Pierce Conquers Masters Cup, Stays Undefeated

Jenkins disqualification causes morning stir

paige pierce
Paige Pierce celebrates her 2018 Masters Cup victory. Photo: PDGA

On the sunny slopes of Santa Cruz, California, Paige Pierce continued her dominant season, winning the Masters Cup in convincing fashion for her ninth win this calendar year. She capped off the winning performance with a 1003-rated victory lap around the DeLaveaga Golf Course to collect her third PDGA National Tour win of the year.

While there wasn’t much intrigue over the lead during the round, the final round drama kicked off before the field even teed off on Sunday. An early morning decision by Tournament Director Braden Coolidge resulted in the disqualification of Valarie Jenkins due to caddie misconduct during the second round on Saturday. Jenkins was in second place, four strokes behind Pierce at the time, having led the event after the first round.

Because of the infraction, there was a last-minute shakeup to the lead card, which meant Jennifer Allen was bumped up to play with Pierce, Catrina Allen and Lisa Fajkus from the chase card.

“Completely unexpected and not mentally what I had planned for,” Allen stated after the round. “I showed up to the course this morning and was told I’d be playing on the lead card.”

The morning was hectic in Santa Cruz, but once the competition got going the on-course theatrics were reserved for impressive displays of golf by Pierce.

With Jenkins out of the picture, Pierce was still six strokes ahead of Catrina Allen. The two traded strokes back and forth over the first seven holes until a stretch of pars down the middle of the track for Pierce correlated to several bogeys by Catrina Allen.

Pierce grabbed an inconsequential bogey on hole 15 to put her at 1-under par on the day and nine ahead of Allen. With victory all but assured, Pierce decided to provide a show. You could never say Pierce was playing conservative, but even for her, she was zeroed in on the basket for the final three holes.

On the 590-foot par 4 16th, she was in Circle 1 in regulation and smoothed a 15-footer in for par. On 17, she was on the fairway yet too far away for what most would consider a true birdie look. But Pierce is quite unlike most players. Outside Circle 2, Pierce throws in her 77-foot approach. The foot stayed on the pedal on the 429-foot par 3 18th. From 38 feet away, with water nearby, Pierce wasn’t phased. She smashed chains for the birdie two closing out the round with a turkey. She finished 4-under par 56 on the day for a 3-over par 207 total for the tournament.

The rest of the lead card, like Pierce, maintained their starting positions. Catrina Allen went 2-over par 62 on Sunday, finishing second, 12 strokes behind Pierce, with a 15-over par 219 total.

catrina allen
Catrina Allen approaches during the final round of the 2018 Masters Cup at the DeLaveaga Golf Course. Photo: PDGA

Lisa Fajkus played her brand of golf, carding only two bogeys to go with a birdie in her final tally. The 1-over par 61 round gave her a third-place finish at 16-over par 220 for the weekend.

Late lead card addition Jennifer Allen was in a temporary tie with Catrina Allen for second until hole 16 and 17 showed their teeth. Jennifer Allen was 1-under par until her tee shot found OB on 17. A bogey there turned into a double bogey on 18. The day and emotion of the early round news may have caught up to her on the final green as a three-putt from inside Circle 1 dropped the Oklahoman back to fourth place. She was five strokes clear of fifth-place Madison Walker finishing at 18-over par 222.

val jenkins
Valarie Jenkins during second round action at the 2018 Masters Cup. Photo by PDGA.

Through the first two rounds of the event it became apparent that if anyone would be challenging Pierce for the win, it would be Jenkins. But the disqualification prior to the third round removed that possibility.

Prior to Sunday’s final round, the PDGA released a statement about the disqualification.

Valarie Jenkins has been disqualified from the Santa Cruz Masters Cup under sections 3.05C and 3.03B.10 of the PDGA Competition Manual For Disc Golf Events for player misconduct related to her caddie,” the statement read.

Rule 3.05C refers specifically to players who choose to use a caddie during competitions and states that between the time of the two-minute warning prior to tee off and until the player’s card is turned in, “Misconduct by a caddie may subject both the player and caddie to disqualification and/or suspension.”

Rule 3.03B.10 refers to possession of alcohol during a round. Alcohol possession results in immediate disqualification at PDGA B-Tier or higher events. Inferring from the PDGA’s statement, Jenkins’ caddie possessed alcohol at some point during Saturday’s second round, and as a result of rule 3.05C Jenkins was subject to disqualification because caddies are an extension of the player and therefore subject to all the same PDGA rules and competition standards.

A statement from Coolidge was also included in the PDGA’s announcement that added, “This decision weighs heavily, to say the least. Val is one of the most respected players in our sport with contributions that resonate much wider than the casual observer might know. Unfortunately, the definition of the rules are clear in this instance, and they were applied to [Jenkins] as they would be any other player at the tournament.”

Jenkins, along with the rest of the touring pros, are headed just a short distance north to next weekend’s San Francisco Open, a Disc Golf Pro Tour event, scheduled to begin on May 25th.

  1. Bennett Wineka
    Bennett Wineka

    Benn started playing disc golf in the '90s but has somehow never gotten any better. He lives in Decatur, Georgia and cares too much about Atlanta United and UNC basketball. Follow him on Instagram at @bennwineka if you never want to see any new posts.

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