Pierce Comes Back To Win Fourth Straight Vibram Open

1005-rated final fuels victory over Jenkins

Paige Pierce’s long line of Vibram Open success continued as she took her fourth title at the event. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen, DGPT

Ultiworld Disc Golf’s coverage of the 2017 Vibram Open is presented by the Disc Golf Pro Tour; all opinions are those of the authors. Catch up on everything DGPT here.

Paige Pierce’s hold on the Vibram Open continues, as she won her fourth straight at Maple Hill with an impressive 1005-rated round in inclement conditions to secure a comeback win over Valarie Jenkins on Sunday. The victory marks Pierce’s 17th of the season, with the four-digit round also coming as her 17th on the year.

Pierce erased a six-stroke deficit with a 2-under par 60 in the early morning wind that led to a 1-under par 247 total. Jenkins had difficulty from the tee and fairway, posting tournament lows in greens-in-regulation and scramble rates on the final day en route to an 8-over par 70, which took her event total to a 3-over par 251. Catrina Allen finished in third place after a 5-over par 67 final took her four-round total to a 7-over par 255, and Vanessa Van Dyken rounded out the top 4 with a 6-over par 68 Sunday to bring her total to a 12-over par 260.

While Pierce ended up taking the ceremonial pond jump at the end of the day, she first had to shake off a hole 1 penalty stroke that put her in even more difficulty on the scorecard. The catalyst for her comeback came on the downhill hole 4, where she grabbed her first birdie of the day with a putt from 27 feet.

At the same time, Jenkins hit her first snag, as her drive clipped an early tree and took off right into the rough. Her approach left her with a difficult straddle putt from just inside the circle that came up short, resulting in her first bogey.

Jenkins’ struggles got worse as the round continued and conditions failed to improve. She could not find a clean line through the right side fairway on hole 5, as both her drive and approach hugged the hyzer line too closely. After reaching the 10-meter circle, her long bogey attempt was just low on the elevated pin, and she settled for a double-bogey. Pierce took a par, and in two holes Jenkins’ lead was down from seven to three.

Pierce maintained the pressure on the 320-foot hole 6, getting her drive well up the fairway for a relatively easy par. Jenkins, though, continued to tussle with Maple Hill, finding the left side rough early off her drive and approaching only to the circle’s edge, where she missed her par-saving putt to surrender another stroke.

Both Pierce and Jenkins hit early trees on hole 7, but it was Pierce who was able to scramble to the green. After a series of difficult lies off the heavily wooded fairways, Jenkins had a long look to save bogey from outside 10-meters that came up short. As Pierce tapped in her par putt from 15-feet, the two were tied.

But as we’ve seen throughout the season, Jenkins possessed the fortitude to fight back. Her drive on 8 made the 225-foot water carry, but went 30 feet past the pin. Undaunted, she canned her birdie putt to retake the lead as Pierce settled for par after an obstructed birdie putt went wide right.

Next it was Pierce’s turn to claw back a stroke after a drive to the top of the hill on the hazardous par 4 hole 9. Pierce’s approach skipped long past the pin to the edge of the circle while Jenkins’ second throw hit a tree, landing just short of the green and in the out-of-bounds water. She’d miss her long par putt, while Pierce smartly laid up her comeback attempt with the strong threat of a penalty stroke on the punishing green.

Again, the tie did not last, as Jenkins easily birdied hole 10 for the fourth time in four rounds and Pierce missed her birdie bid on the elevated basket from 30 feet. Jenkins would keep her one-stroke lead until hole 13, where the wind and rain picked up significantly. Her drive there flipped early into the Christmas trees, and after two misfires to get back in position, she missed two putts and carded her third double-bogey of the round. Pierce missed a birdie attempt from 35 feet, but still seized a one-stroke lead.

That margin grew to two strokes after Jenkins’ bogey on 15, then jumped to three after Pierce’s tap-in birdie on 17.

Jenkins was still fighting to make up the lost strokes on the final hole, though. Trying to make the green on her approach shot, her bid came up just short and out-of-bounds on the island green. Pierce’s drive was roughly pin high but 60 feet left of the island, though after Jenkins found the OB Pierce laid up, knowing a par was all that was necessary to secure the win.

Pierce’s victory in Massachusetts is her second on the Disc Golf Pro Tour in the last month and fifth on the circuit this season. The win also wraps up the number one seed for Pierce in the Disc Golf Pro Tour points standings. Additionally, the top six getting byes to the quarterfinals and semifinals are set, with Catrina Allen locking up third place and the final bye into the semifinals, and Lisa Fajkus notching sixth place and the final bye into the quarterfinals.

It won’t be long before the pair of four-time world champions face off again. Both Pierce and Jenkins head off to next weekend’s Nantucket Disc Golf Open, and then in two weeks to the Green Mountain Championship.

  1. Alex Colucci
    Alex Colucci

    Alex Colucci is the managing editor at Ultiworld Disc Golf. He is a disc golfer currently living in Northeast Ohio who teaches geography sometimes. Contact him at [email protected] with tips, news and questions, and follow him on Twitter.

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