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Bradley Williams Takes First NT Title in Sudden Death at Vibram Open

Wow. What a day. The morning began with an intensely close race for the 2016 Vibram Open title in the Open Women’s division between Paige Pierce #29190 and Catrina Allen #44184, with Paige sealing the deal on the 18th hole.  We knew we were in for a similar situation in the Open division, but we had no idea just how close the fight to the finish would be.

The round began and ended in the same way, with Bradley Williams #31644 at the top of the leaderboard. Brad hit a huge putt on the 18th green to finish Round 3 as the lone leader and he would eventually spend most of the day today trying to gain it back. Joining him for the finals was Cale Leiviska #24341, Michael Johansen #20300, and Devan Owens #25168.

Leiviska, Johansen, and Williams spent most of the front nine trading the lead, with Devan getting off to a slow start and falling down in the rankings. At no point during the round did anyone ever lead by more than two, and at the same time, no one from the chase card ever got within any sort of real striking range.

Bradley Williams with a great birdie putt on Hole 10.

On the very long and difficult par 4 Hole 12, Cale took a birdie 3 that would secure a lead of two over Bradley with only the last six holes remaining. Unfortunately for Cale, that was the last birdie he would get during the round.

After parked drives for birdies on the incredibly difficult 530’ Hole 16 by Michael and Bradley, it appeared as if Cale’s lead, which at the time was down to just one, was about to be taken away. However, both Bradley and Michael missed their birdie putts, leaving two par 4 holes left, both of which are almost guaranteed birdies for top level competitors.

At the bottom of the box, Cale teed off on 17 and let go a half a second too late, turning over his driver into the trees on the right of the fairway. He saved par with a magical third throw to get out of the woods yet again, but with Michael and Bradley parked inside the circle for birdie, it meant a 3-way tie going into the final hole.

Cale saves par on Hole 17, parking a throw from the rough.

Once again on the 18th, Cale let go of a drive he would soon regret. After Bradley and Michael put their crushed drives in the middle of the fairway, Cale let go too early, perhaps trying to compensate for his drive on 17, and clipped some leaves on the left side of the fairway.

Michael and Bradley both parked their approach shots to the island green in front of the gallery, and with that Cale’s run at the title was over. More importantly, with drop-in birdies for Michael and Bradley, it was sudden death playoff time.

In front of the massive gallery, both Bradley and Michael threw huge drives on Hole 1 and perfect approaches to the green for tap-in birdies. This meant we were off to Hole 2, and we would continue that loop until someone finally ousted the other.

Easy birdies for Bradley Williams and Michael Johansen on Hole 1 of Sudden Death.

Bradley had a chance to take the title on Hole 2 of the playoff with a 50’ putt, but he missed and we all made the walk back to the top to tee off once again on Hole 1.

Michael quickly teed off with a monstrous drive once again, leaving himself with another wide open look to the green. When Bradley was in his backswing, a member of the gallery screamed “Let’s Go Brad!” and he yanked his drive off to the right into a bundle of Christmas trees.  

Michael was up first and quickly threw his approach. He let it go late and it flew towards the rock wall that surrounds the green. In a way that seemed to break the laws of physics, his disc hit the wall 12 inches from the top, flipped up, and then bounced over the wall to finish OB. With this misplay, Bradley was able to lay up to the front of the protected green for either a birdie putt or a chance to lay up for par.

Bradley was out, and opted to lay up for what would be a tap-in par, knowing Michael would need a miraculous putt to save par after going OB. Michael climbed the rock wall and ran the putt, but he missed short, giving Brad the chance to drop it in for his first ever PDGA National Tour win, not to mention a win at the first ever Disc Golf Pro Tour event.

Congrats to Brad and all of the Open division players that made the cut at the 2016 Vibram Open. We can’t wait to see what action next year at Maple Hill brings!

Bradley Williams taps in for the win on the third hole of Sudden Death.