There She Goes. Turn The Paige.
Anyone that checked the weather forecast last night was probably not looking forward to the final round of the Texas State Championships today at Old Settlers' Park. The wind was somehow forecasted to be even stronger than the first round on Friday, but with the added punishment of colder temperatures and potential precipitation. Thankfully the rain never showed up, but the continuous 25mph-30mph wind ensured that even the most seasoned competitors would never have an easy drive, approach, or putt.
The Open division and the Open Masters division can both be summarized with a very similar synopsis. In the Open Masters division, Patrick Brown (#25713) started the day 10 throws ahead of then second place Iowa native Eddie McCulley (#21251) and would finish the tournament with an 11 throw lead over Eddie without ever giving much of a chance to get within striking distance of the lead.
Much like Patrick Brown, Ricky Wysocki (#38008) lead the Open division from the get go. He threw lights out on the first day and never looked back. As the wind blasted the competitors on the lead and chase card, Ricky continued to get through each hole without any dramatic errors. He played bogey-free golf until hole 16, which is actually the 19th hole on the course out of 21 total. He finished the day 5 under par, which believe it or not was the best round shot by anyone that played the course today. The extreme wind today proved to be too much for many players to handle, and furthermore it made a comeback on Ricky that much more difficult of a feat. Ricky took home his first National Tour Elite Series victory of 2014, winning by 8 over second place finisher Simon Lizotte (#8332) and by 12 over third place finisher Paul McBeth (#27523).
The real story of the day was the showdown between Prodigy Disc teammates Paige Pierce (#29190) and Catrina Allen (#44184). Paige started the round just a single throw ahead of Catrina and they would swap the lead a few different times throughout the round. With 10 holes to go, Catrina had gained enough momentum to put her 3 ahead of Paige. It stayed that way until hole 14, which was actually the 17th hole of the 21 holes on the course, when Paige naild a 65' jump putt to gain a throw back on Catrina.
Two holes later on the 1000' par 5 Paige threw a perfect 300' approach that caught the wind just right and faded all the way to inside the circle, leaving her with a 10 foot birdie putt to gain yet another on Catrina. Paige teed off first on the final hole, still a throw behind Catrina, leaving herself in a good position to lay up and take a par. Catrina followed off the tee but the wind caught her disc, turned it over, and she flew towards the out of bounds parking lot.
As we walked up the hill we found her disc had stayed inbounds by a few inches. Catrina's upshot had awkward footing but being the amazing golfer that she is, she managed to get it out to a reasonable position. Paige laid up and Catrina was forced to do the same as the basket was still 30' away and pinned right up against the out of bounds road behind it. She had no choice but to allow the playoff. The risk of going out of bounds on the putt with the wind gusting at over 30mph was too much of a chance to take.
The playoff had an anti-climactic finish as Catrina's par putt on hole 2 from 15' hit the chains dead center, and spit out. Paige had already tossed her approach to right under the pin and that was that. Game over. It was somewhat of an unfortunate finish to a 3 day long battle but overall it was absolutely awesome to watch. The best part is, the fans of disc golf can expect this kind of back and forth fight to the finish between them all year. There's no doubt at this point that they're two of the best women disc golfers the sport has ever seen and they'll continue to break records, destroy incredibly difficult courses, and entertain the fans of the sport.
Congratulations to all the division winners of the Texas State Championships. The next stop on the National Tour Elite Series, the "Steady" Ed Masters Cup at the infamous De Laveaga disc golf course, is only 6 weeks away!
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