Cold, wind keep scoring down
March 12, 2022 by Cameron Guidry in News, Recap with 0 comments
The already challenging bEast course at Brazos East Park in Waco, Texas, was elevated by windy, cold weather on Friday, and game plans seemed to shift from scoring to survival across the board. Touring pros are skilled enough to combat extreme conditions, but it still provides a different view of the highest level of the game compared to the sunny skies and still winds just two weeks ago in Vegas. Pros take trusted discs out of their bag in favor of fresher, more overstable models, skips and ground play become heart-stopping moments while the disc decides whether it wants to sit or roll, and, most of all, the putting green becomes a dreaded locale, especially for players who traditionally use a push-putt to get to the basket.
Add in one of the toughest courses on tour to play with hallway shots through the woods and ample OB, and you’ve got a crucible that will truly allow for good golf (and luck) to shine through. With that, let’s take a look at how Sunday played out at WACO.
Wild weather brings variance, and that certainly bore out in Round 1 as mainstay Paul McBeth is joined atop the leaderboard at eight-under par by Virginia pro Nick Carl and host-turned-contender Luke Humphries. Between the three, you have an established champion, a rising star on a great streak, and a new face on the scene. While the wind may have opened the door for players like Carl or Humphries to pop while other elite players struggled, they flashed the bonafides to take the opportunity when it arose.
Carl’s 1075-rated round is the highest of his career. Humphries put down the second-highest rated round of his career after throwing his best ever round (1091 rated) two weeks ago in the final round of the Las Vegas Challenge.
McBeth seemed his normal amount of unflappable, only slipping on a double bogey where he got off of the fairway early and missed a putt inside Circle 1. If you caught his tournament at the Memorial last weekend, you may have noticed him reaching for the newly minted Captain’s Raptor, and in the poor weather it proved to be a valuable asset in his bag for drives and upshots alike. All three players took advantage of the easier front 9 and scored well before the longer wooded holes showed their teeth.
The 15th hole at the bEast is an iconic hole: it provides the cost-benefit assessment that only the best courses can offer, a long and narrow fairway with OB tight on either side, and 558′ between tee and basket. On Friday, there was more cost than benefit being doled out, as it played head and shoulders harder than any other hole on the course, coming in at 1.53 strokes over par (.79 strokes higher than the next hardest hole in 18). With gusts carrying shots into the street or flipping discs over the fence, it truly was the proving ground for the field, and only one competitor carded a birdie on it on the day (shout out to Ian Burchett with the 200’ throw-in).
After Round 1, 52% of players on the MPO side went OB on the 15th, and it should remain a separator throughout the tournament, even if the wind lessens.
Lizotte’s “Tentative” Return
We’ve seen Simon Lizotte sporadically throughout the past two years of competition, as he overcomes an elbow injury that has sapped him of his trademark power off the tee. After taking some extra offseason time to settle in with his newborn son, the itch overtook him to get back to playing, recalling that he “was watching LVC with this little baby and I got the itch to play.” Two weeks later and he’s had a strong start to his 2022 campaign, despite the fact that Brazos East does not seem like the type of course that would complement Lizotte’s playstyle. While there are park style holes bookending the course, the real scoring separators are found in the woods, with tight hallways and shallow branch ceilings.
But Lizotte seemed in command of his game on Friday, carding a strong two-under while staying clean through the toughest stretches of the day and flashing some great putting. He nailed a tough 40-footer early in the round, and came in at 80% from C1X on the day. Lizotte obviously has all the tools needed to contend on tour, and his celebrity on the course and the culture may only be eclipsed by Paul McBeth’s. Disc golf is certainly more interesting when he is playing, and Friday’s round hopefully heralds a strong and more consistent return.
- Paul Ulibarri shot a 13-over par and is in third-to-last place. It was a 942-rated round, his worst round at an Elite Series event or Major since the 2015 Maple Hill Open.
- Joel Freeman led all players in Strokes Gained from tee-to-green. His five-under par round was only held back by three OB strokes.
- A good sign for Ricky Wysocki: he went 3/9 putting from Circle 2, despite the windy conditions. His C2 putting was a weak spot at LVC in his first tournament with a new bag. He led the field in C2 strokes gained during WACO round one.
“It was hard to prepare for it, especially when yesterday it was 72 degrees….It’s tiring, it feels like everything is against you, you’ve got the elements against you, you get one bad break, you’re like “Why is everything against me?” It got to me on that one Par 4, but luckily I was able to snap back into it, knowing that even though the wind wasn’t in a favorable position, it was kind of a headwind for the remaining holes, I knew I could push a driver out there and potentially get a birdie on some of them. I just knew to stay in it.” -Paul McBeth, on how he deals with the mental aspect of poor weather.
“Nick doesn’t throw that far, that’s probably his biggest knock, but he’s very accurate, he comes from Maple Hill actually, [and a] tremendous putter. I don’t know how he putted today, but he’s typically at 100%. Really skilled golfer, but I’m happy to see him here, he’s been working hard.” -Paul McBeth, on Nick Carl and what to expect from him on the lead card
Shot of the Day
Cale Leiviska through the branches on hole 9!
Round One Highlights
What to Watch For
Keep your eyes on the unheralded at Waco: an underdog always seems to be in the mix late. Three of the top five lowest-rated players to win a DGPT Event have come from Waco: Jeremy Koling in 2017 and 2018, and Colten Montgomery in 2020. A win from any of the non-McBeth players on the lead card in round two — Nick Carl (1005), Luke Humphries (1016), or Andrew Fish (1026) — would certainly join those ranks.