After a very long and exhausting day, the first 2 rounds of the Brent Hambrick Memorial Open are finished. It's anyone's title to win at this point, with the leading pack of players in the open division for both the men and women sitting only a few strokes off of each other. Competition started on the east course. The east course is 27 holes and it contains any and every type of shot off the tee you could ask for. Left handed players have just as many chances to gain strokes as right handed players. Big arms have opportunities to crush drives, and the precision arms can get strokes right back on the shorter, more technical holes.
The "lead card" for MPO consisted of local pro Tyler Horne, 3X World Champion Nate Doss, 2008 World Champion and 4X BHMO winner Dave Feldberg, and the most recent World Champion Paul McBeth, who is absolutely on fire this year. At tee time the temperatures and wind conditions were comforatble and easy to deal with, but that wouldn't last very long. As the round went on, the heat and humidity increased significantly, and the wind began to pick up as well.
There was no dominating player of the round as all of the men had several great holes, and several that they'd probably rather forget. Dave Feldberg started the round off with a strange injury on hole 1 that would remain with him until the end of the day. As he followed through on his putt, his hand hit the branches of a Hawthorne tree, and a needle from the tree lodged itself directly underneath his cuticle on the index finger of his throwing hand. He made several attempts throughout the round to get it out but never succeeded. If it was as painful as it looked, then he should be extremely pleased with where he ended up for the day.
McBeth had a few unfortunate breaks that put him out of bounds towards the middle of the round. He was clearly frustrated, but he overcame his emotions as any world champion should and finished the round one off of Dave's 8 under. Nate Doss finished one short of Paul with a 6 under par, and Tyler Horne finished at even after hitting a rough patch towards the end of his round. Tyler had some of the funnest shots to watch during the round, but didn't have enough of them to put him in range of the other 3.
The FPO lead card was stacked with star players as well including 3X World Champion Valerie Jenkins, current World Champion Sarah Hokom, and 2010 World Champion Sarah Cunningham (formerly Stanhope). Val had an uncharacteristically erratic round, carding two 6's, but finished strong with a beautiful long putt for a last second confidence boost. Sarah Cunningham had a very consistent round, hitting all her lines and big putts when they were needed. She would finish a few strokes ahead of Val Jenkins and Sarah Hokom, with an 83. Hokom finished with an 87 and Val one behind her with an 88.
By the time all the rounds were in, it was hot, to say the least. Temperatures were in the upper 90's, humidity was high, and the wind continued to get stronger. The second round was shaping up to be a battle of mental and physical strength against not only the course, but also the environment that surrounds it.
The second round was played on the temporary west course. It is shorter at only 18 holes, but because much of it plays up, down, and across the walls of the dam, it can be just as strainging on the body and mind. To ensure all the cards would finish by sunset, the cards were put into five-somes instead of the standard 4. Gregg Barsby had the hot round at 10 under par and would be the first to tee off in the MPO division. Brad Schick and Ricky Wysocki were right on his heels at 9 under par. Dave Feldberg was tied with Paul Ulibarri for 4th with 8 under.
When you first get a glance of hole 1, the first thing you think is, "Is this a joke?". It's not. It's almost straight downhill from the tower of of the dam onto a 50'X50' island of grass with OB all around it. The players eased the stress of the hole by joking around. Schick even sarcastically asked me to throw it for him, which would not have have turned out well I assure you.
The course eases up for a few holes after that, but the wind didn't. Air bounces and unexpected gusts pushed what looked to be great drives into tough approach positions, or worse, out of bounds. The entire round was up and down for most of the players, much like the first. Ricky fell victim to a few early OB penalties, including hole 1, but quickly recovered to put himself right back in the running for the lead. The round went surprisingly quick, and the lead changed several times between the 5 players. Dave Feldberg had an amazing drive on hole 14, a 430' slightly uphill shot with tall trees near the basket, that he turned over perfectly and missed an ace by inches as his disc hyzered into the top of the cage. It seemed that even he was surprised that it was that close to going in.
The FPO card was again stacked, consisting of Paige Pierce who had the hot first round with an 81, Cunningham, Hokem, Jenkins, and Catrina Allen. They started on the infamous hole 17, an insane downhill shot thrown from the dam walkway to the bottom of it's wall on to a small green with trouble all around it. The wind was manageable and the women players finished the hole without too much trouble.
The wind grew stronger and stronger, and got the best of Paige Pierce, who had a drive sail deep into the Hoover Reservoir on hole 15. An eager and dedicated fan did his best to retrieve the disc for her, but had to stop when the water got up to above his shoulders. Catrina routinely ripped drives into the horizon and made several putts, but in the end couldn't keep up with Paige, nor could anyone else. Paige finished 2 strokes ahead of Cunningham with an 81. Hokem finished only a few behind them at 87 with Val right on her heels at 88, and Catrina at 90.
Cunningham finished the day on top at 6 over par, only 1 stroke ahead of Pierce and 3 ahead of Val Jenkins. Catrina Allen and Melynda Apton are tied at 10 over, and Hokem is one behind them at 11. 27 holes on the BHMO course againto go in the morning, and that being said, anything could happen.
At the end of the day, in the Open division, it was Paul McBeth on the second card that finished in the lead. His 45 for the round was matched only by Cameron Colglazier, who's combined score puts him sitting 8th with 10 under par for the day. The difference between 1st and 8th is only 6 strokes, and it's back to the east course tomorrow morning to find out who can fight through the 27 holes and end up in the final round.
McBeth, Ulibarri, and Barsby will be on the lead card tomorrow morning. Ricky Wysocki and Brad Schick are tied for 4th, with identical scores on both rounds. At this point it is unclear as to who will be the 4th man on the card with the other 3. What we do know is that it is anyone's game, and it will be an exciting round to watch without a doubt. Can McBeth hold off the other pros for his 3rd NT title of the year? There's only one way to find out! Tune in tomorrow for live hole-by-hole scoring beginning at 9am EDT.