The Paige and Paul Show
The 32nd Kansas City Wide Open (KCWO) officially came to end on Sunday evening as Paul McBeth and Paige Pierce tapped in for their third PDGA National Tour victories of the year. After three days of walking some of the largest courses on the tour, often more than once, it was a long weekend to say the least. The 90+ degree weather certainly didn’t make the weekend any less demanding for the competitors and staff, but we all made it out alive and well.
The second round took place at one of the largest 18-hole courses in the world, Blue Valley Park (BVP), and with that brought many changes to the leaderboards. Paul McBeth #27523 and Catrina Allen #44184 would finish their rounds at Blue Valley as the leaders going into the final round but they wouldn’t have much of a cushion separating them from the competitors behind them. Ricky Wysocki #38008 and JohnE McCray #9852 were tied for second place just three strokes away from McBeth with Nate Doss #11794 and Cale Leiviska #24341 right on their heels. Allen would have to deal with much of the same type of pressure as Paige Pierce #29190, Val Jenkins #17495, and Ragna Bygde #8559 were all within striking distance as well.
The final round took place at the most difficult course of the weekend, the Swope Gold layout at Swope Park. Swope Gold was the shortest of the three courses played at the KCWO, but you’d never think that was the case had you played or walked it. With a par of 60 on an 18-hole layout and a total distance of over 8400 feet, to label it as a short course would be pretty ridiculous. What it lacked in distance compared to the other two courses it more than made up for with difficulty. Out-of-bounds lines were painted on every fairway, “easy” holes were made into islands, and the already lengthy holes from the normal layout were made even longer and more complex.
Allen started the day on top of her card by the narrowest of margins but it wouldn’t last long. After the round, Pierce said “I feel like I played close to perfect.” Other than out-of-bounds penalties on holes 3 and 10, she was on top of her game the entire round. When she made a mistake, she found a way to quickly make up for it. After missing the birdie opportunity on hole 3 due to the OB penalty, she hit a huge jump putt for birdie shortly after on hole 5, an 1100’ par 5. She then ran off two more birdies in the next three holes to open up a lead on Allen that would remain with her the rest of the day.
Of the women competing, only the top three would advance to the finals. After Val Jenkins had all but guaranteed her second place spot towards the end of the round, the battle for the third spot heated up between Allen and Bygde. In the end, Allen would secure third place thus guaranteeing her spot in the supergroup finals with Pierce and Jenkins.
Before the full round begain in the morning, I asked McBeth who he thought had the best chance to catch him. His response was, “Everyone on the card.” With Wysocki, McCray, Doss, Leiviska all chasing after him on the five-some, that’s probably the smartest attitude to have. If he was worried, it didn’t show. He birdied 7 of the first 10 holes, including a 5-hole run on holes 6-10. The first mistake he made off the tee was on hole 18, throwing his driver out of bounds 100 feet short of the basket. If you thought his bogey-free round was about to end, you were wrong. He nailed the 100+ foot uphill jump putt to save par in front of the steadily gworing gallery.
The men’s chase card was creating some buzz during the round as well. Paul Ulibarri #27171 and Joe Rovere #30306 were both on fire. They stayed on a steady pace to take the 3rd and 4th place spots away from Doss and Leiviska all round. On the tee of the 18th hole, Doss took a peak at PDGALive.com to see how he and Leiviska (now tied for 3rd on the lead card) were doing compared to the chase card. He saw that Ulibarri and Rovere were both at -22 through 16 holes, meaning they were two strokes ahead of him and one ahead of Leiviska. After seeing those scores he turned and said, “So...we’re out of it [the finals].” I responded with, “Not yet…” but he had already walked away to tell Cale the news.
What Doss didn’t know at the time was that Ulibarri and Rovere had both just bogeyed the 18th hole. Had he asked me what their scores were 30 seconds later than he did, it might have changed the results of the entire tournament. With just one hole to go for each of the cards, Doss was now a birdie away from being in a 4-way tie for third place with Leiviska, Ulibarri, Rovere.
Doss crushed his drive up the fairway of 18, a 410 foot uphill par 3. He would be last to putt as his disc was easily the closest to pin, 30 feet or so short of the basket. As they walked up to thier putts from the tee, they had to pause to watch the chase card tee off on the adjacent fairway of hole one. Rovere’s disc flew out of bounds, and those that were paying attention to the scores on PDGALive.com held their breath as Doss stepped up to putt. Doss nailed the putt and whether he knew it or not, he had just secured himself a spot in the finals.
The finals were amazing. Kansas City never lets us down when it comes to getting spectators out to watch. Hundreds of people lined the fairways and roared as the three women and five men battled their way through the 9-hole layout. McBeth and Pierce never gave anyone the opportunity to catch them and they both were able to tap in worry-free on the last hole in front of an amazed crowd of fans, friends, family, teammates, and fellow competitors.
When the official results are added to the National Tour Elite Series, McBeth will have a 35 point lead over Wysokci with just four more events to go. With this win, Pierce will now be in the lead once again having surpassed Allen by 7. The next stop on the tour, the Maple Hill Open (formerly the Vibram Open), starts on July 3rd in Leicaster, MA on the infamous Maple Hill Gold DGC.
A huge thank you goes out to the Tournament Director Dick Parker #20250, the rest of the tournament staff, the volunteers, and all of the sponsors that helped make the 32nd Kansas City Wide Open such an incredible disc golf event. To view and/or download high-resolution photos from the KCWO, stop by the PDGA Flickr page or upload your own photos from the weekend to the PDGA group on Flickr!