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Brandon Oleskie Gets Redemption, Wins 2017 USADGC Wire-To-Wire


Brandon Oleskie celebrating after his winning putt on hole 18. Photo by Bob Carey Photo.

From the moment Brandon Oleskie #84911 stepped foot on the Toboggan DGC for the 2017 United States Amateur Disc Golf Championship, he had only one thing on his mind; redemption.

The opening round of the 2016 USADGC saw Brandon emerging as one of three co-leaders of the event overall, but the back-to-back rounds over par that followed meant an eventual finish of 25th place for the Michigan local. It was a painful fall from grace, one that he kept in the back of his mind as he took to the tee in 2017.

In a similar fashion to 2016, Brandon once again came out of the opening round ahead of the rest of the field, carding a bogey-free 1017-rated 55 (-7). However, his second round was where the two storylines went in different directions. After a shaky start on the front nine, Brandon caught fire on the latter half of the course, picking up five birdies in a row on holes 11-16. The resulting score of 56 (-6) was enough to keep him at the top of the leaderboard with one round to go, but he would share his 1st place position with the co-leader, Dylan Lhotak #41076 of Lockport, Illinois.

As the player with the highest PDGA Player Rating and coming off a huge win at the 2017 Bowling Green Amateur Championships, it’s fair to say that Dylan came into the event as one of the favorites. Joined by the dynamically fun and entertaining duo of Minnesota’s Alec Anderson #46872 and Iowa’s Colin Poe #74005 just a few strokes back, both Brandon and Dylan had their work cut out for them, to say the least.

Alec Anderson and Colin Poe teeing off on the massive downhill, par 4 hole 3.

Dylan and Brandon gained strokes on Alec and Colin early in the round, but neither was making a move against the other. Dylan took the lead with a birdie on hole 3 but gave the stroke right back on hole 4. A birdie on hole 6 gave Brandon the edge but a birdie on hole 7 allowed Dylan to tie it up again. A parked drive on the downhill dogleg left of hole 8 swung the momentum once again to Brandon, but it was the holes that followed that changed the momentum of the round entirely.

On the steep uphill hole 9, an errant drive left Dylan with a tough look to the green, one that he played quite well. Unfortunately, he left his putt low and was forced to tap in for bogey against Brandon’s par. Hole 10 saw Dylan’s birdie putt hit the cage and roll down the green and into the tall grass, 30 feet out. With a bit of frustration, he ran the putt and missed right, taking another bogey and losing another stroke to Brandon.

As they made their way through the rest of the course, the feeling that Brandon had this one in the bag was palpable. With two holes remaining, Brandon’s lead had increased to four and it seemed all but over. That is, until hole 17.

Hole 17 is a massive 735’ par 4 that plays downhill from the tee towards a steep uphill run that leads to the green. Brandon attempted to turn over a stable driver but didn’t get the power or the angle needed, leaving himself much farther out from and left of the fairway that he would have ever wanted. Meanwhile, Dylan’s drive was perfect, allowing him to pitch up to the green for a birdie putt, one that he eventually hit. A chain-out putt from 15 feet by Brandon meant he would tap in for bogey against Dylan’s birdie. Suddenly, with only the uphill 315’ par 3 of hole 18 remaining, Dylan’s deficit had been cut to just two strokes.

Dylan Lhotak's drive on 17 was absolutely perfect, carrying all the way to the end of the fairway.

Dylan had the box and crushed a drive up the steep toboggan slope. It’s impossible to see where it ended up from the tee, but the gallery at the top of the hill let us know by applause that his drive was somewhere in birdie-putt range. Brandon teed off last, throwing forehand, and his disc was quickly knocked to the ground by the trees that line the right side of the fairway. Being nowhere near putting range, he quickly flicked another disc to the top of the fairway, 40-45 feet or so from the basket.

When we arrived at the top of the hill, Dylan’s drive was finally in sight. Laying left of the basket and inside of 30 feet, laying up and tapping in for the win was no longer an option for Brandon. And so, with the pressure on and the gallery holding their breath behind him, he had one chance from 40 feet to win the event outright and avoid a potential playoff.

Brandon fearlessly released a perfect putt that hit dead center chains and safely dropped into the basket. And with that, he got his redemption. He had not only won, but he did with style, winning wire-to-wire and finishing the journey with a high-pressure putt to seal the deal in front of his Michigan-based supporters.

Brandon Oleskie's high=pressure putt on the 18th green to win the 2017 USADGC.

The USADGC is a one-of-a-kind event and the Toboggan DGC is a truly special place for anyone to get to play disc golf. We cannot thank the tournament staff enough for once again running an incredibly smooth event and there simply are no words to show just how much we appreciate the amount of work that the staff of Kensington Metropark has done and continues to do each year to make the Toboggan course a reality.

Congratulations to Brandon Oleskie, your 2017 United States Amateur Disc Golf Champion! We look forward to seeing all of the competitors here later this year at the 2017 PDGA Amateur & Junior Disc Golf World Championships in Quad Cities, Iowa/Illinois!

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