By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff
Mother Nature had nothing on Ricky Wysocki.
Despite a weekend filled with rain, Wysocki stayed calm and played a little speed golf to earn his second PDGA National Tour championship of the year with a victory at the Hall of Fame Classic in Appling, Georgia, on Sunday.
Wysocki, who finished with a four-round 44-under-par 228 to earn a four-stroke victory over Nikko Locastro, won $2,700. Locastro earned $1,800.
“I came early and was here right after (the Masters Cup),” Wysocki said. “It’s been a tough schedule the past few weeks. Now it’s time to relax for a week and then get back to the normal tour.”
The Hall of Fame Classic was the second of back-to-back NT stops. The week before, the tour was in Santa Cruz, California, at the “Steady” Ed Memorial Masters Cup.
The distance between the two tournaments is roughly 2,500 miles. And with several top pros heading to Europe for this week’s Copenhagen Open, it left the Classic with 65 players (39 in men’s open), the smallest field of this year’s four NT events.
“It was pretty much the same guys in contention,” Wysocki said. “It wasn’t as big of a field, but the quality was high.”
Dave Feldberg finished third, earning $1,300 with a 36-under-par 236. Garrett Gurthie (-35) and Matt Dollar (-33) rounded out the top five.
With tour points leader Paul McBeth skipping the event, Wysocki’s 100 points for his second NT victory of the year should vault him into the top spot with 363.5 points. That’s 1.5 points more than Locastro, who should be at 362 following this event.
Keep in mind, however, that only the top five scores of the first seven NT events, plus the season-ending Vibram Open, are counted.
Wysocki held a 1-stroke lead over Locastro entering the final round, but birdied nine of the first 10 holes to take control. Wysocki said he sped up his play during much of the weekend as rain remained steady for most of the tournament.
“We started in the rain,” he said. “The front nine poured the whole time. It continued from the second day. The conditions weren’t the greatest. But my dad caddying helped. He kept everything dry. He gives me good vibes.”
Wysocki said he played quicker to help avoid the elements. He noted what he does is dries a disc, gets a grip on it while still under the umbrella and then goes right to throw.
“There’s different ways of playing in the rain,” he said. “I keep a lot of towels with me. … If you do everything normal, rain can get under your grip.”
Wysocki’s final-round 55 was a continuation of a solid weekend. At an unofficial 1062, it was his highest-rated round for the tournament.
“I focused on playing a good round,” Wysocki said about the final round. “I wanted to play a good round. I birdied the first seven or eight in a row. That gave me confidence going into the back nine.”
Four events remain in this year’s National Tour. The next event is the Great Lakes Open, which runs from May 31-June 2 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Cunningham cruises to women’s crown
Sarah Cunningham didn’t seem to have any issues with the rain, either.
Elaine King placed third at 15 over, followed by Courtney McCoy (17 over), and Sarah Hokom (19 over).
Cunningham shot a 61 in the third round, unofficially a 1011-rated round. There have been six rounds rated 1000 or higher this year in women’s open and that is the second highest, following Paige Pierce’s 1026-rated round during the first day of the Memorial Championship.
P.J. Harmer is the founder and executive editor for Rattling Chains. E-mail him at: email@example.com.