Does McBeth start his Discraft career with a win at an event he's dominated?
February 14, 2019 by Christopher Wiklund and Jacob Wilkins in Courses, Coverage, News, Preview with 0 comments
Held at the historic Oak Grove Disc Golf Course, the oldest permanent pole hole disc golf course in the world and designed by the sport’s founding father, “Steady” Ed Headrick, in 1975, the 41st Annual Wintertime Open marks the unofficial official start of the professional disc golf season. Considering how this offseason seems to have ushered in a new era of disc golf across the board, it is fitting that the 2019 season should start where the game was born.
All Eyez On McBeth
Despite the fact that the WTO is “only” an A-Tier, many top players will be in southern California to kick-off their touring seasons. Eagle McMahon, A.J. Risley, Josh Anthon, and other mainstays on the circuit will be in attendance, bringing the total of players at or over the 1000-rated mark to 19. Seven women are registered including Catrina Allen, who is going into the event with a sturdy 955 rating. Jessica Weese, Lisa Fajkus, Ellen Widboom, and Hannah McBeth will all be jumpstarting their years in Pasadena.
All eyes will be on Paul McBeth who has absolutely dominated the event. With the exception of 2018, McBeth has won the WTO every year he has played the tournament since 2011. The WTO will also be McBeth’s first sanctioned event playing with his new plastic from Discraft after leaving Innova this offseason. You can be sure that fans will be looking for any opportunity to credit, or blame, McBeth’s new discs for how he places at Oak Grove.
While it appeared earlier this week that he wouldn’t make the trip, Lance Brown will be in attendance to defend his 2018 Wintertime Open title. Brown shot three straight rounds rated 1024 or better last year, including a scorching hot 1062-rated second round. Brown is currently 993-rated and will be looking to capture lightning in a bottle for the second year in a row.
Weese is looking to repeat as well this weekend, and carry some consistently through the rest of the season. Weese had a strong 2018, is clearly one of the most talented women on tour, and if she is able to get off to a strong start in Pasadena, her name will be discussed more often as one of the top female players out tour.
McMahon has had a relatively quiet offseason. He inked an extension with Discmania and spearheaded the release of Discmania’s new distance driver, the DD3 “Cloud Breaker,” but other than that has flown under the radar. McMahon placed third at the 2018 WTO, which was certainly a good indicator for what we saw from the Tall Skinny Bird over the rest of the season. McMahon spent a widely publicized portion of the 2017-2018 offseason training in Switzerland but stayed in Colorado the last couple of months doing local workouts. One would have to suspect he saw the results from last year’s efforts and applied portions of his routine to this offseason.
The pros will be playing the 7,508-foot par 62 layout Friday through Sunday. This layout includes the iconic, trademark holes which Oak Grove has to offer: the Spider, Island, Desert, and Canyon holes will all be in play.
The WTO layout is substantially longer than the regular layout, which does not feature any holes more than 380 feet. This weekend, the pros will wrangle with five holes over 500 feet, including a 616-foot par 4. Oak Grove is unique among the park style courses that open the season in that a big hyzer is rarely called for. Rather, players will have to navigate mandos and low ceilings imposed by the eponymous oaks and extra foliage.
Ian Anderson of Central Coast Disc Golf has been covering the Wintertime Open for the past several years, and will be on site again this year. He broke down three shots which will be crucial for players to execute if they want a chance at the win.
“The spider hole (hole 4) is very uphill with a late dogleg right. You have to make it up the hill and onto the right side of the tree for an easy birdie. If you don’t make it up the hill you’re looking at a hard five.”
“The tee shot on hole 6. You need a low line drive to make it under the crazy-low canopy, but it also needs to be high enough to get over the tables, logs, and rocks. Distance is also crucial. You need to get past all the trees to even have a chance to get to the basket on your next shot. If you go too far you end up OB in the soccer fields.”
“Hole 8, the Paul Hole. There are two routes on the hole. Low line drive with a late skip left, not too hard or you can’t make the mando on your next shot. Or, if you’ve got Paul power, you’re going to go over the top which saves you at least a stroke if you can clear the mando. From there, Paul used to have a long putt, but the TD has moved the basket back and into the trees. Now it’s a forehand upshot and a putt. I’m sure Paul will 2 it somehow, but it’s not as likely this year.”
Heavy rain entered the region on Thursday, making for a wet last practice day for a few players. The rain will likely stick around for the first round of the tournament while cooler than normal temperatures settle into place. The average temperature for Altadena, CA this time of year is just shy of 70°. Last year temperatures were just above average with daily highs ranging from 71° to 79°.
- Friday: The weather won’t change much throughout the day. Scattered showers are expected to move into the region around 10 AM and persist through the evening. Temperatures will remain in the low to mid-50s. Wind speeds should increase out of the south through most of the day, with gusts as high as 20 mph possible in the afternoon.
- Saturday: Winds will shift a bit more out of the northwest on Saturday, ushering in some drier conditions. An isolated shower or two will remain possible, however widespread rain chances appear less likely. Northwest winds around 10 mph will likely keep temperatures in the low to mid-50s once again.
- Sunday: An upper level low pressure system will swing into southern California on Sunday. This means cloudy and cool conditions are once again likely. A few rain showers will also be possible. Given northwest winds around 10 to 20 mph and the heavy cloud cover expected, temperatures may struggle to reach the 50° mark.
Last year Lance Brown used the warm conditions to shoot hot rounds. The question this year will be who can start the season hot, despite cool and damp conditions?
How to Follow
Check in here at Ultiworld Disc Golf for recaps of each round from the Open and Open Women’s fields.
Both Men’s and Women’s Open Division will play one round a day, from Friday through Sunday.
Central Coast Disc Golf will be on site filming and releasing next day post-produced coverage. For hole-by-hole and round scoring, keep your eye on the PDGA event page as it is updated throughout and after the event.