McBeth dominates Vibram Open en route to NT title

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Dominance.

That is the only word to describe the display Paul McBeth put on Sunday en route to winning the Vibram Open at Maple Hill and securing the PDGA National Tour Elite Series Championship.

Paul McBeth clinched the PDGA National Tour title with a 13-stroke victory at the Vibram Open. (photo courtesy PDGA Media)

Heading into the final round of play with a four-shot lead over Will Schusterick, McBeth got hot early and shot a course-record 14-under par 45, good enough for a 1119-rated round. The hot round left him with a 33-under 203 for the tournament, earning him the $3,000 purse with a 13-stroke victory.

Schusterick earned $2,400 and a second-place finish with his 20-under par 216, while Cale Leiviska and Cam Colglazier tied for third and $1,875 with 19-under 217s. Paul Ulibarri’s 15-under 221 was good for fifth place and $1,500.

The win marked the sixth major tournament championship in 2013 for McBeth, who recently won his second straight world championship.

Once he got locked in on Sunday, McBeth said it was only a matter of how far under par he would finish.

“I think once I was up nine, I knew I pretty much won the tournament,” he said. “I think I was at like 10-under with six holes to play, and I just looked over to someone I was following and I said, ‘Well, I guess it’s just time to see how low I can go.’”

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Vibram Open to settle National Tour races

By P.J. Harmer & Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Updated 4:36 p.m. EST

One final showdown will settle the PDGA’s National Tour this weekend at Maple Hill in Leicester, Mass.

The Vibram Open, the closing tournament of the National Tour Elite Series, will be where points-leader Paul McBeth looks to hold off Ricky Wysocki. The tournament runs Thursday through Sunday.

vibram_open

Tee times start at 7:45 a.m. local time Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Players begin playing at 8 a.m. on the final day.

The Vibram will also pay out more than $50,000 in prize money. The men will split $45,000, with the winner earning $3,000. Second place is $2,400 and third place gets $2,000. The women, with a field of 15, will split $7,000. The winner earns $1,500, second is $1,200 and third will get $1,000.

That strong payout is something tournament director Steve Dodge said players have come to look forward to each year, and has contributed to the tournament’s growing stature.

“Consistently having a $50,000-plus payout – I think this is our third year that we’ve gone over $50,000 – and setting up everybody for success – here’s exactly what our payout is, here’s exactly how everything’s going to work, and having that all laid out well in advance – gives the touring players and all the locals something significant that they know is going to happen,” Dodge said.

“It’s like Christmas,” he continued. “It’s a given. You know it’s happening, you know it’s going to be really fun, and you want to be there.”

Plus, the tournament is competitive, as the women and men have tight races for the NT series championship on the line.

On the men’s side, four players are within 24 points of the lead. But, the reality is unless something drastic happens with McBeth and Wysocki, one of them will be claiming the men’s tour title Sunday in Leicester.

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Schusterick overcomes heat, himself to win Beaver State Fling

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster season for Will Schusterick.

After a dubious, dramatic playoff victory at the Memorial that found him in it only because of a scorecard error, he then posted an eighth place finish at the Texas State Championships, followed by 13th and 10th place National Tour showings.

Will Schusterick throws during this past weekend’s Beaver State Fling. (photo courtesy PDGA Media).

A couple of top-five finishes later, though, and as the season rolls toward the World Championships it seems Schusterick is peaking again at the right time.

The fourth-ranked player in the world took a share of the lead early at last weekend’s Beaver State Fling in Estacada, Oregon and never looked back, holding on for a two shot victory with a 35-under-par 209 to earn $3,600 in prize money.

Nate Doss shot a 33-under 211 to take second place and earn $2,300, while Ricky Wysocki and Dave Feldberg tied for the third place purse of $1,685 with 32-under 212s. Adam Hunt threw a 31-under 213 to round out the top five and take home $1,400.

Heading into Sunday’s final round with a two-stroke lead over Feldberg, Schusterick said his consistently long drives saved him on a day where he lost his putting stroke for the first part of the round.

“I actually missed seven putts inside the circle the last round, but they were all for birdie,” Schusterick said. “I was putting horribly the last round. Like, terrible.”

