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Wysocki, Pierce Defend the Lead at GCC

Two rounds down and two to go as we get closer and closer to crowning the first PDGA National Tour champions of 2017 here in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge presented by Innova Champion Discs (GCC). Coming into the round with a majority of the field just a few strokes apart, we were bound to see some significant changes in the rankings by the end of the day.

It seemed unusually cold when the day began, as many of the vendors beat the ice off of their tents while the course was being set up. The conditions changed rapidly as the sun rose higher into the sky, but that didn’t mean it was anywhere close to warm for the divisions with early morning tee times. As the morning and afternoon progressed, the temperatures increased and the weather became much more tolerable. However, as the last few cards of the day were coming in, it was clear that many of the players and spectators were not properly prepared for just how quickly the temperatures would drop as the sun sunk below the mountains in the horizon.

The women teed off first with many of them sporting multiple layers of clothing, stocking caps, and gloves. Both the Open Women and the Open divisions would take on Course Innova (par 60), measuring in at just under 8500 feet. The course design is similar to that of many ball-golf-to-disc-golf course conversions, with cart paths, sand traps, and putting greens all being something you want to avoid landing in and/or crossing over.

Paige Pierce #29190 led the field by two or more coming into Round 2, joined by Jennifer Allen #15354, Disc Golf Hall of Fame member Elaine King #3090, and 2015 Women’s Am Worlds Champion Jessica Hill #64874. Elaine held the 4th place position four strokes off the lead as they took to the tee, tied with Jessica Weese #50656 and Catrina Allen #44184.

Paige’s front nine seemed a bit off, and it was visually and audibly clear that she knew something in her game wasn't clicking. What was off was never determined, but whatever it was seemed to disappear on the latter half of the course. More importantly, despite feeling like she wasn’t playing well, she wasn’t losing strokes to the field. Her lead was never contested during the round, but both Jennifer and Elaine continuously stayed in striking range.

Tee shots by Paige Pierce, Jessica Hill, and Jennifer Allen on the dangerous hole 5 of Course Innova.

Both Jennifer and Paige pulled away from the field on the back nine, taking advantage of their abilities to out-drive their competition to card birdies and pars on the longer holes that many of the ladies simply can’t reach. Playing from the chase card, current US Women’s Champion Sarah Hokom #34563 worked her way up the rankings to snag a spot on the lead card for Round 3, while Elaine King played safe and consistent golf to move into 3rd place.

Paige will tee off as the leader for Round 3 once again, two ahead of Jennifer Allen, with Elaine King and Sarah Hokom seven and nine off the lead, respectively.

Teeing off much later in the afternoon was the Open division lead card consisting of Ricky Wysocki #38008, Pasi Koivu #41251, JohnE McCray #9852, and Nikko Locastro #11534. Round 1 left Ricky at the top of the leaderboard up by one or more, with 20+ world-class competitors all within five strokes. It’s safe to say that he had a target on his back, but that’s never seemed to bother him before. And even if it did, you’d never know it, as he is one of the quietest and most solitary players in the sport.

With so many players so close together on the leaderboard, we expected some drastic changes in the rankings by the end of the day. That prediction held true, as players jumped way up and/or moved way down in the rankings throughout the afternoon. While the players shuffled around below him, Ricky held on to his lead position throughout the entire day. JohnE McCray and Ricky played nearly identical rounds, each finishing the day at nine under par (51). Pasi and Nikko would eventually lose their lead card spots after finishing Course Innova in near darkness thanks to a solid round by Paul Ulibarri and an incredible round by Eagle McMahon.

Eagle finished the round with the best score of the day at 11 under par (49), unofficially rated at 1078, but he wasn’t alone. Current US Champion Jeremy Koling was also shredding the course, finishing with the same score that included an unmatched 7-hole birdie run on holes 2-8. Cale Leiviska nearly matched their round, finishing the round as the only other player double digits at -10 (50), bogey free.

Big moves were made by many beyond the aforementioned trio, but the real story might just be that while all this was happening, no one was catching Ricky Wysocki. Ricky remains the leader going into Round 3 on the adidas® Terrex course this afternoon, two ahead of JohnE McCray and four ahead of both Eagle McMahon and Paul Ulibarri.

Ricky nearly makes a 70' putt for birdie on hole 9 of Course Innova. Even at this distance, it's a rare miss.

How do you catch someone that, on what he considers a bad day, still finishes bogey-free nine birdies for a score that’s just two higher than the hot rounds? The answer might be out there on the course today. Only time will tell.

Make sure you’re watching the live broadcast of Round 3 this afternoon via The SpinTV on YouTube and following the live scores on! Follow the PDGA on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and coverage links!

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