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McMahon Comes Full Circle To Win Glass Blown Open


Eagle McMahon is now two-for-two on the 2018 National Tour after a late-round Glass Blown Open victory. Photo: The Flight Record

EMPORIA, Kan. – If Winthrop Gold’s iconic hole 17 is disc golf’s most consequential, the Emporia Country Club’s 365-foot 16th is a worthy rival. And during Saturday’s final round of the Dynamic Discs Glass Blown Open, the picturesque, hair-raising island shot added another page to its growing legend.

Ricky Wysocki, Drew Gibson, and Eagle McMahon had battled furiously all afternoon, and the reigning PDGA World Champion had clawed back to tie Gibson and lead McMahon by a single stroke. Wysocki, first to tee, opted to run the island and ended with a splash landing. Gibson, who had been pushing hard all round, landed on the green, but his disc caught an edge and rolled into the water.

That left McMahon to seize the moment.

“Being last on that box was like the biggest gift from the disc golf gods ever,” the 20-year old Colorado native said. “To see them throw their shots and [allow] me to strategize afterward – it was a great opportunity. I was thinking about laying up, but then I figured if I birdie it, with two holes play up one stroke – I think that was a better idea. I felt like I had some karma on my side after yesterday’s ruling.”

McMahon, then, took fate into his own hands. Stepping up to the tee with a turquoise Discmania PD2, he lined up the same shot his friend and teammate Simon Lizotte had employed: a massive hyzer wide around the trees. McMahon himself had never practiced the line, but he knew he had the requisite power for it, and he was rewarded for his self-confidence. He stuck the landing, then converted on a 20-foot headwind putt to take the lead and, ultimately, the GBO victory.

The dramatic showing gave McMahon a one-shot win, as his final round 9-under par 54 led to a 26-under par 163 total. Wysocki’s 1077-rated course record – an 11-under par 52 – contributed to a 25-under par 164 second place total, a space he shared with Gibson after the 22-year-old California native slipped up in the middle half of the round en route to an 8-under par 55. Lizotte overcame four early out-of-bounds strokes and birdied the last six holes to finish in fourth place with a 21-under par 168, while Arkansas pro Kevin Jones’ 10-under par final netted him fifth place – his best career showing at a PDGA National Tour event – with a 20-under par 169.

McMahon pocketed $5,000, the largest payout of his young career. Wysocki and Gibson each took home $2,500, while Lizotte and Jones netted $1,750 and $1,500 in winnings, respectively.

The victory also found McMahon coming full circle: The 2015 Glass Blown Open was his entrance to the national stage, as he tossed a 48 in the second round to make the final round lead card before struggling to a 973-rated finish. Just three years later the floodgates have opened, and McMahon has won both events on the National Tour.

“To think that I’ve been chasing after a big win all these past years and now I’ve won the first two NTs of the year – it feels really surreal,” McMahon said.

Early in the round, though, it seemed like Gibson might be the one running away with a career-altering victory. After his drive on the Emporia Country Club’s 1,135-foot opening hole sailed left and out of bounds – Gibson said he has two white, blank-topped discs in his bag, and he simply grabbed the wrong one in a mental lapse – he recovered to rattle off four consecutive birdies. McMahon, meanwhile, left many of his drives and approaches on the same stretch in circle 2 and couldn’t manage to convert on his long birdie bids. Through five holes Gibson had a two-shot lead, and he was often the longest player off the tee.

Quietly lurking on the card, though, was Wysocki. He consistently launched precision drives, parking holes 3 and 6 and otherwise landing in circle 1 as he birdied five of the first seven holes. Still, he trailed Gibson by three and McMahon by one.

That margin would not last for long. For a second day in a row, Gibson found trouble in the Country Club’s midsection. He turned over his drive on the 549-foot 9th, and it sailed into a murky pond for his first OB of the round. After cleaning up his bogey, he then misfired left through hole 10’s valley shot and was left to settle for par.

At the same time, McMahon overcame a career-long obstacle: He executed a drive on 10 to the middle of the fairway, put an easy approach to 15 feet, then gave a double fist pump as he celebrated his first ever birdie on the 658-foot par 4.