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Beaver State Fling could help settle the dust for the National Tour

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

And then there were two.

The 2013 PDGA National Tour has but two events remaining this season and this weekend’s Beaver State Fling could truly set the tone for the season-ending Vibram Open, which is set for mid-August.

BSFThe Beaver State Fling, which is being held Friday through Sunday at Milo McIver State Park in Estacada, Oregon, has a total of 159 players registered, as of Thursday morning. Of that total, 79 are in the men’s draw and 24 in the women’s. The rest make up the masters’ divisions.

Adding more to the storyline are those players who are still contending for the National Tour series championship are all signed up.

That includes the top five in the men’s — where five players are within 65 points of one another. In all reality, though, if nothing catastrophic happens, it’s a two-man race between current leader Paul McBeth (475 points) and Ricky Wysocki (463.5).

Should those two falter, Nikko Locastro (453) is within striking distance, with Will Schusterick (424.5) and Dave Feldberg (410) as long shots.

Take into account, however, that of the first seven NT events, only the top five will count toward the final standings. Those totals will be added to the Vibram Open finish to decide the final NT champion.

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Wysocki dominates en route to Texas State Championships victory

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

After an up-and-down performance that still found him on the lead card for the final round of the Memorial Championship, it was anyone’s guess how Ricky Wysocki would perform at the Texas State Championships.

Wysocki, though, left no doubt.

Ricky Wysocki putts during the second round of the Texas State Championships. Wysocki won the event. (photo courtesy PDGA Media)

On a course littered with trees, brush, and cacti, Wysocki shot the hot rounds Friday and Saturday en route to a 10-stroke victory in this weekend’s Texas State Championships in Manor, Texas. Even as Paul McBeth tried to play catch-up on Sunday, Wysocki didn’t let up, using a deft mix of backhand drives and forehand escape shots to capture the $1,660 purse.

Wysocki finished the three-day tournament with a 33-under-par 186.

McBeth placed second with a 23-under 196, taking home $1,270 in the process. Nikko Locastro’s 16-under 203 earned him $975 for his third-place finish. David Hemmeline and Ron Convers tied for fourth by shooting a 15-under 204. They each earned $730.

Without question, though, the tournament belonged to Wysocki. Even if he wouldn’t admit it himself.

After starting off by shooting an eight-under-par 65 on Friday, Wysocki said he felt like he could have played better.

“I knew after the first round I was ahead, and I didn’t feel like I played that well,” he said. “It was windy, so when it’s windy you can shoot pretty well and not know it. That’s how I felt the first day, I didn’t play super solid, but I played all right.”

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Texas State Championships puts a premium on accuracy over distance

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

After the far-under-par shootout known as the Memorial Championships, the PDGA National Tour heads east this weekend to Austin, Texas, for the Texas State Championships.

And as the tour lands in the Lone Star State, professional disc golfers will be welcomed with open arms by something they did not see much of two weeks ago in Arizona:

Trees.

TEXAS-STATE-2013Indeed, with pros playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at East Metro Park in Manor, Texas, the game will change from the open, water hazard-rich layout of the Memorial to a tight, technical event that will highlight mid-range accuracy over giant hyzer shots.

While it may not make for as much of a “wow” factor, as the big guns will likely stay holstered, the course layout will place a premium on laser-like precision.

Throw in temperatures in the 80s and the customary Texas wind, and it’s a recipe for an intriguing weekend of disc golf.

On the heels of a fifth-place tie at the Memorial, Ricky Wysocki has spent the last few days prepping at the course in Austin, honing his mid-range game in anticipation of making a run at this tournament’s crown.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Wysocki said on Wednesday. “I’ve practiced two days here, two to three days now in Austin. I’ve practiced every day and I actually just picked up my new mid-ranges from Prodigy. It’s good to try those out and start testing them out tomorrow, and I’ll probably throw them in the tournament.”

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Schusterick overcomes scorecard error, wins Memorial in playoff

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.

Will Schusterick, shown competing at the 2011 Vibram Open, earned a victory in the first National Tour event of the year by winning The Memorial Championship on the first hold of a playoff with Paul McBerh. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Will Schusterick, shown competing at the 2011 Vibram Open, earned a victory in the first National Tour event of the year by winning The Memorial Championship on the first hold of a playoff with Paul McBerh. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

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.

