Sitting On Top Of The World
At the moment when the final card stepped up to their finishing hole emotions began to surge. Their hearts pounding with nervous excitement. Adrenaline surging through their bodies. The entire week has led up to this hole. Players have played seven full rounds of disc golf in scorching heat combined with a steady wind whipping the courses. Every player experienced the difficulty of the courses on display, and every player battled the Kansas temperatures in July. Only a select few have made it this far.
The basket for the final hole stands on an island 285 feet away and surrounded by a beautiful pond. Its green is small, fast, and difficult to judge from the tee pad. In can be birdied or it can punish anyone who misjudges the touch on their shot. It was a beautifully constructed ending to a wonderful week of tournament disc golf at the 2013 PDGA Amateur and Junior World Championships in Emporia, KS. When most players threw their final shot they left without a title. For very few this island green made them a 2013 World Champion.
In the Advanced Men division Steven Jacobs stormed everyone after falling short in his first round of play to become the 2013 Advanced Men World Champion. He consistently whipped the rest of the field until his lead was comfortable enough to play safe. Yet, even at this point he still separated himself from most of the pack. This was a mission for Jacobs. He wanted a title and it was easy to tell. His game was in top form and his concentration never wavered.
He finished second at the United States Amateur Disc Golf Championships losing by four. So, when he stepped into the competition he approached it with an appetite for victory. This fire inside him lifted him well above the rest. When he walked from the final green at the Emporia Country club he had accomplished his goal and he had done it with a large margin of victory. His closest competitor sat 11 throws behind him and he had earned a title. He was a World Champion.
The Advanced Women division experienced a completely different style of event. Instead of one player taking the lead, running, and never looking back the women were in a tight battle all week. When Colleen Thompson of Normal, IL approached the tee pad for her first hole of the final round she sat behind the leader by three throws. When she walked off the final green she was the 2013 Advanced Women World Champion.
This division was a tight race from beginning to end. Three different competitors took hold of the lead throughout the tournament. Each hole was important, and no lead was safe. The importance of every throw was significant on each and every shot. When these ladies approached the final pad Thompson was tied for the lead with Arizona native Kimmy Jones. She was also only one stroke in front of Nicole Cazares who had the lead entering the final round. Jones left herself with a challenging putt to earn the victory and did not convert. Cazares set herself just right on the green and earned the birdie. To win it, Thompson threw a great shot under pressure and she hit the putt dead center.
Another division that experienced a stout battle for first was the Advanced Masters division. Here Keith Walker entered the final round holding on to a three throw lead. The other competitors in his division were not ready to let him run with it though. Eric Jubin of Missouri City, TX put the pressure on as the round unfolded. Walker made a big mistake on hole five and opened the gap for Jubin to make a move. He took a three followed by gaining another throw on the very next hole. He now sat behind Walker by one. This was where they sat entering that pesky final hole. Walker threw his shot a little to the left and was forced to hit a long putt near the water’s edge. He slammed the putt and became the 2013 Advanced Masters World Champion.
In the Advanced Masters Women division Michelle Jones grabbed a hold of the lead on Friday and held it until the very end. She distanced herself from the field in the sixth round and made the final nine holes her chance to play safe disc golf and maintain her lead. When she crossed the bridge from that final green, she crossed it the 2013 Advanced Masters Women World Champion.
This was her third event of the year and her third victory. She was also the 2012 Advanced Masters Women United States Women’s Disc Golf Championships victor.
In the Advanced Grandmasters division Ron Robertson took hold of the lead in the fourth round and carried it from there. He maintained his spot and played solid disc golf all week leading to that final moment. In the final round he was up by five with nine holes to go. When all was said and done he gained the title 2013 Advanced Grandmasters World Champion, winning by four throws.
In yet another tight race the final hole came into play and nearly changed the outcome of the Advanced Grandmasters Women division. Here SueB Lande approached her final tee shot with caution trying to protect her three throw lead. She attempted a touch shot to lay her drive safely and throw an approach across the pond for her second shot. Instead she misjudged her drive and threw it out of bounds. She proceeded to take a five on the hole while her only competitor in the finals round. Cindy McMahan, carded a three. This small mistake almost cost Lande the title, but in the end she was victorious. She walked away from Emporia with the title of 2013 Advanced Grandmasters Women World Champion.
