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Reign or Shine

On a wet and cold Sunday morning, the women at the United States Womens Disc Golf Championships ventured out into the mist for the final round of the tournament and for some, the last round of the season.  The arduous journey that is the National Tour can be tough on the body and mind, but its events like these that get marked on the calendar year after year, even though it is late in the season.  There is a different feeling about this event.  True, there is a competition, a National Title, and cash money on the line, but at a women-only event, there is so much camaraderie, passion, friendship and respect between these ladies, it seems as though the tournament is almost an afterthought to being reunited with dear friends.  And although there were several winners this weekend, the real winner was the American Cancer Society, as the event raised tons of funds to be donated to an extremely worthy charity.  Fade Gear and Next Adventure donated funds to be distributed in a bonus skins match, but because of the inclement weather, the skins were cancelled and those who would have been involved decided to donate to the ACS; a truly amazing gesture from some truly amazing women.

In the Amateur divisions, we saw some runaway victories and some very tight races to boot.  In the Recreational division, Madison Lynch held on for the win after building up a sizeable lead in the first three rounds.  Portland local Cindy McMahan took the title in Advanced Grandmasters by a vast margin of 20 throws over Kari Dianich, and Nichola Landry held on for an eleven throw win over Cathy Yerby.  The Intermediate division held on to a tight race all the way through the event.  These ladies battled it out this weekend, and after several lead changes, Sai Ananda from Chenay, WA managed to squeak out the win over Portland local hero and recently crowned Junior World Champion Michelle Nava.  In the Advanced division, we saw another wire to wire win from Oregon transplant Jackolyn Halstead.  Upon accepting the trophy, she thanked her first ever sponsor and vowed to return next year to the IDGC in Appling, GA (site of the 2014 USWDGC) not to defend her crown, but to test the waters in the Open field.  Kudos to all these ladies for showing not only their skill and talent, but also for being true sportswomen of the game.

The Professional divisions stewed up some drama as they always do.  The Grandmasters division appeared to be a runaway for Sandy Gast at first, but Kathy Hardyman of Colorado charged forward in the third and fourth rounds, gaining two strokes each time.  In the end, the lead Sandy had built up in the first two rounds was too much to conquer, and she was crowned as the champion.  Des Reading chose to play in the Masters division this year because an injury had kept her from her normal practice routine.  With a noticeable limp, she made her way around the challenging course with ease and strode into the clubhouse a whopping 30 strokes in front of her closest competitor, Pam Reineke.  In fact, even though she was hurt, Des still might have considered playing in the Open field anyway, as she had the lowest total score in the entire tournament.  After the round she claimed she played as well as she did because of the ladies she was playing with.  It’s true that enjoying the company of those you are paired with affects the quality of play.  For Des, she ends her season on a high note, and is confident that she will be back next year to give those young ladies a run for their money.

In the Open field, Sarah Hokom began the day with a five throw lead.  She struggled to find her putt early, missing several birdie opportunities that would have put her miles ahead in the end.  Meanwhile, Catrina Allen was making a push to catch Hokom until she carded a six on the par 3 fifth hole.  After the triple bogey, however, Cat turned up the heat and birdied five out of the next seven holes to get within three strokes of the leader.  With the five last holes being some of the most difficult holes on the course, if Sarah could just par out, she would claim the victory.  Despite a few scares, she would do just that, and eventually win by two strokes over Catrina.  Valarie Jenkins finished third and Sarah Cunningham would finish fourth.  These women were miles ahead of the rest of the field, making it clear why they are regarded as some of the best women disc golfers in the world.

Another United States Womens Disc Golf Championship is in the books.  In two weeks, it will be the Men’s turn, as they head to Rock Hill, SC to be tested by the dreaded Winthrop Gold course at the USDGC.  A big “thanks” goes out to all the sponsors of this year’s womens event, especially title sponsor Innova, and participating sponsors Fade Gear and Next Adventure.  And of course, this event would not be possible if it weren’t for the 100+ women that participated.  If you ever have the chance to attend a Ladies tournament, go out and witness for yourself the game at its finest.  The women are true ambassadors of the sport.  For a complete listing of the final scores, click here.  As always, photos from the event can be seen on the PDGATour Flickr page.  Congratulations to our newest United States Women Champions!