30th KCWO Tees Off
The 30th Kansas City Wide Open, teed off this morning under overcast skies and with unusually cool temperatures for this time of year in the Midwest.
Hosted by the inveterate Kansas City Flying Disc Club, this edition features an unprecedented five different and unique courses being played in the three day competition for the first time ever, making it arguably the most challenging test of mettle on the 2012 PDGA National Tour Elite Series, presented by Vibram Disc Golf.
Round 1 was contested at the newest of the tournament courses, Wilbur Young Park in Blue Springs, which is a very nice 5,999 foot, par 55 layout on rolling hills of lush green grass. Accuracy is the name of the game here as an errant shot on the tree lined fairways can very easily leave you with a very tough second shot from the thick vegetation which is bountiful and punishing.
The cool temperatures didn’t seem to negatively affect Charlotte, North Carolina’s Jeremy Koling at all as he came out on fire with a -9 on the par 55 layout to grab the early lead. Just one off that pace with an impressive -8 was Paul McBeth, who may very well be one of the hottest players on the PDGA Tour thus far this year. The emphasis is on "one of the hottest players" because another one is Will Schusterick, who shot a -7 along with Devan Owens to complete the lead card.
Round 2 teed off in the afternoon under similar weather at Blue Valley Park, which was the site of the Pro World Championships finals in 2009. At 7,364 feet and par 57, the course plays much longer than the Blue Springs course played earlier in the day, but it is much more wide open inviting the big arms to air it out more. Rolling hills, scenic vistas, and a beautiful lake add to the challenge of Blue Valley not to mention the steady breeze which was fairly consistent throughout the day.
Schusterick continued his recent tear on the PDGA Tour this year by shooting a jaw dropping -13 to vault into the lead at -20 for the tournament and leave many of the other top professionals in the field asking themselves and others how it was even possible. His incredible length and control off the tee combined with out of his mind putting made Will simply untouchable this afternoon. McBeth shot a very respectable -8 but dropped to second place at -16. Koling turned in a disappointing (for him) -6 to drop out of the lead back two spots to third place with a -15 total on the day. Owens struggled to find a birdie in the afternoon to fall off the lead card, while Ricky Wysocki’s -8 in the second round pushed him to -14 for the tournament and onto the lead card for Saturday mornings third round.
The battle between Schusterick and McBeth on the course is making for some compelling drama but it is also making the National Tour Elite Series standings even more intriguing. Coming into the KCWO, McBeth leads the series by a slim margin over Schusterick. Who will leave Kansas City with the edge?
The lead Men’s Open group played in front of a decent sized gallery for a Friday afternoon, but were watched by hundreds more around the world courtesy of DiscGolfPlanet.tv.
In the Ladies Pro Open division, Valarie Jenkins played consistent golf and minimized her errant shots to throw a +2 to grab an early three throw lead after the first round. Jenkins and Paige Pierce both carded a -1 in the second round and remain in 1st and 2nd, respectively. One of the most impressive drives of the day as witnessed by the event staff at tournament headquarters, was a laser beam drive by Pierce, who easily negotiated the tight fairway on the 496 foot hole number one to leave her with the best shot of the day on that hole. Catrina Allen and Liz Lopez round out the lead card going into tomorrow.
Round 3 will see the Open Men and Open Women move over to Rosedale Park on Saturday morning before they head over to try to conquer Water Works Park later in the afternoon. Live streaming video coverage of the event will continue tomorrow. You can follow along right here at PDGA.com with hole-by-hole scoring, tournament results, and Twitter updates live from Kansas City.