In the Advanced Senior Grandmasters division Jim Banbury handily defeated his competition throughout this grinder of a week. His closest competitor sat behind him with a seven throw separation. His play all week had given him with the opportunity to play the course as naturally and safely as he could. He never needed to press during the final round. All he needed to do was maintain his lead. He left the Country Club with the title of 2013 Advanced Senior Grandmasters World Champion.
In the Juniors Under 19 Boys division an upcoming star was featured. Virginia resident Austin Pfaff came out on fire and never let another competitor have a chance. He steadily shot well under par and finished at an astounding 21 throw lead over his closest competitor. His smooth play and finishing touch earned him the title 2013 Junior Under Nineteen World Champion. He did it at the age of 16.
Pfaff has already taken victories in both Advanced and Open this year. He declined cash during his open victory to remain Amateur. He has also already ran small tournaments in his local area. His future in the game is going to be a strong future.
In the Junior Under 16 Boys division another up and coming star was featured. Here Nicholas Duran of Arizona jumped out and took the victory by nine throws. This tournament earned him his third World Champion title. He had already won multiple titles in the Junior Under 10 Boys division and won the Juniors Under 13 Boys World Champion title shortly after. So far he has taken world titles in all three age brackets. He will be a force in the game soon. He is already a top notch amateur.
There are great golfers in the world, and there are naturals. When you see that pure talent and that well framed mindset you are looking at a seasoned player. Every year chances pop up to see the future. This year was no different.
Anthony Barela of Arizona approached the long drive competition smiling and laughing. He is a child still glowing with youth. He stepped back and fired a smooth turnaround drive to put maximum power behind his shot. It boomed from his hands and sailed a mind blowing 510 feet. This was the first chance to showcase his natural talent.
He carried this showcase through the tournament as he won the Juniors Under 13 Boys division by 17 throws. He is a beast on the course and has just gotten started. He meticulously worked the courses and demonstrated an amazing skill for a boy of his age. When he made mistakes he quickly recovered and showed great course maturity. It looks as if he not only thrives at the game, but he absolutely loves it. He is a talent that will quickly blossom into a great player and he is the 2013 Junior Under 13 Boys World Champion.
During the final nine the first card that approached the first tee was a heartwarming start to the finals day. The remaining competitors of Juniors Under Ten Boys and the remaining Advanced Legends Men were playing together. The combination could not have been better for the youngsters. They had a chance to see these spry older gents tackling the difficult course. The group gave a breath of optimism and fun to the stressful environment that has taken over the competition. During this card our oldest and our youngest male competitors were fighting for the title World Champion.
During this round the Juniors Under Ten Boys division was represented by California youngster Jacob Courtis and Texas resident Conall Stillwagon. As the card approached hole one Stillwagon was in the lead by five. He steadily played the course for a boy his age and held onto the victory winning by three throws becoming the 2013 Junior under 10 Boys World Champion.
In the Advanced Legends division Pete May handily won his title. He swept his division by beating them in every round all week. He clearly came there to win. He was well practiced and filled with energy. His personality was a perfect mesh with the young disc golfers who shared this final nine experience. He became the 2013 Advanced Legends World Champion beating his closest competitor by 16 throws.
The Junior girls finished on Friday and were spectators for the semifinals and the finals. In the Junior Under 19 Girls division Alex Liebman was the champion. In the Junior Under 16 Girls division Alex Lambert was the champion. Last but absolutely not least, Michelle Nava won the Junior Under 13 Girls division.
This 2013 PDGA Amateur and World Championships was a fantastic show to witness. From the starting hole on each of the five courses on Tuesday to the finishing island on Saturday players showcased their talent. This gathering of competitive talent is not matched in the disc golf world and this event was as fun as ever.
Congratulations to each and every World Champion in 2013!
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