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.

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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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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 extends NT points lead; Hokom takes women’s crown

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

Elevation? No problem.

Bum leg? Not an issue.

Course record? No big deal. Twice.

Ricky Wysocki earned his third National Tour event of the season this past weekend at the Great Lakes Open. (photo courtesy of PDGA Media)

That sums up Ricky Wysocki’s performance at this past weekend’s Great Lakes Open National Tour Series event, where the Prodigy phenom racked up his third NT victory with a three-round 32-under-par 154.

Prodigy teammate Garrett Gurthie shot a 23-under par 163 to place second, and Will Schusterick and Devan Owens tied for third place with 22-under 164s. Paul McBeth rounded out the top five with a 24-under 165, which took place at the much-revered Toboggan Championship Course at Kensington Metropark in Milford, Michigan.

As has been the case in the other events he has won this year, though, this one was all Wysocki from the first day.

After Owens held the lead briefly with a course-record 52 on Friday, Wysocki bested the score later that day with an 11-under 51. Wysocki then took that one shot lead and extended it to six by throwing a 1077-rated 50 – breaking his own Toboggan course record, all while playing through a calf injury – on Saturday.

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Women’s disc golf clinics attract wide range of participants, create young fans

Wearing a journalist hat makes one think differently when at an event. But at a recent disc golf clinic, I was just really excited that my wife and daughters had not only agreed to attend, but were even looking forward to it. Being in dad mode, I at least snapped a lot of photos.

The event, a women’s disc golf clinic led by Prodigy Disc team members Sarah Hokom and Paige Pierce, was held in in Santa Cruz, Calif., three days before the Masters Cup National Tour event.

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My excitement came because I had waited a long time for my wife and daugters to show interest in my favorite sport (or activity, hobby or obsession). My wife used to play many years ago, before the kids came along, but it was always more about wanting to share something I loved. The kids have played a few times, but hadn’t gotten hooked yet.

Scheduled for 5 p.m., the clinic was held on a particularly windy (and cold, for Santa Cruz) day in April. As a disc golf instructor, I assure you that these are not ideal conditions for teaching or learning the basics of flying disc sports.

We arrived a little before 5 and, aside from one lady, were the first on the scene. Slipping into journalist mode, I asked her what brought her there. She told me she was from San Francisco (a 1- or 2-hour drive, depending on traffic), and had played a week earlier in the amateur Masters Cup event. The clinic was promoted during that week and during the Daisy Chains women’s tourney, held in Santa Cruz County the week between the amateur and professional Masters Cup weekends.

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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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The Vibram Open should be packed full of excitement

Nate Doss takes a plunge into the pond after winning the Vibram Open last year. Will Doss repeat or will someone else claim victory this year?

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

This year’s Vibram Open is shaping up to be one to remember.

And for the first time, the pros and ams are each getting in on the action.

The Vibram is the final stop on the PDGA National Tour Elite Series. This year, the event expands to four days for the pros, running from Thursday to Sunday.

On top of that, the Vibram has added an amateur tournament, which will be held at other area courses with the final being shifted to Maple Hill to play the vaunted gold tees.

Some of the other major new items for this year’s Vibram include:

  • The men’s professional open field is smaller, but has a larger payout. A cap of 144 players has been set (it used to be 160), and the cut will remain at 72. The payout has gone from $41,000 to $45,000.
  • The women’s payout this year has also gone up — from $8,300 to $10,000. The Vibram also allowed any and all women to compete with the cut line being 15.
  • The Vibram has also gone from three to four rounds.

The pro tournament will run from Thursday through Sunday at Maple Hill in Leicester, Mass.

One of the most scenic courses on the tour, the championship gold tees challenge the best in the world with tricky woods shots, long drives and creative water holes.

As the crowning — and final stop — on the PDGA Tour, more than just a victory will be on the line as the tour champion will be crowned at this event as well.

