Dietrich Outlasts Locastro, Wins Beaver State Fling
When Christian Dietrich was asked what the difference was on this Sunday afternoon in Estacada, Oregon that lead to his win at the 2010 Beaver State Fling, he sagely offered that he came into the Finals with the lead.
Dietrich carried his five-throw lead into the final round at the lush Milo McIver State Park East course, as well as a bulls-eye on his back at which the likes of 2009 Player-of-the-Year, Nikko Locastro, two time PDGA World Champion, Nate Doss, and emerging disc golf upstart, Bradley Williams, were taking aim. At the turn of hole ten, the entire lead group were bunching up, as the temperatures rose in response to the gradual arrival of the sun along with the elevated play of Dietrich's rivals.
"The East course has given me more trouble," Dietrich said before his finals round, and he was prescient with that comment.
Dietrich was having a ho-hum front nine, with his 1-under par at the turn. But it was Nikko Locastro who was pumping his foot on the accelerator by birdying five of the last six holes on the front nine. This put Locastro within one throw of the lead, as the group made the turn towards home. But on their hole 10 drives, Locastro found the trees half-way up the fairway on this gorgeous par-4 and played loose on his out-shot, rolling the disc way wide and to the left side of the dogleg right. Dietrich responded with a high, forceful anhyzer approach that many thought was destined for the awaiting Clackamas River behind the target. Yet, the surrounding canopy of river oaks caught Dietrich's toss and kindly delivered his disc close enough for a birdie three putt and a two-throw lead.
In characteristic form, Locastro raised the stakes for his competitors and unleashed an amazing tee shot on hole 11 that landed to within three feet of the basket that is placed precariously on a smallish island green. Dietrich's missed putt flirted with the out-of-bounds line, but stayed true, though he would now relinquish the buffer throw he gained on the previous hole.
After par-3s on hole 13, the big guns all brought our their roller blades that sliced down the riverside fairway and put each in position to navigate the lengthy par-5 hole in search of a birdie. All were successful at gaining the bonus score, except Dietrich, whose putt glanced the right side of the chains and skimmed out. It was on now in Estacada, where Nikko Locastro and Christian Dietrich were tied at 24-under par with four holes left to play for the Beaver State Fling title.
First off the tee, Locastro uncharacteristically left his hole 15 drive about 40 feet shy of the target. Doss and rising star Bradley Williams all landed within the circle, which left only Dietrichto throw and the crowd to see how this Missoula, Montana native would respond to the pressure-packed situation. And he did not disappoint. Christian Dietrich landed his drive 15 feet away at the bottom of the mound where the awaiting target seemed to peer down in pleasure. The disc kneeled politely before its final destination and before making its final conquering flight for Dietrich's deuce putt. This put Dietrich back up by one throw over Locastro; a lead he would never relinquish, but that would continue to be challenged.
Locastro immediately continued his assault on Dietrich's lead on hole 16, as a crouching Nikko held his awkward stance long enough to drill a clutch 13-foot putt on his third throw and put the pressure back on Dietrich. Along with Nate Doss, Locastro and Dietrich shared almost identical lies. In what came as close to disc golf "HORSE" as a tournament scenario could be, Doss too was forced to squat down under the heavy branches and brush protecting the basket of 16 and buried his putt after Locastro. Not to be outdone, Dietrich also canned the putt, keeping his main rivals at arms length in preparation for the last two holes.
The only remaining tension of the final round was a tedious 25-foot putt that Dietrich had to drop on hole 17 to preserve his one-throw advantage. With a slight tilt and a confident pace, the 2010 Beaver State Champion rang the chains loud and clear to preserve his lead and his first career PDGA National Tour win.
Even Dietrich admitted that this win was unexpected, as the recent completion of law school has restricted his play. The Fling is only the fifth PDGA-sanctioned event of Dietrich's season, winning two smaller events, but finishing 25th at The Memorial Championship and 24th last week at the Masters Cup. Yet, bringing home the win from Oregon on this weekend is a testament to the incredible disc golf talent that is emerging in our sport. The key now will be creating events like the Beaver State Fling to coerce that talent to play their hands at disc golf's biggest events.