The Memorial Championship is a very special tournament, for many reasons. It’s the first National Tour event of the year and it’s in arguably the best city, weather-wise, that you could possibly play disc golf in during February in the United States. Throw in an amazing course like Fountain Hills and an always awesome player’s pack for all divisions, and it’s easy to see why so many big names and great players from all over the world show up.
This year had an element involved that made it even more important, in a truly tragic and unfortunate way. Hole 1 at Vista Del Camino explains it all. A large picture of the familiar face of Sue Ginnelly sits just left of the tee pad to remind everyone of her battle with stomach cancer over the last year and a half. She and her husband, hall of fame disc golfer Dan Ginnelly, built the world of disc golf in Arizona from the ground up and have run this tournament for the past 24 years. They also opened one of the world’s first disc golf pro shops, Spinners On The Green. On this, the 25th anniversary of The Memorial Championships, the one truly being memorialized is certainly Sue Ginnelly. Players and friends can pay their respects on hole 1 which is now blanketed with flowers beneath the photo of her smiling face.
The day was interesting to say the least. The weather was near perfect, with the only issue being a little bit of wind. But, that can be expected out here this time of year. Wind is always an issue, as is your ability to learn to play the skip. Despite what you might think, the grass in Arizona is brown, dead, and rock hard during the months with weather where most plants across the country would thrive. If you don’t account for how far your disc is going to skip, you’ll eventually skip right past the basket, probably into water or some other form of OB.
The Open division for the women added 5 more players to the division compared to last year with a total of 23. Paige Pierce finished with the hot round shooting a 54 with an unofficial rating of 1036. A 54 is 6 under against the par 60 XL layout at Vista Del Camino. To put that in perspective, Ken Climo shot a 55 for the day on the same course with the exact same tee pads and basket positions. Paige was also the only women to shoot a negative round today at Vista Del Camino. The next best score was 3x world champion Valarie Jenkins with a 1 over par. Brittany Blair and Sarah Hokom finshed 3rd and 4th with a +2 and +3, respectively. Newcomer Zoe Andyke made a name for herself by shooting a 66, tying her in 6th with the likes of Liz Lopez-Dorries, Catrina Ulibarri, and Kristine King.
Nikko Locastro finished on top for the day in the Open men’s division with an unofficially rated 1118 round after birdieing 16 out of the 18 holes on the Vista XL layout. Ricky Wysocki shot a 14 down to finish in 2nd and Gregg Barsby finished the day in 3rd with a 13 down after taking an eagle on one of the longest par 4’s on the course. Feldberg and McBeth are tied for 4th with a 12 under par. 33 different players in the Open men's division finished above 1000 rated, unofficially. Does it get more competitive than that? We’ll find out in the days to come...
You can find pictures from the day on Flickr; watch live streaming video this week courtesy of DiscGolfPlanet.tv; follow the action on Twitter via @pdgalive and live hole-by-hole live scoring of the lead cards right here on PDGA.com.