Those emotional swings were a hallmark of the weekend, and another was soon to come. The 426-foot 15th and its peninsular green are hyzer bomb heaven, and each player on the card put on a show. Gibson, though, was the headliner: His high Destroyer shot fell to the earth with meteoric speed and headed for the chains, hitting them dead center. The shot was too strong, though, and it bounced out of the basket. Gibson incredulously walked down the fairway, collected a couple dollars from eager spectators, and lamented that he still ended up with the same birdie as his cardmates.

“That spit out – that’s’ a big momentum swing,” Gibson said after the round, still smarting from his misfortune. “I hit that ace right there, they still have to throw behind me. That’s a big shift.”

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Drew Gibson nearly landed a game-changing ace on hole 15. Photo: The Flight Record

Instead, the shift came with McMahon’s heroics on 16. The hole signified the one deviation from his course management strategy, as McMahon said he allowed himself to be flexible on the shot and do whatever was required in the moment to win.

“Seeing Drew – I think he was five or six-down on the front – that was a little bit intimidating, but I know if I was patient going throughout the entire course that I just need to be within one going into the island hole, because the last three holes anything can happen,” McMahon said. “I pretty much executed my game plan perfectly until there. I got a few good kicks, a little bit lucky. Things weren’t exactly going my way, but I turned on something when it really mattered, and that’s something that I can say I’ve never done before on this stage.”

Indeed, the gunslinging play even surprised Lizotte, who isn’t exactly known as a conservative player.

“Once Ricky and Drew both threw OB, Eagle – we like looked at each other, and I was like, ‘Lay up, lay up, lay up,’” Lizotte said. “…And then he grabbed a driver and I heard, ‘Here goes nothing,’ but he [actually] said ‘Here you go, Simon’…and then I saw he was lining up the hyzer and I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ He’s never practiced that shot. Then I was really proud of him.”

Though Lizotte didn’t have his finest hour during the GBO final – he threw a wormburner on hole 3 and spent his day dramatically pirouetting on the tee after he shanked a few drives – he was excited at the prospect of another McMahon win. After all, it was Lizotte who won the Memorial Championship right after McMahon won the Las Vegas Challenge in February.

“I’m probably going to win Masters Cup,” Lizotte deadpanned.

For Gibson, the performance marked a career-best on the National Tour stage. He’s now logged eight top 10 finishes in 2018, and said that confidence has never been an issue for him. He simply needs to execute when the time comes.

“It’s just a matter of me accepting what happened and moving on,” Gibson said. “Second place at Glass Blown Open is still great. Tied Ricky and lost to Eagle, who’s already one of the hottest players this year. So I can’t be too upset about it.”

Elsewhere on the leaderboard, Grady Shue finished bogey-free to move into sixth place with a 19-under par 170, while Nate Doss returned from a shoulder injury to take seventh place at 18-under. Colten Montgomery’s final round 54 moved him up six slots and into eighth place, while A.J. Risley slipped one spot on the chase card and into ninth, where he tied with Nate Sexton.

Fifth-place finisher Jones, who hadn’t played at the Country Club since a 2011 tilt there in the Advanced division, had the GBO circled on his calendar this year. His run of eight straight birdies to close the event helped him move up four spots in the standings.

“I didn’t take it for granted,” Jones said. “I realized it’s an extremely difficult course. There’s OB everywhere, but if you just stay in bounds and give yourself looks the birdies will come, and that’s kinda what I did today.”

Now two-for-two on the 2018 National Tour circuit, McMahon said his win here was different than his Vegas triumph not only for the fashion in which it was executed, but also for the message it sent.

“Vegas is one of the best feelings ever because I finally got over the hump,” McMahon said. “This is kind of just to legitimize it.”

Comments

Submitted by elijahryan on

Could you guys please stop putting the winner in the title of the article? Seems like a simple courtesy for those who haven't had a chance to watch the coverage yet. Jomez just released the final round 2 hours ago...

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