to lay up. How can you second guess an athlete who has spent his career knowing when to pull the trigger? Today that knowledge has paid off as he sits (-13) for the round in second place tied with his traveling friend Paul McBeth.
If a last round is where a player can lose a tournament, then it can be argued that the first round can help a competitor win it. Armed with his trusty Legacy “Outlaw” disc, Peter shot ten birdies in a row and fifteen total for the day. The “Outlaw” Peter McBride is a resident of California when he’s not shooting the hot round of the day, a sizzling -15. Peter is no stranger to the high level pressures of disc golf as he’s shown today. I asked him what his secret was by making the huge statement on day one in Rockwall, Texas and he offered that, “I played six practice rounds, so I had a solid game plan going into the round. I was throwing my Legacy Outlaw very well today and I executed all the shots I needed to.” Execution was definitely the key word when describing Peter’s clash with the Harry Myers course on the first day. Sitting on top of the leaderboard Peter plans to continue his great play going into day two.
The First day of the Nick Hyde Memorial powered by Innova and Hyzerbomb was a beautiful day of weather and an even better day of disc golf. The lead card for the second round will be Peter McBride (-15), Nate Sexton (-13), Paul McBeth (-13), and Simon Lizotte (-12). If day two is anything like the first, the battle between these four competitors on the feature card might be one for the ages. Tune in tomorrow for another round at 5:00 pm Eastern.