DG Down Under
76 players from six countries converged on Pine Rivers Park, just north of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia for the 2013 Australian Disc Golf Championships on November 16-17. The first PDGA sanctioned A-tier in the southern hemisphere also had the biggest prize pool with more than $7000 dollars spread through the divisions. The event can also claim to have one of the most far flung fields, with contestants from six countries and coming from as far as Texas in one direction, Sweden in the other and South Africa, New Zealand, Taiwan and Thailand in between.
Set around the banks of the South Pine River, just inland from Moreton Bay, the 11000 foot par 72 course was a searching test of nerve, endurance and skill with many experienced hands, including World Champs Des and Jay “Yeti” Reading, saying that it was the toughest course they’ve ever played. Throw in the Queensland heat and high humidity, and the result was some very exhausted players watching the award presentations after a dramatic final nine set against the backdrop of huge bolts of lightning piercing the deepening gloom.
Setting the early pace in the Pro division was up and coming Aussie Chris Finn, whose 68 was only bested for the weekend by Jay Reading’s 66 in the second round as he dragged himself up off the second card and back into contention. Defending champ, New Zealand’s Simon Feasey also lit up the early rounds before succumbing to a nasty virus that dehydrated him to the point where he was dangerously unwell and forced to withdraw before the final nine. Jay Reading held steady in the finals to take the Australian title that he narrowly gave up to Jussi Muresma just two years ago. Finn and Sean Kapalko both made mistakes and fell behind while trying to push hard to bridge the gap; Kapalko in particular wowed the crowd with some spectacular bombs over the water.
It was a huge effort from the Yeti, who had spent the week beforehand sitting in cars, covering massive distances through the Aussie outback bringing the sport to over 2000 school kids with the assistance of the PDGA Marco Polo International Fund and the EDGE program. The force of his personality is bigger than Texas, and it needed to be to cover a state that Texas would fit into four times.
Des Reading slowly built her lead all weekend in the Women’s division. After throwing a very strong 84 from the gold (long) tees on Saturday morning, she steadily built her lead on Sweden’s Linda Emanuelsson for an easy 18 throw win. Jennie Rintala, in her first big tournament and showing enormous potential, finished third, 2 throws behind Emanuelsson.
Patrick Robinson and Cassie Anderson, both from Geelong, took the Advanced titles, while the New Zealanders Nigel Hailstone in the Masters, and Hall of Fame member Bob Gentil in the Grand Masters, dominated the age-protected divisions.
The success of this event is just the thin edge of the wedge of growth in the sport in Australia. New courses are going into the ground and juniors all over are being introduced. Next year’s Australian Disc Golf Championships in Newcastle, New South Wales, promises to be even bigger.
For a complete listing of results, click here.
-Photo Courtesy of Sandra Swindells