The Thrill of Maple Hill
The Vibram Open at Maple Hill Farm in Leicester, Massachusetts is one of the most highly anticipated tournaments of the year. Not only is the course at Maple Hill one of the most picturesque and amusing courses the players see all season, it is also possibly the most challenging. It is the perfect place to test the will and determination of the world’s fiercest competitors. Appropriately, the Open wraps up the National Tour Elite Series presented by Vibram, which means there are winners of the event, but there are also Champions of the National Tour. As we bring the season to a close, Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen in the women’s division and Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki in the men’s division are both separated by a mere two points. This spreads a thick layer of drama on top of this already impressive dessert of an event.
As day one began, the players were treated to some gorgeous late-summer Massachusetts weather. Tee times started early and the ladies were the first out on the course. With the top five points leaders all in attendance, it was extremely important to get off to a good start. On a course where two over par is rated over 1000, Sarah Hokom did just that. With her big sidearm and deft putting, she cruised into the clubhouse with a solid round of 62, just three strokes above par. Sarah wasn’t the only one to come in with a hot round, however, as Des Reading is right on her heels just two strokes back. The reigning NT champion, Catrina Allen, is just one behind Des and a potential star in the making, Miss Kelsey Wilmerding rounds out the lead card after a first round 66. Paige is one back of Kelsey, and has some work to do if she wants to hang on to the lead in the Drive for the Championship.
In the men’s division, players were invited based on a number of qualifiers, such as local play-in events, past Vibram or Marshall Street Disc Golf Championship events, touring professionals, NT points leaders, etc. There were also five spots up for grabs as several players attempted to play themselves into the tournament yesterday, with the five top scores earning a bid into the big dance. All this boils down to one of the toughest fields in the game. Devin Frederick from Pennsylvania jumped out to an early lead, shooting an amazing 53, six strokes under par. He’s got two familiar faces just one stroke behind him in recently crowned and repeat world champion Paul McBeth and Tennessee’s Will Schusterick. Canton, Michigan’s Geoff Bennett, who plays in seemingly more events than anyone on the planet, sits tied for fourth place with up-and-comer Cameron Colglazier and finds himself on a lead card of a National Tour Event. A gamut of the game’s brightest stars sits at -3, eight of them, to be exact. Ricky Wysocki is four behind Paul, so if he wants to surpass McBeast in the points race, he needs to make up some ground. With three rounds to go, there is still plenty of time.
As round two begins tomorrow, the men will lead off and the women will take the main stage in the afternoon as all the action will be brought to you live by discgolfplanettv.com. Also, be sure to check into PDGA.com for tee times, live scoring, updates and pictures of this beautiful slice of disc golf heaven. As the tension mounts, so will the excitement. Stick around…it’s gonna be a good one!