It doesn’t get much bigger than this. Singles Day at the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships, a PDGA Major. Today was the day that all the players in the Championship Flight had been waiting for. An individual National Title was on the line and you couldn’t script the type of finish we saw in both the men’s and the women’s divisions. Amazing putts, big comebacks, favorable bounces and unfortunate rolls; today’s action had it all.
Individual Men's Championship
In the Men’s National Championship division, all pools had already played one singles round leaving them with only one more round of singles before the cuts would be made. Only the top 28 plus ties would make it in to the finals. With so many excellent players in the field and such a tight race leading up to it, the players knew it was time to make a move.
As the scorecards started to roll in after the last preliminary round was over, several players started to gather outside of the scoring office just bursting with anticipation. There’s nothing like the nauseating feeling of being right on the cut line. If you find out you are in, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. If you find out you were cut, all you do is think about the dozens of throws that kept you one stroke from the "Big Dance".
Once the Finals were set, a total of 32 men set out to tackle 13 holes of the famed Old Glory Black course at the Hippodrome. The layout was selected by Tournament Director Alan Kane #35901 intentionally to provide an extra bit of drama given its array of difficult greens, endless OB ropes and water hazards. James Proctor #34250 from Nevada- Reno and John Baker #54600 of Georgia Regents University of Augusta held a narrow one throw lead over defending champ Bryan Moore #18790 of Ferris State and JC Rohe #55262 of South Alabama. Several players were just one throw behind them. In fact, there were 12 players within 5 throws of the lead heading in.
Back and forth the top card went, trading blows on every hole. After a nasty double bogey on the 7th hole, Proctor rebounded quickly with a birdie on hole 8 to put him up two strokes over Baker with 5 to play. With only two holes to go, they would both hiccup, almost giving life to the other two men on the card. After all but Moore missed the island green of the last hole, all Proctor had to do was layup from the drop zone for a tap in 4 and a one throw win over JC Rohe. A rather deserving victory considering James has worked hard for this. He has been on the road playing in big time events to gain experience while still continuing his education. He even turned down just the right amount of cash to not be considered a touring pro by the PDGA, a primary criterion for eligibility into the NCDGC. Well-deserved indeed, James.
Individual Women's Championship
In the Women’s Division, the top 8 players out of the total 22 would cruise into the finals. The lead card was a bit ahead of the rest of the pack, but with the unpredictability of the course and the pressure of the National Championship, it was enough to make everyone a bit nervous. McKayla Thomas #53966 of Colorado State held a one throw margin over Camille Skweir #57791 of Humboldt State, but Kelsey Brakel #16007 of Michigan State and returning champion Allison Carlton #61493 were just one back of Camille.
McKayla shot out of the gates on fire with birdies on 1, 3, 4 and 6. Her lead seemed too much to handle until they got to the lone par 4 on the treacherous final layout, deadly number 9. A left to right dogleg surrounded by OB, McKayla wanted to take advantage of her incredible distance off the tee, going for a huge hyzer completely over the out of bounds line. It never came back and settled OB. After struggling to make it up the fairway, she would tap in for an eight and find herself right back in the thick of things.
Meanwhile, Camille was having a rough go of it. After her first 10 holes of the finals, she had yet to make a birdie. After the gap had narrowed, she never gave up and made a huge putt on 11 to give herself a chance. Going into the 12th hole, Brakel, Skweir and Carlton all had a share of the lead. Camille took the only par on the next hole, giving her a one shot lead with one to go. After successfully making the island on the last, so did Kelsey and Allison hit the pole with her drive, guaranteeing a birdie.
Camille knew her 35 foot putt was for the title, but there was a catch; miss a little high or on either side, and her putt was sure to find the pond just 10 feet behind the hole. With car headlights illuminating the green, she took a few deep breaths, stepped up and canned it. What a finish! Camille now has a team title from 2014 and a new individual crown to add to the resume. Congrats Camille!
Tomorrow we will find out which team will earn the right to call themselves the National Champions in all divisions. We hope to see you there for more college disc golf!
As usual, high-res photos from the day are available on the PDGA Flickr page. Be sure to tune in on Saturday as we will be live scoring the team finals on pdgalive.com at approximately 2:45pm EDT for the Women's Team National Championship and 4:#0pm EDT for the Men's Team National Championship. Links to all the different division results can be found below.
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