The Fun & Games Are Over
After months and months of waiting, the main event of the 2014 PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships presented by Keen finally starts tomorrow morning. As with every major disc golf event, the days leading up to the singles competition have been filled with an assortment of activities for competitors and spectators alike. Blue Lake Park has served as the host to a majority of the fun and games, including the disc golf field events, a free pro clinic featuring Paige Pierce #29190 and Nate Sexton #18824, the opening ceremonies and players meeting, and The Battle At Blue Lake exhibition match put on by SmashBoxxTV and their partner, Legacy Discs.
The field events consisted of three different events: Distance Competition, Putting Competition, and the SkillShot Challenge presented by the Educational Disc Golf Experience (EDGE).
The distance competition is the most basic of the field events. Players are given five attempts to throw any disc of their choice as far as possible. Assuming the disc lands in the designated area, which was about 200 feet wide this year, it counts. It is then measured via a laser-based distance finder and recorded. The wind was calm and conditions on the field were nearly perfect, and hundreds of discs took to the air and with the help of a team of volunteers, their distances were recorded with the distance finder. The longest throw of the day, a staggering 657 feet, was thrown by none other than the current world record holder, David Wiggins Jr. #24437. Paige Pierce had the longest drive in the Open Women’s division with a toss of 450 feet. A total of 18 spots were paid out across the seven divisions which had competitors.
The putting competition involved nine baskets each with a long, medium, and short-range putt worth 3, 2, and 1 point, respectively. If the putt is made, the player earns the respective point(s) and moves on to the next putt. If it’s missed, the player is given a second chance to make it. If the second chance is made, the player earns 0 points and moves on to the next. If the second chance is missed, the player earns -1. Essentially, missing is bad; missing a second chance, is worse. A perfect score is 54.
We can’t announce all of the winners just yet, as the Men and Women’s 50 & Under divisions both have to compete in a putting finals match tomorrow night at 8pm PDT at the Flymart. Paige Pierce and Des Reading #15863 will be up first, followed by Nikko Locastro #11534 competing against Steve Rico #4666. Karen Brown #19400 and Sheila Kirkham #7646 both tied for first in the Women’s Over 50 division with a score of 17 to take home the gold. Dan Rea #26241 earned his win in the Men’s Over 50 division with a total score of 28.
The EDGE SkillShot Challenge is put together by EDGE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting children involved with disc golf all over the country. They put on demonstrations at elementary and middle schools, bringing the SkillShot challenge with them to teach the youngsters about the sport. As an added bonus, the kids have a fun way to practice their basic math skills after taking measurements and adding up their scores.
EDGE has established 20 different types of skill shots for the challenge, with 3-4 skill tests per basket, referred to by the signage as Stations 1-6. Each station requires either a backhand, forehand, roller, upside-down throw, throw from a knee, freestyle, or some combination of those from different distances, often with obstacles in the way. Any shot that is made counts as -5, and any throw that is missed is measured to the nearest foot, with the amount of feet counting as one's score. Less is more in this game, as the goal is to be as close to the basket as possible if you miss.
The divisions were split up in the same way as the putting competition. David Greenwell #962 has won this field event many times before and he did it again this year in the Men’s Over 50 division with a total score of 142. Josh Childs #13007 was the winner in the Men’s 50 & Under division, the largest field of competition by far, with a score of 145; meaning that Greenwell would have won in that division as well. Carrie Berlogar #13815 was the winner for the Women’s 50 & Under division with a score of 239 and Sandy Gast #6440 was victorious in the Women’s Over 50 division with a score of 319.
The Battle At Blue Lake
The Battle At Blue Lake was an exhibition match featuring four of the best disc golfers in the world: Ken Climo #4297, Paul McBeth #27523, Steve Rico #4666, and Paul Ulibarri #27171. It was the first of its kind in the history of PDGA Majors and it was an experiment that turned out to be nothing short of spectacular. The exhibition match was the brainchild of Legacy Discs owner Steve Rico and it was streamed live on YouTube on SmashBoxxTV’s channel.
Rico wanted to help build the hype of the world championships by showcasing a preview of what the world can expect to see. The four of them battled the massive 18-hole layout of Blue Lake and those that watched were able to see a fun and casual side of disc golf not often seen by the general public. The guys ripped through the course without the pressure of true competition. It was genuinely one of the most fun, and funniest, rounds of disc golf we’ve witnessed in a long time.
What we also witnessed was Paul McBeth shooting 14 under par, with a bogey and an missed birdie putt from inside the circle. For a casual round, or a competitive round, that’s just plain ridiculous. If he plays the way he did today during an exhibition round, he will be extremely tough to beat. Is a three-peat possible? Definitely. Is it going to be easy? Absolutely not.
Round one starts at 9:00am PDT tomorrow morning with the different divisions spread out across the six courses being used for Pro Worlds. DiscGolfPlanet will be following the Open Women’s feature card and live streaming the action all day long. We’ll have live scoring up and running for Open, Open Women, and Masters on PDGALive.com and plenty of updates, pictures, and videos coming in via @PDGA and @PDGALive on Twitter.
Disc golf doesn’t get any bigger or better than this. #2014ProWorlds is finally upon us.
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