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2018 PDGA National Tour

2018 PDGA National Tour

Ricky Wysocki celebrates his 2016 Masters Cup-clinching putt as a crowd watches at the DeLaveaga Golf Course. Photo: D.J. Ellis

SANTA CRUZ, California – The hard-packed fairways that turn seemingly innocuous landings into an unmitigated disaster. The rolling hills and low-hanging oaks just begging to swallow another sacrifice for the two-meter rule gods.

Top of the World.

A packed house at the William L. White Auditorium made for a memorable GBO opening ceremony. Photo: The Flight Record

When Eric McCabe and Gabe Werly took the reins of the Emporia Open in 2003 and turned it into the Glass Blown Open, they did so with high ambitions. Fifteen years later, though, it’s safe to say the tournament’s growth has exceeded anything they could have dreamed up.

Steve Hill and Sara Lamberson talk a wild weekend at the Las Vegas Challenge. The wind played a factor early (4:15) and saw young players jump to the top of the leaderboard, including second place Open finisher Joel Freeman (7:45), before Eagle McMahon broke through with a signature win (12:30). The Open Women’s side also featured some fresh faces (21:00) and another classic battle between Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen (24:35). Plus discussion on how conditions affected players’ hands and the advent of UDisc Live on the PDGA National Tour.

Eagle McMahon embraces his father, Pat, after the Las Vegas Challenge awards ceremony. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

Paige Pierce eyes her line during the final round of the Las Vegas Challenge. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

HENDERSON, Nev. – A birdie from Paige Pierce there. A return from Catrina Allen there.

The Open Women’s leaderboard ping-ponged during the final round of the Las Vegas Challenge, with Allen and Pierce exchanging volleys through the first two thirds of the 8,582-foot Innova course. Neither player would yield, as Pierce erased some early out-of-bounds strokes with crushing drives and long putts while Allen went station to station, collecting pars remaining steady.

Eagle McMahon (left) and Joel Freeman shared their home state pride after round three of the Las Vegas Challenge. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

HENDERSON, Nev. – Eagle McMahon and Joel Freeman stood feet from the 18th basket on the Adidas Terrex course on one of the rare patches of green grass in this parched desert landscape. The sun had just set on the third round of the Las Vegas Challenge, and the two Colorado natives could not help but be in awe at their current standing.

“I can’t believe that Joel – from Colorado -- and me are first and second right now,” McMahon said. “That’s so ridiculous.”

Catrina Allen tees off during round three of the Las Vegas Challenge. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

HENDERSON, Nev – An inconsistent day of scoring here at the Adidas Terrex course led to a familiar scenario for the final round of the Las Vegas Challenge: Like so many times before, Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen are tied atop the leaderboard and headed for a Sunday showdown.

Oregon pro Dustin Keegan is healthy and on the lead card. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

HENDERSON, Nev. – Dustin Keegan’s 2017 season ended in pain.

The 1007-rated Oregon pro battled a shoulder injury for much of the summer – his right bicep shifted without tearing, he said, with the ensuing nerve damage sending referral pain shooting down his arm  – and he when he finally returned home in October he was unsure it would ever heal.

“It was hard,” Keegan said. “All offseason I didn’t touch a disc right-handed for three months, and then I learned how to play left-handed. I got a left-handed hole in one.”

Paige Pierce shot up the leaderboard Friday morning. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

HENDERSON, Nev. – Though we’re mere miles from the famed Strip here at the Las Vegas Challenge, seven is rarely a lucky number on the course. In racking up that many out-of-bounds throws during her 938-rated opening round Thursday, Paige Pierce didn’t look like the high roller she normally is and instead found herself in an eight-shot hole.

It didn’t take long, though, for the natural order to be restored.

Jesse Adams leads the Las Vegas Challenge after a 10-under par performance Thursday. Photo: PDGA Media

HENDERSON, Nev. – Jesse Adams is playing in his first career PDGA National Tour event, and with that came an 8:32 a.m. tee time Thursday at the Las Vegas Challenge.

By 5 p.m., when all of disc golf’s biggest names finally exited Wildhorse Golf Club after a day of abysmal conditions, Adams’ unofficially 1075-rated 10-under par 48 still stood up as the top performance.

Washington native Sai Ananda surprised with her 2-under par 56. Photo: PDGA Media

HENDERSON, Nev. – What’s in a name?

For 21-year-old Sai Ananda, who started off the PDGA National Tour season with a 2-under par 56 opening round here at the Las Vegas Challenge, it’s everything.

“I think my parents did a pretty good job in naming me, the first name being a martial arts weapon and the second name being an East Indian word for bliss,” the Washington state native said. “I’ve kind of taken that into a disc golf philosophy in trying to be aggressive with my pleasant demeanor.”

Wildhorse Golf Club in Henderson, Nevada, hosts the Las Vegas Challenge. Photo: Innova Discs

The proverbial blood and tears may not have been shed in high supply over the last eight months by members of the Las Vegas Disc Golf Club. But as a dedicated team of volunteers endured the painstaking task of installing 54 turf tee pads at Wildhorse Golf Club in anticipation of this week’s PDGA National Tour kickoff, the Las Vegas Challenge, there were immeasurable quantities of sweat. Just ask LVDGC board member Peter Beaulieu.

21-year-old Rebecca Cox is embarking on her second full season of touring. Photo: PDGA

With a combined slate of 15 events in 2018, the PDGA National Tour and the Disc Golf Pro Tour are creating an opportunity for more professional disc golfers to pack up their cars, vans, and RVs and trek from sea to shining sea. Add in the various PDGA Majors and the Pro Tour Championship, and that number swells to almost 20 stops – and that doesn’t include the well-attended A-Tiers that provide players another shot at competing in the interim weeks.

Lisa Fajkus finished in sixth place on the 2017 National Tour. Photo: Matt Gregoire / PDGA

The 2018 PDGA National Tour once again will put $35,000 worth of bonus money on the table, and this season more players will have a crack at the pot.