By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff
As far as the 2013 PDGA National Tour Series goes, the third time was a charm for Paul McBeth.
After second place finishes at the season’s first two NTs, McBeth emerged victorious Sunday at the 28th Annual “Steady” Ed Memorial Masters Cup in Santa Cruz, California, edging out fellow Southern Californian Philo Brathwaite with a three-day 18-under-par 198.
Brathwaite placed second with a 16-under 200 at the famed DeLaveaga Park. Nate Doss, Nikko Locastro, and Steve Rico each shot a 14-under 202 to tie for third place.
The win marked the second consecutive year McBeth won the tournament title, but he never led this year’s installment until almost halfway through the final round.
After Locastro shot a 1074-rated round to open play on Friday, Brathwaite responded with an 11-under round Saturday, which was unofficially rated at 1087. Heading into Sunday’s final round of 24, Brathwaite held a one shot lead, but he said he knew anyone — or anything, including the course — could be nipping at his heels.
“After shooting 11 under I was feeling pretty confident,” Brathwaite said. “There’s always the possibility you can get ‘DeLa’d’ out of a win. The only thing I could do was hope that didn’t happen and battle and try not to go out early with a bunch of bad shots.”
Brathwaite held off Locastro for the first few holes Sunday, but McBeth, who entered the day four strokes back of the lead, began charging on the fifth hole and birdied eight of the next 14 holes.
“All of a sudden we got to hole 10 and 11, and (McBeth) turned on a switch and got it going pretty damn good,” Brathwaite said. “After that, he got a few good breaks to go his way and a couple really nice putts that he made.”
Still, Brathwaite was within striking distance up until hole 20, which locals refer to as “Chickenfoot.” A rough drive followed by a bad upshot — plus two consecutive spit-outs — saw him end with a double bogey that, essentially, sealed his fate.
To his credit, though, Brathwaite played aggressively the whole tournament, as he had to continually attack to have a shot at his first National Tour victory.
“I wasn’t laying up on anything,” he said. “I ran a death putt on hole 2, and right out the gate I played aggressively. I just figured if somebody was going make the charge, any of those three guys could have done it.”
That is was McBeth, though, came as no surprise to Brathwaite.
“I’ve been competing against Paul in these kinds of situations for a long time …and this used to happen all the time,” he said. “He’s been really a late finisher. He just seems to find a way to turn on the switch.”
While McBeth continues to lead the National Tour series, Brathwaite has now turned in strong showings at both NT events in which he has participated, something he attributed to experience and composure.
“It’s been six years or so, seven years I’ve been on tour and showing up at these tournaments and not playing bad but not playing great,” Brathwaite said. “Just kind of having some rough spots here and there holding myself back, beating myself a little. After a while you kind of learn what not to do and what you want to do. I’ve just been staying in my zone, trying to not get too excited about things.”
Ulibarri overcomes three-shot deficit to win women’s crown
Catrina Ulibarri joined her Prodigy teammates in the National Tour winner’s circle this weekend, coming from behind on Sunday to beat Valarie Jenkins for the Open Women’s title.
Jenkins entered Sunday’s final round with a three-shot lead over Ulibarri, but the latter closed the gap with key birdies on holes 3, 11, and 18 to secure the victory.
With the 17-over 233 total score, Ulibarri became the third Prodigy player to win a women’s NT event, after both Paige Pierce and Sarah Hokom earned victories earlier this season.
Jenkins finished in second place with an 18-over par 234, while Pierce took third place with a 19-over 235.
Steve Hill is the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.