2021 Masters Cup Preview: Who Can Unseat The Blue Bloods In Santa Cruz?

72 holes over three rounds on one of disc golf's most beloved venues

Because our last memory of DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course and the Santa Cruz Masters Cup in 2019 includes a triumphant Garrett Gurthie finally taking down a PDGA National Tour win, it can be easy to forget that the event has really been a two-sided affair in both divisions for almost a decade.

I’ll give you all of one second to think of who those four players could be. Yes, you’re right. Since 2011, Paul McBeth (5), Paige Pierce (4), Catrina Allen (4), and Ricky Wysocki (2) account for 15 of the available 18 titles. DeLa has also been the setting for some of the quartet’s highest career rated rounds, such as McBeth’s 1102-rated opener in 2017.

As kind as DeLa can be to the blue bloods, it also often sees players outplaying their rating and earning a top 10 finish. That may especially be true in 2021 with all three rounds on the disc golf course. In the past three Open events, two sub-1000-rated players1 finished seventh or better, and a young Austin Turner made back-to-back top 10s in 2017 and 2018. Similarly, the 920-930 rated Open Women’s players challenge for a podium spot at a higher frequency in Santa Cruz.

The PDGA National Tour will take an extended break through the summer, meaning the NT point series should have a good shape to it by weekend’s end. Pierce skipped the Dynamic Discs Open and a poor finish at Texas States has her in 24th, while Hailey King is 2-for-2 in NTs this season and 20 points clear of second place Allen. King will need to shake-off the rough final round at USWDGC to maintain the strong start. Meanwhile Wysocki and McBeth are neck-and-neck after splitting the first NTs, and a second tier of fellow 1050s lurks close behind.

Past Winners

PDGA TierOpenOpen Women
2019NTGarrett GurthieCatrina Allen
2018NTRicky WysockiPaige Pierce
2017NTPaul McBethPaige Pierce
2016NTRicky WysockiCatrina Allen
2015NTPaul McBethPaige Pierce
2014NTPaul McBethCatrina Allen
2013NTPaul McBethCatrina Allen
2012NTPaul McBethSarah Hokom
2011BJosh AnthonPaige Pierce
2010NTKen ClimoCarrie Berlogar
2009NTGregg BarsbyValarie Jenkins
2008NTSteve RicoValarie Jenkins
2007NTJosh AnthonDes Reading
2006NTKen ClimoJuliana Korver
2005NTSteve RicoCarrie Berlogar
2004NTKen ClimoJuliana Korver
2003BMicah DoriusCarrie Berlogar
2002ABarry SchultzAnni Kreml
2001ASteve RicoJuliana Korver
2000ABarry SchultzShelly Bunch
1999ABarry SchultzJuliana Korver
1998AKen ClimoAnni Kreml
1997AJohn AhartAnni Kreml
1996AKen ClimoAnni Kreml
1995AGeoff LissamanMichelle Wade
1994AScott StokelyAnni Kreml
1993AKen ClimoKelly Knapp
1992ASam FerransAmye Jerez
1991CSteve ValenciaAmye Jerez
1990CMike LoyaAmy Schiller
1989CSam Ferransn/a
1988CMichael WilliamsAmye Jerez
1987CGeoff LissamanKathy Tanizawa
1986CJohnny LissamanKathy Tanizawa

What We’re Watching

  • It’s always a pleasure to watch a local work an Elite Series venue, and Santa Cruz’s Matt Bell has done just that in the past. Bell has a B-tier win and Disc Golf Pro Tour top five this season, but is averaging a finish in the 30s at other big events. If we were a betting site we’d say Bell finishes in the top 20.
  • While many men were able to take a weeks’ worth of rest after the OTB Open, the majority of the women in the field are coming off a busy month that included last week’s United States Women’s Disc Golf Championship. After trekking up and down DeLa’s terrain for 24 holes a day, will tired legs come into play down the stretch on Sunday?
  • Ella Hansen nabbed a podium in NorCal already at USWDGC, and DeLa could prove to be another course that suits her game. The winning FPO score at the Masters Cup is usually a couple strokes away from par in either the positive or negative direction, but Hansen may have the power to get herself into more scoring opportunities than many others in the field. It’s the same reason Allen and Pierce have been able to dominate the event over time.

GRIP6 Pick 6 Lock Of The Week

By now you know that Calvin Heimburg has yet to finish outside of the top five in 2021. Heimburg has only ever made it out to Santa Cruz once before, in 2019, and finished fourth, helping him en route to a PDGA NT points title that season. You have to hit lines on DeLa and he’s got that in spades.

We’re hoping for a Sarah Hokom return to the course this week, but in the meantime we’ll hedge with Madison Walker. Walker’s playing better than her finishes indicate and she’s got two consecutive top five finishes at Masters Cup, granted she made up some strokes each event over on the golf course.

The Course

DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course: MPO – 8,499 feet, par 75; FPO – 8,499 feet, par 75

Don’t let the high par catch you off guard, we’ve got the 24 hole layout to play!

This is still the DeLa you know. Low ceilings, 2-meter rule, hard pack and tricky ground play, and, of course,  roll-aways are always a danger. We do, however, have four new pin locations. Tournament holes 14, 16, and 17 have all been extended into par 4s, and hole 12 will be playing in a further right pin position that was only used for the amateur divisions in 2019.

Masters Cup DeLa Caddy Book

Extended Forecast

A fairly benign weather pattern has set up across the west coast of the United States. This will lead to nice weather conditions for the weekend in Santa Cruz, California. Each day should see a gradual increase in temperatures while the wind will remain relatively low. No rain is expected.

Friday: Afternoon highs will top out near 67°. A light southwest wind of 5 to 10 mph will be possible in the afternoon.

Saturday: Afternoon highs will inch closer to that 70° mark. Once again, southwest winds of 5 to 10 mph will be possible.

Sunday: The temperatures really warm up on Sunday as upper level ridging begins to work into the area. Highs will top out in the upper 70s. A gentle west breeze will be possible from time to time.

How To Watch

Follow livescoring on UDisc Live. For video round coverage, see our previous post:

How To Watch The 2021 Santa Cruz Masters Cup

  1. at the time 

  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]

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