By P.J. Harmer – Rattling Chains staff
One day, Will Schusterick will be able to look back at the 2013 Memorial Championship and laugh.
Schusterick birdied the opening hole of a playoff with Paul McBeth to win $3,700 and the championship at the 25th Memorial in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Some 30 minutes earlier, a playoff was the furthest thing from Schusterick’s mind. In the span of about five minutes, things came crashing down.
This almost turned out to be the tournament that got away.
Celebrating his win at the season-opening National Tour event, Schusterick broke away from friends and fans to make sure his scorecard added up. It added up to a 43 and a two-stroke victory over McBeth.
Moments later, while being interviewed, he got news that he said made him look white as a ghost.
Schusterick forgot to put the total on his card, resulting in a two-stroke penalty. That meant he’d have to go into a playoff with McBeth.
Talk about a roller coaster of emotions in an action-packed five minutes.
“I had a tap-in and a lot of friends stormed the green,” Schusterick said. “I lost track during the excitement so much that I wasn’t fully paying attention.”
Schusterick said he counted the card, as did everybody else in the group. He then took the card to hand in – but didn’t think about putting the final score down. The scores were right, but the 43 was not written down.
“It’s completely my fault,” he said. “I didn’t write it down. The scorecard added up right, I just didn’t physically write the 43. I handed it in. I didn’t even think about writing it down.
Just like that, his two-stroke victory was gone. Add to that the $3,700 top prize, which was also now in jeopardy.
After about 15 or so minutes to warm up, Schusterick got ready to go head-to-head with McBeth. Schusterick said there was a “giant crowd” at the first hole.
“I got ready and got my head into it,” he said. “I can’t go back. I have to go win the playoff.”
The par-3 first hole is about 380 or 390 feet, he said, with water in front and not too far to the left of the basket. Schusterick parked his drive, landing it on the right and skipping it to about 10 feet on the left for an easy birdie. McBeth missed his birdie putt from about 60 feet.
“I was thinking ‘Thank God,’” Schusterick said. “I already won’t live it down, but if I had lost this tournament, I really would have had to deal with it.”
Schusterick finished with a four-day 48-under-par 184. McBeth’s 48 under included a 39 – a record-setting 1126-rated round, according to results on the PDGA website – on Saturday. McBeth received $2,600 for his finish.
The current top-ranked player in the game, Schusterick moved from Innova to upstart Prodigy this year. He said he used the new Prodigy drivers – the D1 and D4 – all weekend and liked how the discs performed.
“They were amazing,” he said. “They are both great discs and I threw them more than any other disc. Anything 400 feet or above, I threw those discs.”
Gregg Barsby placed third, winning $2,100 with a 44-under 188. Nikko Locastro finished fourth with a 44-under 189, earning $1,800. Ricky Wysocki and Nate Doss each shot a 42-under 190 to tie for fifth. Each won $1,550.
Pierce cruises to women’s crown
Paige Pierce shot a 1036-rated 54 in the opening round to open a seven-stroke lead and never looked back en route to a 16-under-par 216 to beat Val Jenkins by 11 strokes.
Pierce and Jenkins, who finished with a 5-under 227, were the lone women to shoot below par for the weekend. Pierce won $1,600 for the championship and Jenkins took home $1,100 for second place.
“I played the first round really aggressively when I could,” Pierce said. “On tight fairways I played safe. I had a seven-stroke lead and I knew I had it if I kept my head right and not get too comfortable.”
Sarah Hokom finished third with a 10-over-par 242, which earned her $900. Catrina Ulibarri won $700 for taking fourth with an 11-over 243, followed by Liz Lopez-Dorries, who took fifth and $500 with her 18-over 250.
The next National Tour series event is the Texas State Championships in Austin, Texas from March 15-17.
“It’s definitely going to give me some extra confidence,” Pierce said. “Especially knowing how well I played. Not how much I won, but by how well I played.”
P.J. Harmer is the founder and executive editor for Rattling Chains. E-mail him at: email@example.com.