Final round cancellation gives McBeth the Open win, while Allen and Hokom share first in Open Women's division
April 3, 2017 by Steve Hill in News with 0 comments
Severe storms pummeled the Dallas area early yesterday, forcing the cancellation of the final round of the Nick Hyde Memorial in Rockwall, Texas. As a result, standings from the end of round two were counted as official, with Paul McBeth taking the Open win and Catrina Allen and Sarah Hokom splitting the Open Women’s victory.
While the weather cleared later in the day, players who teed off in the morning at Harry Myers Park encountered dangerous conditions. Play was delayed for an hour around noon local time as lightning strikes hovered nearby, and after a second delay tournament organizers decided it was in the best interest of players to pull the plug on the three-day affair.
“It was 100 percent player safety,” tournament director Matt Siri said. “In fact, right after I got done making the announcement that we were cancelling the final round, the Züca triple mando gate that we had set up on hole 18 came crashing down to the ground.”
Siri said the weather reports he and tournament staff were initially following were not accurate, showing lightning six to seven miles away from the park. Once they showed up overhead, some players reported being afraid to be on the course.
“Unfortunately in Texas, when it comes to bad to weather, it doesn’t mess around down here,” Siri said. “When it’s bad, it can get bad really quick. The storm cell that rolled through here actually produced tornadoes when it got to Louisiana.”
Still, Siri and Disc Golf Pro Tour Director Steve Dodge initially tried to keep the event alive. After the first delay they decided to cut the men’s field down to 72 in the hopes of giving everyone with a chance at cashing an opportunity to finish. And even when the time came to finally shut it down, Siri said he did not take the decision lightly.
“It was a very, very, very tough decision, and one that I still don’t feel good about – and I’m not sure that I ever will,” Siri said. “But I had to do what was right for the players, no matter what. It is all about them.”
McBeth said he was prepared for the elements, but respected Siri’s decision to cancel the final round.
“I was gonna be ready to play either way, you know?” McBeth said. “They ended up calling it, so I would not fault any TD for ever having to call an event due to weather.”
Simon Lizotte, who tied for second place with Ricky Wysocki, said he was “completely thrilled” with the decision. He had particular reservations about course conditions after his recent knee surgery, as well.
“That course is already slick and slippery when it’s dry,” Lizotte said. “So if it’s wet, it’s like definitely a higher risk, and I wouldn’t want to go out there and try and throw long shots on those teepads.”
The lead card of the Open Women’s division was actually on the course when organizers decided to make the call, and Hokom also said she agreed with halting play – even if she was disappointed.
“It was pretty unsafe out there, even despite the way the weather kind of cleared up here,” Hokom said. “It was definitely a bummer not to get another round on that course, try to shoot a better round and kinda redeem myself from yesterday.”
Wysocki echoed a similar sentiment, calling the situation “disheartening.” This is the second time in the last year — the first being the 2016 United States Disc Golf Championship — that both he and Nikko Locastro were in striking distance of the lead heading to the final round, only to have it be canceled due to poor conditions.
“If you’re a competitor, you play to win,” Wysocki said. “And sometimes winning isn’t always winning from wire to wire or winning from start to finish…Just the fact that the elements canceled out this tournament — and, like I said, USDGC — it’s a pretty distraught feeling having this happen two times in the past six or seven months. It’s definitely a bummer. With the way the weather was, I was only two strokes back, but in that weather that two strokes is nothing. In those conditions you’re not gonna be shooting 10 or 12 under, so there’s a lot more room to make up strokes in the weather. And that’s another thing I excel in, is playing in the rain.”
Wysocki took his dissatisfaction one step further, though, and said yesterday’s final should not have been called off.
“I think it was an awful call,” Wysocki said. “I don’t want to call anyone out or anything, but I think they called it too early. The weather — as soon as they called the tournament, the weather broke and it didn’t rain one drop after they called it. I think they could have prolonged it a little bit more.”
Asked if he was concerned about player safety on the course after the storm, Wysocki said he did not think it would have been an issue.
“Teepads would have been a little bit slippery, but that’s just the element you have to battle with,” Wysocki said. “That’s just part of the game. Just because the teepads are slippery, that’s not a reason to cancel the event.”
Siri said brief consideration was given to postponing the event until Monday, but that ultimately it was not feasible for many of the players and staff in attendance.
“We’re legitimately talking like 10 out of the top 20 would not have been able to make it on Monday because of other obligations they had,” Siri said. “So I was not gonna — I just couldn’t have done that, as much as I would have liked to.”
When it comes to adding an extra day to events in case of inclement weather, Hokom said she would like the idea to be considered in the future.
“I think that if it’s understood that that’s a possibility and that’s part of the manual, the competition manual, that people would take that into account,” Hokom said. “And if people are educated about it…most of the people, a lot of the people on tour are actually OK. A lot of the people who are in contention for those wins have the ability to handle the extra day.”
Allen, meanwhile, said the cancellation and shared victory were slightly bittersweet. Still, she’s been pleased to see her play improve in recent weeks.
“I hope that people didn’t think I was just gonna play terrible all year,” she said with a laugh.
McBeth, who has now won three events in a row, said he feels like his game is approaching his pre-injury form, but that he still needs to dial in his putting to reach full strength.
“I’m just trying to get back to my game, get back to what people are used to and what I’m used to,” McBeth said. “This weekend was a good step. I played better here than I did at The Memorial, Throw Down The Mountain…Very consistent, and that’s what I used to do. I used to shoot good rounds that were consistent. It was never too far out of the pace. This was exactly that.”
The Nick Hyde win moved McBeth into third place in the Disc Golf Pro Tour standings with 200 points. Lizotte leads the season-long race with 237 points, while Wysocki sits in second at 224.
Allen and Hokom split the first and second place tour points for the weekend, giving them each 92.5 for their first place tie. Paige Pierce, even with her third place Nick Hyde finish, still leads the women’s division with 275 points overall, while Hokom (262.5) and Allen (228) are in second and third, respectively.
Many players will now head south to the Houston area for this week’s 22nd Annual Texas States Disc Golf Championship, a PDGA A-Tier. The Disc Golf Pro Tour resumes April 13 at the Jonesboro Open in Jonesboro, Arkansas.