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Third National Tour event starts Friday

Paul McBeth, shown here competing in the 2011 Vibram Open, has won the National Tour's first two events. He'll look to win the third NT event at the Kansas City Wide Open.

By P.J. Harmer — RattlingChains.com Staff

Paul McBeth is seeking his third straight PDGA National Tour Elite Series title this weekend in Kansas City, Mo.

The Tour will hold its third event of the six-tournament season, at the 30th Kansas City Wide Open from Friday-Saturday.

During this year’s Drive for the Championship presented by Vibram Disc Golf, a player’s top three NT event points, plus those earned at the tour-ending Vibram Open from August 16-19, will decide the champion in the men’s and women’s tour.

McBeth, who placed third in last year’s tour, has won the first two men’s events and has a perfect 200 points this season. The first two wins came at the Memorial and the Masters Cup.

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The time has come: Women’s Global Event to run Saturday

With all the planning and plotting out of the way, the PDGA’s Women’s Global Event is set.

On Saturday, 41 events around the world will take place in conjunction with the Women’s Global Event. Nearly 600 ladies have pre-registered for the event and walk-ups will likely push the number to well beyond 600.

This event could be a crowning achievement for women’s disc golf and the PDGA.

“All of the PDGA events are important,” said Sara Nicholson, the PDGA’s membership manager. “This one will make the biggest ‘field’ of women competing against each other during one event, so this is definitely one for the history books.”

The concept of the event, though it may seem extremely complicated, is actually pretty straightforward.

Women from all over the globe will play two rounds of disc golf at a local event. The scores are submitted to the PDGA and rated. Those ratings equal the “global score.” Two rounds must be played on the same course and layout and include at least five players (male or female) in the field with a rating of 800 or higher. That works to keep the ratings in the event consistent.

Scores and ratings will be updated throughout the day Saturday and eventually will crown an overall champion.

That equals a ton of work, but in the end this could be a massive step for women’s disc golf. As of Thursday night, 597 women were pre-registered for the event.

“It’s about participation,” touring professional Sarah Hokom said. “Get as many women as possible out there competing as one force. This is a huge thing and I think it will be epic.”

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The younger generation is key to growing the women’s game

Three-time world champion Val Jenkins is the chairperson of the PDGA's Women's Committee and is working to expand the women's game.

If one took a peek at last year’s PDGA National Elite Tour women’s standings, they’d see a list of ladies who participated in the nine-event series throughout the season.

However, looking at it closer, just one player — Sarah Hokom — played in all nine events. Three others — Val Jenkins, Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen played in eight apiece.

Liz Lopez played in seven and after that, it dwindles to five points and below. Of the 57 players who competed in an NT event, 40 played in just one event.

In comparison, the men’s National Elite Tour had 200 players, with 12 players competing in seven or more events. More than a handful played in five or six events, which made the fields larger.

So what gives?

As with many sports, the purse for the winners is usually smaller when it comes to women. And though the ladies may not be the main draw, there is star power when talking about players such as three-time world champion Jenkins, 2011 world champion Pierce and Hokom, who placed second in last year’s NT standings to Jenkins.

Still, it seems whenever Open players on the women’s circuit travel, they play the same people on the top cards. In men’s action, you can find different standouts regionally who can sometimes get in with the top touring pros.

Sarah Hokom, who left her job as a teacher to tour full time, is trying to help expand the women's game.

The top female amateur divisions sometimes lack players, too. Hokom said while she was still an am, she sometimes had to play in a men’s division.

“I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while,” Hokom said. “That’s why I played Open. There were no women in the Midwest to play against as an amateur. Places I went, sometimes you played against yourself. That’s no fun.”

Hokom, a former high school biology teacher, opted to become a full-time touring pro a couple of years ago. Sponsored by Discraft, she said has to watch where she tours because she needs to make sure there’s a decent Women’s Open division. If there’s only one or two others in the tournament, it’s not financially worth traveling to the events.

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