Las Vegas Challenge: McMahon Breaks Away To Win Second LVC

Final Round Recap

Eagle McMahon. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen – DGPT

Eagle McMahon had been in this position before. In 2018, McMahon took the lead during the third round of the Las Vegas Challenge and pulled away on the final day of the tournament to win his first Elite Series event.1

It was a similar situation in 2021 for McMahon, except this year he was trying to win against the highest cumulative rating on a single disc golf card in history, as all four players from the lead card are currently at a 1050 rating or above.

“I can’t believe how it went down with the top four players in the world —  you know we’d like to have [Chris] Dickerson here — all the 1050 guys at the event going in the final round,” said McMahon. “I wasn’t expecting an outcome like this.”

All four leaders–McMahon, Calvin Heimburg, Paul McBeth, and Ricky Wysocki–shot double-digits under par on the Innova course Friday during round two, but the winds had picked back up from the extremely favorable scoring conditions two days prior. Regardless, it was going to be a birdie or nothing mentality, and that meant no error would go unpunished.

Heimburg, the 2019 LVC champion, had not fallen below second place after being the day one leader of the tournament and had played 53 holes of bogey-free golf after double-bogeying the first hole of the event on Thursday. He was one stroke back of McMahon to start the final round. Barring a collapse, Heimburg seemed the only person capable of catching McMahon.

Almost immediately, McMahon created the necessary scoring separation to start feeling more comfortable, if that’s possible on a birdie-or-die course. McBeth and Wysocki were able to keep up early but were a couple of strokes back as McMahon opened the round with five consecutive birdies. Meanwhile Heimburg added a bogey to a couple pars, and even needed a 50-foot uphill comebacker to salvage the bogey. McMahon was up five strokes in an instant.

“I just kept my head down early and took advantage of the other players’ mistakes,” said McMahon. “I was fortunate enough to build a hefty lead from the start.”

A double-bogey from McBeth on the short hole 6 cooled a run, and a number of bogeys from Heimburg, who appeared to have run out of course karma, essentially took the two out of contention for a tournament win. Wysocki was still lingering, keeping McMahon honest, until he too had a par stretch after the turn.

McMahon gave nothing away in the middle part of the round. Then, on hole 11, he gained another stroke on the card by sailing his forehand wide down the left side of the fairway and skipping into the circle. The rest of the card slid into the gutter on the right. It was another par three where McMahon showed the superior touch. On holes 12 and 13, he threw two huge spike hyzers off the tee that would look like circus shots to almost anyone else playing the game – but for McMahon are high percentage plays. His shot on 12
brought up a puff of dust just beyond the basket; his birdie was part of a star frame that included another Heimburg 50-footer through the tree branches. He repeated the dose for another birdie on 13 that took a stroke off Wysocki, leaving only Heimburg and a hard charging Ezra Aderhold on the second card with a glimmer of hope to catch McMahon.

Some miscues from each of them plus continued clean play from McMahon left no doubt about who would hoist the trophy. Holding what every player wants when they are walking up the fairway of 18 – an unbeatable lead – Eagle had one last party trick as he threw the ‘ridiculously overstable’ Tilt upside down for his approach shot, before laying up and tapping in for the win.

“It being the first event of the year, this is really a big bonus,” said McMahon. “Now I’ve got a target on my back but I kind of like it. It alleviates some pressure because it’s always nice to get a win during the year but to get the first one feels really great.”

For the event, McMahon led the division in every major driving category, including a 63% Circle 1 in regulation rate. His 19.24 strokes gained from tee-to-green was best in the field, and his stroke gained putting were fourth best, trailing Wysocki, Heimburg, and James Conrad.

The win is McMahon’s first DGPT victory of the year and fourth of his career. He currently has four PDGA National Tour and one Major championship as well.

Day two tournament leader Ezra Aderhold was able to climb back into a tie for second place with Heimburg at 40-under par total with an 11-under par final round. Heimburg, 6-under par final round, should have had an easy par on hole 18 to take solo second but misplayed an upshot resulting in a bogey and tie with Aderhold. It is Aderhold’s best career Elite Series finish.

Garrett Gurthie jumped Wysocki to take fourth place with a 12-under par final round. Wysocki, with an 8-under par final round, finished fifth. McBeth’s 3-under par final round dropped him six spots on the leaderboard into ninth place with a 1013-rated effort. Not counting the 2019 USDGC in which he was injured, the last time McBeth dropped as many places during the final round was at the 2019 Las Vegas Challenge.

Aderhold, Drew Gibson (6th), Kevin Jones (T-7th), Brian Earhart (T-7th), and Clint Calvin (10th) qualified for the 2021 USDGC.

  1. In 2o18, the LVC was a PDGA National Tour event. 

  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. Email him at [email protected]

  2. Kingsley Flett
    Kingsley Flett

    Kingsley Flett is a writer, photographer, and disc golfer who lives in Western Australia. You can find some more of his work on Instagram. He told us that he rides a Kangaroo to work every day, but we don’t believe him.

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