Looks like a 39 in Round 1 would have been rated about 1029 due to very slightly easier conditions (0.3 throws) on Wednesday than during McBeth's record round. The SSA at Fountain Hills during the Memorial has been very stable over the years with the exception of a few wild weather rounds there. Fun thing about that course for even amateurs who play it regularly. They likely have birdied all of the holes Paul did at one time or another. However, as Paul mentions, being able to do them all in one round is exceptionally special.
March 2, 2013, started like any regular day for Paul McBeth. He woke up on the road, in Arizona, and ate a basic breakfast – probably yogurt, he said, because he was less sensitive to dairy back then – and headed to Fountain Hills for the final round of the Memorial Championship.
A closer look, though, reveals that day wasn’t ever going to be “regular.” It’s not often that McBeth, who at the time was coming off his first of four consecutive PDGA World Championship titles, is far enough back on the leaderboard to play on the fifth card. And it’s not often that he declares his intentions to shoot in the 30s in order to claw his way back up the leaderboard.
But that’s where he was, and that’s what he did. And so, five years later, McBeth’s 1132-rated 17-under par 39 at Fountain Hills stands tall as the highest rated round in professional disc golf history.
With McBeth set to again tackle that track on the five year anniversary of his historic feat, we asked him to look back at that round and share his thoughts. The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Do you remember how you felt that day?
I know I had won the first two Memorials, or the two previous years. So I mean, coming to this tournament and not being really in contention – I think I was fifth or seventh card – it was kinda disappointing at that point. But I just had that “Never give up” attitude, you know? I was like, “There’s still a chance. Most people are shooting 12s, I’m probably about five or six back. If I really unleash something, I still have a chance.” Back then people were shooting 10s to 12s, you know? Those were the hot rounds, so I knew it was possible if I unleashed something, and I knew it was possible there.
What was different from that round and others you’ve played at Fountain Hills? What were you able to tap into that day? You were parking most everything and didn’t really have to hit any long putts.
I think there might have been maybe three outside the circle that I hit and then one that almost dropped, but two inches low. But yeah, I was driving really well. I was focused a lot on the tee shots. It was just being aggressive the whole time. Back then – even then I was like, “No, I still want to try and win this, I don’t care what place I get,” which has just always been my mindset. Like last week [at the Las Vegas Challenge] I was going for the win. I don’t care if – if I don’t win, I don’t care where I finish.
I just had that mindset going into it, and every time I birdied I was like, “OK, I can go a little bit harder on the next one.” Continue to be aggressive, continue to take the tougher lines and not worry about the water. So I was able to keep that up the whole way through the round, and that’s something nobody really gets to do out at Fountain.
What happened on the one you missed, the 406-foot hole 9?
It’s still a crazy hole. They called it a par three back then, and it was a little more difficult back then because there were two trees. I kinda went for it – I kinda went for it a little more than I ever have. I don’t go for that hole. I don’t like that hole because it’s kinda like a [par] three and a half. I think there were only two twos on it this year. It’s kind of – not really a good hole. But that day I kinda went for it, you know? I went for it more than I ever had. I put it about 40 feet and just an inch or two low, and it kinda careened off the basket. Luckily it didn’t roll into the water and kinda stopped. Got my three, but that still felt like a birdie on that course.
The wildest part of the whole day was the playoff. Will Schusterick failed to total his scorecard, and you two went to a playoff, which he ultimately won.
Take me back to that moment. You go that big, you shoot this record round, and you would think in most scenarios you would have won the tournament. What was that whole process, and how it played out at the end, like mentally?
That was the inception of Prodigy [Disc], you know? That was the first year they came out, too. There was that whole thing about, you know, I didn’t join with them, you know? I was in the talks with them, I heard all about it when it was coming up. They wanted me to be part of their team and I turned it down with [Eric] McCabe, and now you can see we’re both – he’s like the face of [Dynamic Discs] and I’m the face of Innova, and all these other players went to Prodigy.
That was a whole bunch of drama with me not going with them and then being in that situation. They were throwing all sorts of companies’ discs, they were throwing whatever they want, but they were chanting “Prodigy! Prodigy!” They were like, “This wouldn’t be possible without Prodigy,” blah blah blah. It was kinda – it kinda started that rivalry between all of us. It was kind of a "me versus them"-type mentality, and they were winning at that moment.
And yeah, just the chaos – they were too busy celebrating rather than adding up scores. But that changed the game, you know? It kinda changed how everyone – at least for me. Like, I know Terry [Miller] does it a lot, but he’s like, “Oh, let’s get an interview.” I’m like, “No, Terry, I’m gonna do my score first, and then we can do whatever.” But a lot of people get caught in the moment and want to do it. So if I’m on the lead card I make sure. I’m like, “Eagle, like, let’s get your score before you do this interview,” like when [McMahon won] last weekend.
You’ve won four world titles and piled up numerous other accomplishments over the years. Where does that 1132-rated round stand for you on the career highlight reel?
It’s up there, you know? It’s huge. It won’t be forgotten anytime soon, until it’s broken. Not only do I have that one, but I also have the one at Maple Hill, which is the second highest rated round ever. Those two are held pretty high.
It’s always something to go out there and shoot for, you know? Even if I’m winning the tournament, I’m like, “Well, I still have a 17 here that I can beat” or whatever. It’ll always be talked about as long as that course is used, along with Maple Hill. It’s a pretty big accomplishment.
Do you think anyone will ever outdo it, whether it’s you or someone else?
I don’t think they can outdo it because of that dumb hole 9. They can tie it, but I don’t see them beating it. I think it’s possible to tie. Anyone can go off for 18 holes and just throw 18 perfect holes. I say anyone – I don’t know. It’s crazy. I think a lot of people are capable of it, but it takes a lot to do it for 18 straight holes.
Last question, be honest: Do you ever go back and watch the video of the round to hype yourself up?
No I haven’t (laughs), but maybe I should this week. Maybe it’ll help going into the third round.
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