Fields Trimmed For Semifinal Rounds At Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship

Koling, Van Dyken miss cut due to tour points tiebreaker

Hailey King at the 2019 DGPT Championship. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen – DGPT

Two weeks ago and 30 miles south of here we were “treated” to record-breaking highs at the USDGC. Fast forward to frost warnings and fatigued faces a mere fortnight later, the Disc Golf Pro Tour brings its Championship to the legendary Hornets Nest in Charlotte, NC.

Gone this year is the beat-your-card style competition, replaced with a simple elimination-style bracket. For the Qualifier and Semifinal rounds in Open, you need to turn in one of the top eight scores. If you’ve earned a bye it’s a bit of a blessing and a curse, as you’ll be an extra day removed from practice and also tasked with a more uphill climb. Sixteen MPO players in total will make it to the Semifinals Saturday, but only four will play for the title Sunday.

In FPO, it’s the same game, just scaled down. Sixteen women competed in the qualifier round, four were granted passage to the semis to matchup with Paige Pierce, Catrina Allen, Sarah Hokom, and Rebecca Cox. Only four of the eight will make it to Sunday.

The qualifiers are admittedly a bit of a snooze round in Open: there’s little incentive to push hard with the scores resetting in the quarterfinals. Advancing out of the qualifier round also sees you playing a second round after lunch, except now against eight fresh competitors who had earned their bye during the season. 

To quickly recap the morning rounds, Chris Dickerson and Michael Johansen did what they do best — shred wooded lines and make every putt they look at. They each turned in a 7-under par 56, each bogeying the very difficult opening hole and never again thereafter. Colten Montgomery began his day by turning in the second best score of 58 despite three bogeys and a missed Circle 1X putt. We’ll get back to him in a bit here.

Overall, the performances were safe and somewhat lackluster, with a 2-under par 61 being enough to find you in the top eight scores and making the midday meal taste a little bit sweeter.

FPO was far more interesting, especially given that they advance directly from the qualifiers to the semifinals. Holly Finley has really taken the “pars are good” mantra she adopted last week in Georgia to heart. She led the way with the only under par score in the qualifying round. Her 1-under par 64 was looking like a clean sheet until a bogey, double bogey one-two punch on the tricky holes 16 and 17 brought her stellar start back into the stratosphere.

Nevertheless, she bested the runners-up by three strokes and was never in danger of elimination. The rest of the field fought voraciously to snack on birdies, and many players paid the price with bloated bogeys dotting the scoresheet. Names jumped back and forth across the cut line throughout the round, but when the dust settled it was a four-way tie at 2-over par for three qualifying spots. Because the tiebreaker was regular season Tour Points, Vanessa Van Dyken was left on the outside looking in as Lisa Fajkus, Paige Bjerkaas, and Hailey King earned the invitation to play on Saturday.

Fajkus led the field in C1X putting at 89%, while Bjerkaas and King outpaced the field in fairway hits, staying out of the rough 79% of the time. Van Dyken connected with a string of birdies on 12, 13, and 14 to get back under par, and she looked to be in complete control of her destiny until a disastrous triple-bogey 7 on the 17th ended her DGPT season.

In the afternoon, the temperature warmed up to more reasonable autumn fare, and Philo Brathwaite took full advantage. His quarterfinal round was a bogey-free, 10-under par 53, two clear of Johansen, who can chalk that differential up to two missed putts inside the circle. Johansen did go 3-for-4 from C2 and capped his day off in front of the hometown crowd with an 88-foot birdie connection on hole 18.

Drew Gibson and Dickerson each made their way to 7-under par with quality golf that required all phases of their game to fire, while lefty Zach Melton strung together four birdies in the last five holes to also finish with a 56. Colten Montgomery finished one shy of that trio with a highlight reel round that included an 80-foot birdie putt to salvage a short upshot on an early par 4, and a near ace on hole 16. No, that’s not a typo. 

Muttering, “Do something good,” as the disc left his hand and pured the narrow gap before drop-hyzering downhill towards a blind, guarded green, Montgomery smashed the top of the basket so loudly that cards on the surrounding holes turned their heads (or maybe it was the locals yelling gleefully). Also making his way to a 57 was Paul Oman, besting his morning score by three and finishing in sixth.

The drama from the quarterfinals, however, came from the card featuring Jeremy Koling and Nate Perkins. Less than one-half of a Tour Point separated the two, and a two-stroke swing in Perkins’s favor tied them with two holes to play. Perkins upshot on 17 parked the pin, forcing Koling to find his third C2 connection on the day to preserve the tie going into 18. As the largest gallery of the day traversed the fairway behind them, Perkins placed his second shot within two meters of the basket, leaving Koling one last stretch attempt to oust him. Koling’s birdie attempt sailed by the chains on the pro side, and when the wishbone was broken it was Perkins holding the bigger piece. He would secure the final spot for the Saturday 16 after tying with Koling at 4-under par. 

  1. Jamie Thomas
    Jamie Thomas

    Jamie is the co-host of Ultiworld Disc Golf's The Upshot podcast, a course designer for DiscGolfPark, and a producer whose goal is to tell the story of the Disc Golf Community. He has produced content for SpinTV, DGWT, DGPT, and the PDGA, among others. He and his wife live in the San Francisco Bay Area, though if you ask them to call home they'll be Callin' Baton Rouge!

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