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PDGA National Tour season begins with The Memorial Championship

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains Staff

And so it begins…

With an off-season of sponsor-jumping in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to start looking ahead.

And there’s no true better way to do it than with the beginning of the 2013 PDGA National Tour, which starts today with the The Memorial Championship in Arizona.

national_tourThis is the 25th running of the annual tournament.

The tournament also might give some light to how players are adjusting to new sponsors. And with many using different discs, it leaves the question of who the favorite is heading into the four-day tournament.

To go over every sponsor change would take up an awful lot of space. But consider this — six of the top 10 from last year’s National Tour standings have flipped teams. Those include Will Schusterick, Ricky Wysocki and Cale Leiviska, who finished 2-4 last year and all moved to upstart Prodigy Disc.

Reigning tour champion Paul McBeth stayed put with Innova. Could the stability of being with the same team be beneficial this year?

Or will it make a difference?

Prodigy, obviously, made the biggest splash in the market, putting together a team of former world champions and top-level players — both men and women. Time will tell if that move proves to be good for the players involved, but it has given fans of the professional tour something to discuss, argue and debate about since the announcement in January.

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PDGA vs. USGA membership: One way the barrier to entry is higher in disc golf

Saying I am a disc golf supporter and even an ardent promoter would be an understatement. Kind of like stating Labrador retrievers like to chase things and bring them back.

I write for two blogs exclusively dedicated to disc golf, and have a book in the works. My side business — School of Disc Golf — is more about spreading the word than generating income. I produce a TV show/video magazine on disc golf.

jackI have also served as an officer for my local disc golf club, helped to design and install several courses, and talk about disc golf to whoever is willing to listen. I proudly hold PDGA #9715, which nowadays marks me as old school.

However, I am not a current member of the PDGA, disc golf’s governing organization.

In the past membership was a no-brainer, as it was required if you wanted to participate in certain sanctioned events. But raising young kids and injuries have effectively halted my participation in all but local, one-day competitions, so I’m no longer compelled to be a PDGA for that reason alone.

Don’t misunderstand me. Being able to compete in sanctioned events wasn’t the only reason I joined the PDGA.

I somewhat enjoyed the magazine that comes with membership — both versions (Disc Golf World News and Disc Golfer), and was proud to do my part in supporting the main organization representing the sport I love. But right around the time I stopped playing in big events I also found myself out of work, and all superfluous expenses had to go. After 13 consecutive years of membership, my streak ended in 2010.

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A long road to create the PDGA course directory

By Allen Risley – for Rattling Chains

As a big fan of Disc Golf Course Review, I had to read the profile of its history that ran on Rattling Chains.

The article — and its follow up –was great. Steve Hill did a fine job of highlighting the the various tools available on DGCR – tools I have made a great deal of use of over the past several years. Whether it’s searching for new courses to play, tracking the courses I’ve played, building a road trip itinerary or searching for plastic through the marketplace, DGCR is a great resource. And I’d like to feel I played a little part in making DGCR happen.

You see, I compiled the first PDGA Course Directory.

The original PDGA Course Directory. (photo by Allen Risley)

The original PDGA Course Directory. (photo by Allen Risley)

I had to chuckle a little when reading about the frustrations of DGCR founder Tim Gostovic in regard to planning disc golf road trips using the “check the entire Internet” method. Imagine how frustrated he would have been back in 1984, when there was no Internet to check! Hell, at that point there wasn’t even a complete list of courses in printed form to check, much less one with a search function.

Early disc golfers – those with 4-digit or lower PDGA numbers – typically used word of mouth, a dog-eared copy of the PDGA Pro Tour tournament calendar, or an old copy of Frisbee World or Flying Disc Illustrated magazine to find new places to play.

And paper maps — lots of paper maps.

There weren’t a whole lot of places to find. Back in the early 80’s there were only a few hundred disc golf courses in the ground. In Florida for example, where I played, many of our tournaments were played on temporary courses set up just for the weekend using objects, homemade targets or portable DGA baskets. So even the tournament listings weren’t a sure bet to use to find a new course – it may have been packed up in someone’s trunk right after the trophies were handed out.

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