A Fond Farewell
Sunday morning was bitter sweet, as the players arrived to the course at Maple Hill Farm for not only the final round of the Vibram Open, but also the last leg of the 2013 National Tour Elite Series presented by our host, Vibram Disc Golf. Another beautiful day, with temperatures in the mid 70’s with low humidity and plenty of sunshine; there were no distractions for the players who made the cut and prepared themselves to tackle the difficult Gold course one last time. The top 10 female competitors and 72 men with the lowest totals in the field made the cut, and all were promised to get paid, so everything that took place on Sunday was kind of an added bonus. And speaking of bonuses, as the tournament came to a close, the National Tour crowns were at stake and the top 5 women and top 10 men would get a nice chunk of change, rewarding them for their consistent stellar play this year on the tour. Looking back on the tour season, we have seen so many great moments, but it seems as though a few of the players saved their best for last.
The top card of the Women’s Division teed off bright and early at 9am, with spectators pouring in in massive numbers. Valarie Jenkins, Kelsey Wilmerding, Paige Pierce and Sarah Hokom were tight going into the final round, and on such a demanding track, the small gaps between the players could vanish in a matter of a couple holes. Val, who is no stranger to holding a lead, continued her impressive play, easing through the first few holes with pars, as the other three women were feeling some of the last round jitters. As she weaved her way over the ponds and through the woods, spectators were wowed by not only Val’s incredible touch around the greens, but also her composure and positive demeanor. Kelsey and Paige struggled early, and round 4 quickly turned into a two woman race. Sarah started the round four throws behind Val, but after the front nine, Hokom had narrowed the lead down to one little stroke. The women battled back and forth, balancing dominating drives with precision putting. Val put the rubber to the road on the back nine, stringing up a series of pars, while Sarah fell back and ultimately was unable to catch our eventual champion. Val handles her game and the attention of being in the winner’s circle with grace, and she deserved her win at the last stop on the National Tour.
Another race had developed, however, as Paige began to slip behind the lead card, while Catrina Allen was making a push. Going into the tournament, Paige held a slim lead of two points over Catrina for the Series crown, and that lead was seriously in danger. Cat was playing well, especially on the back nine, and eventually, she surpassed Paige, carding birdies on the difficult seventeenth and eighteenth holes. Paige looked deflated as she tapped in her bogey on the 18th hole, knowing that she had let the Series title slip through her fingertips. At least she has the right to call herself a World Champion, as she won her second title this year in Crown Point, IN. Catrina finished a solid year of play with a third place finish at the Vibram, earning her second NT Points Title in as many years.
In the Men’s division, Paul McBeth held a four throw lead going into the final round after a blistering-hot round of 50 on Saturday. Will Schusterick, Cameron Colglazier, and Cale Leiviska would join him on the lead card with lots of work to do if they wanted to make up any ground. Much to the delight of the largest gallery ever to grace the course at Maple Hill, everyone on the top card had moments of brilliance. Paul made a statement early, however, and he was not going to give this one up. He birdied seven of the first nine holes, leaving the rest of the field in his dust. Eventually he would cruise into the clubhouse shooting a course record of 45, or fourteen under par, with an astounding 13 throw margin of victory. Paul is the model for sportsmanship in this great sport of ours. He always has a positive attitude and never lets his temper get the best of him. He even dresses the part of the consummate professional. His impressive talent on and off the course make it easy to see why he is often the one being chased. Entering into the event, he was ahead of Ricky Wysocki by two points in the NT Points race, and he obviously held on for the win, making it a nice little weekend getaway to the New England area. A big “thank you” goes out to Steve Dodge and his fabulous tournament team for hosting such a unique and marvelous event.
The 2013 National Tour season gave us many thrills, and we bid a fond farewell to the Elite Series, but not disc golf for the season. Many players are eagerly awaiting their trip to Rock Hill, SC for the United States Disc Golf Championship in early October. We look forward to another exciting Tour season in 2014, with live broadcasting by discgolfplanettv bringing you more of the action. For a complete list of the Vibram Open results, check out pdga.com and as always, event photos can be seen on Flickr. Until next time, folks…we’ll see you next year!