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Paige Pierce - 18 Holes from USDGC Spot


Photo(s) Credit: DiscGolfWorldTour.com

UPDATE: At the time of publishing this article we were not aware that several legendary female disc golfers had qualified for the USDGC in the same way that Paige Pierce was on pace to do. Our sincere apologies to 4X World Champion Des Reading #15863, 6X World Champion Elaine King #3090, and 5X World Champion Juliana Korver #7438. Our sincere apologies again. 

Coming into the 2017 Aussie Open, 3X World Champion Paige Pierce #29190 had the 19th highest PDGA Player Rating out of the entire field, all divisions included. When she found out that the event was a United States Disc Golf Championship (USDGC) qualifier, she was elated. 10 spots will be awarded at this event to the 10 players that finish with lowest scores overall, regardless of division.

Earning a chance to compete at the USDGC is exciting in general, but there’s a much bigger accomplishment on the line as well. No woman in PDGA history has ever qualified for the USDGC in this way, based solely on the overall score at an event while competing against men and women alike. From the moment the news was broken, she’s believed with confidence that at the end of the day on Sunday, she’d be able to start planning her trip to Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA in October.

Pierce snags a birdie on hole 3, one of nine she would get during Round 3.

Paige nearly earned a USDGC spot in 2015 during Monday Qualifying, taking on Winthrop Gold for a chance to win one of the five spots that were up for grabs. Playing in torrential rain and wind, she missed the cut by the narrowest of margins, just a single stroke.

After finishing with an unreal round score this afternoon of six under par (59), her overall score of 10 under par (185) means she has the 8th best score overall in the competition with just one round remaining. But wait, there’s more…

According to the Official Qualifying Procedure on the USDGC website, Ricky Wysocki and Eagle McMahon are already eligible for the 2017 USDGC due to finishing in the top 10 at the 2016 USDGC. Paige’s finish of four under par this afternoon (59) moves her into 6th place in the USDGC battle. With a cushion of six strokes separating her from the 10th place position holder, Avery Jenkins #7495, all she needs to do is play safe, smart golf for 18 more holes to not only win the first PDGA Major and first Disc Golf World Tour event of the year, but to make history while doing so.

Wire-To-Wire Win for Eagle McMahon Remains a Very Real Possibility

After the mind-bending, record-shattering scores that both Ricky Wysocki #38008 and Eagle McMahon #37817 put up yesterday during Round 2, -17 (48) and -16 (49) respectively,  it was a fairly easy assumption to make that today’s scores would be a little less…incomprehensible? After all, this is Mundaring DiscGolfPark, not a pitch-and-putt.

Today’s round served as a return to normalcy of sorts as far as round scores go, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t chock-full of entertainment. Starting the round three off the lead, Ricky carded birdies on the first four holes to bring the deficit down to one. It only took four holes to know that we were all in for a great show.

 

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Eagle McMahon finds OB off the tee of hole 9 to card his first bogey since Round 1.

A few holes later, a huge skip on the high-speed fairway of hole 9 left Ricky’s driver putting for birdie from inside of 10 feet (3 meters). Eagle followed with a spike hyzer on a line so steep that when it finally returned to earth, it didn’t have enough right-to-left momentum remaining to get the skip out of the OB putting green. For the first time since late in the round two days ago, Eagle had lost the lead.

With nine holes remaining, it seemed that the momentum had swung into the reigning World Champion’s favor. That is, until the very next hole, a double dogleg that finishes into a narrow, wooded tunnel. Ricky’s drive left him OB with two options: 1) lay up into the fairway and face a long tunnel shot for a chance to settle for a bogey five, or 2) try the spike anhyzer line that plays over OB the entire time and hope the disc makes it way over and/or through the tall trees that protect the green for a chance to save par.

Ricky opted for the latter but his first attempt at the anhyzer was stopped well short after the disc clipped a branch, knocking it straight down into the OB grass below. A second attempt at the same shot got through, leaving him with a long a tricky putt. Missing the putt just high, his putter dinged off the top of the basket. When it was all said and done, an understandably frustrated Ricky would tap in for a triple bogey, seven.

Meanwhile, Eagle finished the hole with a birdie three after a perfect drive, a safe approach, and a birdie putt from a knee from at least 40 feet (12 meters).  Unfortunately for Ricky, there was more misfortune headed his way. An OB off the tee and again from his follow-up throw on hole 14 gave Eagle another three stroke advantage.

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The hot and humid weather made the conditions tough for our competitors.

With four holes to go, the back and forth continued. Ricky quickly gained two back on hole 15, but that would be the last time either of them finished a hole with different scores. They will face each other one last time with the title on the line tomorrow, with Eagle McMahon once again teeing off last as the overall leader, three ahead of Ricky Wysocki.

Outside of the lead card, we saw Philo Brathwaite #26416 shoot the hot round of the day with his 10 under par (55). Unfortunately for Philo, even the hot round was not enough to jump him to the lead card for the final day, as Manabu Kajiyama’s seven under par (58) kept the top Japanese player in the world in the 4th place spot, sitting at -22 overall, one ahead of Philo. Rounding out the lead card will be Paul McBeth #27523, who is currently in 3rd place at -24.

Comments

There have been other women in addition to Paige and Des who have qualified for the USDGC over the years. I qualified at least once by virtue of my total score at the Toronto Island Open. Unfortunately I was never able to compete in the USDGC as I had not saved enough vacation days. Which other women have qualified? Write in a comment so we can include the complete history.

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