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Alternate Throw Leaves Only Nine Teams Under Par After Am World Doubles Opening Day

Defending MA50 champion Jack Tabor teeing off at Selah Ranch. Photo: Dee Leekha.

The competitors at the 2018 PDGA Amateur World Doubles Championships avoided the predicted thunderstorms for most of the day, and in the Advanced Division, the top players were the ones who could weather the Alternate Throw format during the afternoon round. Alex Ferreira and Luke Humphries (North Dallas Development Program) shot an impressive 4-under par 64 on the Texas Twist course Friday afternoon to take the lead. Close on their heels were Brandon Malecek and Andrew Brown (Ultra-Stars), who began the day in second place after a strong round of Best Throw. They managed to hold their second place spot by day's end, but their Alternate Throw round of 3-over par 64 left them five strokes off the lead.

The morning round action on the Trey-Deuce course saw Albert Bravo and Joe Cotez (West Texas Zombies) of the Advanced division B-Pool taking charge with an 8-under par 56 while playing the Best Score format, but they struggled to a 5-over par 73 after lunch, finishing the day in third place alongside Jeff Plaisance and Jacob Horning (Jeff and Jacob). The Alternate Throw format, known by many as simply “Hate Your Partner,” is a true test of patience, strategy, and team unity. Over the 28 years of this event, Alternate Throw has ruined the weekends of many talented teams. Despite many teams starting the day under par, the Alternate Throw afternoon round left only seven of them finishing under par overall on the day.

As the afternoon wore on, the Texas wind picked up. On TexasTwist, a beautiful 9,000-foot-plus beast with a water hazard creek in play on 12 of the 18 holes, mistakes can be costly, even on calm days. Despite the gusting winds, the entire Advanced field powered through the afternoon and are now hoping for two calmer rounds of Best Throw on Saturday on both of the gorgeous Selah Ranch courses: Selah Lakeside and Selah Creekside.

The 40+ Am Masters started their weekend with Alternate Throw on Texas Twist, and the only two teams to start under par were the only two teams to finish the day under par, as well. Adam Bailey and Mark Berry (Dos Gringos) went 1-under par during the morning round and followed it up with a 4-under par during the afternoon round of Best Throw to take a two-stroke lead over Russel Shoffner and Robert Hammond (Shouldalaidup), who went 2-under and 1-under, respectively. The 40+ Am Masters will also spend their Saturday playing Best Throw at Selah Ranch.

Unlike the Advanced and 40+ Am Masters, the Intermediate, 50+ Am Masters, and 60+ Am Masters divisions did not make it through the day without a lightning delay. When the horn sounded, a majority of the teams had roughly five holes to go. After the required 30 minutes of waiting, everything had cleared up and play resumed. Mike Anderson and A Ray (Metal Collectors) finished the day four ahead of defending champs Jack Tabor and Kevin Curran (On Any Sunday), who gave up four strokes when they built a watery snowman on hole 16 at Selah Creekside. The leaders know better than to be overconfident after giving up a big lead in 2017. We can only expect that they'll be extremely focused on the Trey Texas Ranch courses on Saturday. 

Kirk Cunningham and Dan Foy (Dynamic Duo), who came back hard last year and took the champs into a six-hole sudden-death playoff, finished the day nine off the lead, but they know they have what it takes to get back on top. In the 60+ division, Bart Taylor and Fred Needham (Bart & Bagger) played like 50-year-olds all day and went to bed at 3-under par. All of the elder competitors will get to wake up and smell the Twist on Saturday, joined by the Intermediate division, hoping that pars and love will prevail in the Alternate Throw round.

Speaking of Intermediate, John Davison & Caleb McKearan (Chain Bombers 2.0) put together two very solid rounds to end the day at -17, three better than the teams tied for second place: Caleb Hines & Matthew Tria (Basketcase DG) and Robbie Sypert & Jeff Coyne (SpaceCakeRevolution!). 

After being tested on all four John Houck-designed courses in Mt. Vernon, Texas, the top teams in every division will have a Sunday final that combines three formats: Best Throw, Best Score, and the friendship-straining Worst Throw. Only then, having excelled on a variety of courses in a variety of formats through a variety of weather conditions, can a team be named PDGA Amateur World Doubles Champion.

The 2018 PDGA Amateur World Doubles Championships is presented by Innova and HouckDesign and supported by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Mt. Vernon, and the Franklin County Industrial Foundation.

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