By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff
Sunday just seems to be Paul McBeth’s day.
After trailing Nikko Locastro by two strokes heading into the final day of play at last weekend’s Kansas City Wide Open, the reigning World Champion shot a combined 73 over 27 holes to leapfrog Locastro and secure the win and the $2,240 payout with a 47-under par 224.
Nate Doss notched his highest National Tour finish of the season, earning $1,715 for second place with a 42-under 229, while Locastro finished in third with a 39-under 232 to win $1,310. Paul Ulibarri (-37, 234) and Will Schusterick (-32, 209 without Final 9 participation) rounded out the Top 5.
For McBeth, his Sunday performance followed the pattern of his other two big victories this year at the “Steady” Ed Memorial Master’s Cup and the Copenhagen Open — play solid opening rounds to stay within a few throws of contention, then play lights out on the final day to blow past the competition.
The 22-year-old said the finality of a tournament’s last day motivates him to succeed.
“It’s just the scenario of having your back up against the wall and having to perform, and the added pressure of the round itself is what pushes me to play well,” McBeth said. “There is no tomorrow for the most part.”
McBeth said the turning point for him on Sunday was a hot start on the first three holes that allowed him to quickly tie Locastro for the lead. From there, he said he had to continue to play hard to try and get Locastro to crack.
“Just constantly putting the pressure on him,” McBeth said of his mentality. “Just going for birdies and hopefully coverting those, and putting pressure on him to where if he made the mistake it would be twice as worse – from where if I was parring the hole and he bogeyed it would only be a stroke, to where if I was birdieing all the holes he would have to keep throwing good shots.”
While McBeth battled with Locastro and Doss to close out the victory, final card mainstay Ricky Wysocki stood on the sidelines, having withdrawn after the tournament’s first round due to a leg injury.
McBeth, however, took a stoic approach to one of his main adversaries missing the competition.
“I didn’t really think about Ricky at all,” McBeth said. “I’m still playing the course and I want to play my best, so him being there or not should not affect my play.”
That focus on his own game, rather than outside distractions, is one that McBeth said has taken him a long time to learn.
“It really took years of trying to figure out what really helps you mentally,” McBeth said. “That’s what separates (amateurs) from pros, I think — the mental state of disc golf.”
Wysocki’s absence and Locastro’s third place finish upset the top of the PDGA National Tour Elite Series standings. Locastro, who has finished all six NT events this season, sits on top of the leaderboard with 525 points, while Will Schusterick’s fifth-place finish left him in second place with 491.5 points. Dave Feldberg’s 11th-place finish put him into third place with 482 points.
However, given the PDGA scoring system that only takes into account a player’s five best NT finishes, the picture becomes murkier. Allowing for McBeth’s absence at the Hall of Fame Classic and Wysocki’s withdrawl from Kansas City – while also throwing out Locastro, Schusterick, and Feldberg’s worst performances – leaves McBeth, unofficially, in first place with 475 points, Wysocki in second with 463.5, and Locastro in third with 453.
For McBeth, he said it means the player who performs best at the upcoming Beaver State Fling will likely be the National Tour champion.
“I think Beaver State will actually be a clincher because Ricky and I will both take top three at Vibram,” McBeth said.
Ulibarri tops Pierce in playoff to take women’s title
For a second National Tour event in a row, Paige Pierce entered the final day of play with the lead, or a share of it.
And for the second time in a row, Pierce watched another woman take home the victory.
After shooting 3-under par on the final nine holes to force a sudden death playoff with Pierce, Catrina Ulibarri bested her teammate to win the Kansas City Wide Open. The 5-under par 266 performance netted her $1,055 in prize money and marked her second National Tour victory this season.
Pierce (-5, 266) and Val Jenkins (+4, 275) rounded out the top three in the women’s field.
Ulibarri’s victory gives her a slim two-point edge over Pierce (474-472) in the National Tour series standings when accounting for the players’ five best placements. Sarah Hokom’s sixth place finish leaves her in third place with 464 points.
Steve Hill is the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.