A wire-to-wire win.
March 14, 2022 by Cameron Guidry in News, Recap with 0 comments
After a slow start to his 2021 season, Paul McBeth is wasting no time in his 2022 campaign, emerging victorious in his first two outings and looking poised for dominance similar to his 2019 season. He comfortably won the 2022 Waco Annual Charity Open at 23-under par, three strokes ahead of Luke Humphries.
While his final round started slow with three straight pars, McBeth quickly got back on track, keeping any hopefuls at a distance with seven straight birdies on some of the most challenging holes Waco has to offer. His save on the 9th was a bullseye from the rough, and he started his day needing a 50 footer just to save par. It was the theme of the weekend for McBeth: his best moments came from excellent saves on errant drives. Whether it came on the green or on upshots, it was his ability to escape bad situations with minimal to no damage that set him apart.
“Felt great this week,” said McBeth. “I was able to tie Luke [Humpries] and Nick [Carl] after that first round to jump in the lead early and kind of just stay there, so I’m really happy with this week.”
Even with his dominance in the middle stretch of the round, McBeth let the door squeak open just enough for some intrigue, starting on the 12th. He seemed to find a new spectrum of the Waco thickets, even asking himself, “How did I get in there?” The ensuing bogey was the start of McBeth seeming to take his foot off the gas, finishing the round even on the back 9, though he was never really pressured by his competitors. His back-to-back bogeys to finish the round may seem worrisome, but they largely came in the name of caution; his weakest moment was a par on 14 after missing a putt from inside the circle, and even then his lead was only narrowed to four strokes. It was a wire-to-wire win for McBeth: even with slight falters late, he had done his work early to make himself uncatchable by the turn on Sunday.
It was McBeth’s 16th DGPT Elite Series win and his first back-to-back tournament wins (following last weekend’s Memorial victory) since July 2020.
After skipping Las Vegas Challenge to start the season, though, he does not lead the DGPT points standings. Ladies and gentlemen, your tour points leader after two events: Luke Humphries!
While for most of the round it looked like Humphries would be eclipsed by other surging players, it was the Prodigy pro’s consistency that left him standing in second place at the end of the tournament. As his fellow cardmates fluctuated and eventually fell off the pace, standing on the 17th tee it was Humphries who had the box and the potential to put the smallest bit of pressure on McBeth. He turned to his forehand, which had been excellent all weekend, and he delivered. He placed his drive in the ideal landing zone, looking down at the peninsula green with a great angle. Despite his great position, the upshot on that hole is one of the toughest to execute on the entire course, but a low laser forehand put Humphries right next to the pin, as the rest of his card found various OB on very similar shots. With his deficit to McBeth cut to two, and the 18th having an inherent scoring separator in its large water carry, Humphries, with second place firmly in hand, perhaps should have tried to go for the birdie despite the headwind, but he clearly knew his limits and just laid up.
After back-to-back top five finishes, the Kansas native is off to a tremendous start to his 2022 season, flashing better statistics across the board and averaging 1053-rated golf through his seven rounds this year. Accuracy was again Humphries calling card, playing smooth in the woods and casually canning 30 footers whenever he needed them. LVC brought a rising star to the forefront in Gannon Buhr, and the same questions we asked then now arise again: how high can Luke Humphries rise?
Chris Dickerson served as the last real hopeful on Sunday, sitting in second place for much of the round. Like McBeth, he started his round slow, taking back-to-back bogeys, but caught fire with seven straight birdies to keep pace with the leader. However, as McBeth showed cracks, so did Dickerson. When McBeth made his bogey on 12, Dickerson only grabbed a single stroke back, missing a C2 birdie putt and settling for par. Then, on the 14th, as McBeth missed a rare C1X putt, Dickerson flubbed his upshot into an early tree and had to settle for par as well. It was a day for missed opportunities for Dickerson, and his finish was the most blatant example of that, going four-over on his final two holes. These errors were not even a result of Dickerson pushing too hard to nab a higher spot: on 17, he just missed his upshot with an early release, and on 18, he laid up but again missed his upshot and found OB. At that point, Dickerson was attempting to hang on to 3rd as much as he was trying to claim solo second, and with his finish he dropped to a tie for 5th. These errors are very unlike Dickerson. While his early season highs have been more than enough to contend, both at LVC and Waco his consistency has been left wanting. Dickerson may be finding himself challenged by his first trip out west on tour, and his play is certainly something to track from week to week to see how he settles in.
- We’re not in Vegas any longer. Gone are the open fairways and scorching scorecards; in their place were blustery winds, cold temperatures, and tight woods. While the summer months may bring about gentler weather, the wind and the woods will be talking points once again. Pros will likely be dusting off their overstable plastic in Tyler and Emporia, and this weekend should serve as a strong indicator of who can play when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
- The last time McBeth won a tournament this early in the season, he went on an absolute tear and dominated the season in 2019. That season, starting with Waco, he won 14 events, including 7 DGPT tournament and 3 Majors. If history is any indication, buckle up for a big season from the McBeast.
“For the fans, for us here up in the booth, let’s move that teepad 50 feet up. It would be fireworks!” – Nate Sexton expressing frustration with the distance of hole 15, removing intrigue as players laid up, card after card.
“It’s incredible, I think these ticket sales have really changed the sport, because people are buying tickets, and showing up from beginning to end. They’ve invested into it, and I’m noticing that they’ll come watch in the morning, watch the women play, then go to lunch, and then they’ll show up out here and watch the open card. It’s incredible.” – Paul McBeth on the sold-out crowds at WACO and what it means for the sport.