Round 2 Recap
May 22, 2022 by Cameron Guidry in News, Recap with 0 comments
STOCKTON, Cal. — 2022 did not seem like the year that Simon Lizotte would make his return to the top tier of elite disc golf.
Between his rehab, the birth of his child, and general rust from years away from the most competitive aspects of the game, it would be understandable if he would slowly build back toward the heights of his career. Lizotte, as with everything, clearly did not see it the same way as the rest of us.
While he started his year slow with mediocre finishes at WACO and Champions Cup, he is putting together a consistent streak of strong play, placing 6th at Jonesboro, 2nd at DDO, and now he’s off on the right foot again in Stockton.
Lizotte’s game seems to be boiled down to the essentials at this point (aside from the rare Simon line, like his drive on Hole 6), and he appears to be using his world-class power to gain advantages via traditional lines rather than game-breaking, high-risk attempts. Despite steadier play than in the past, he was still a highlight machine on Friday, dropping in a throw-in eagle, more than a handful of long-range putts, and even sprinkling in a few forehands for good measure. Saturday saw him take full control of the lead, shooting a stellar 4-under on the challenging Swenson Park course with the difficulty cranked up in the wind. Lizotte may have played better in his second round despite the tougher conditions, putting up a bogey-free round with an absolutely scorching 7-under front nine. He may have cooled off in the back half, but he is confidently cashing in putts and getting off the tee accurately, looking as poised as ever despite his time away.
A Simon Lizotte win would be the feel-good story of the year, and disc golf’s darling is on the right track to make it come true.
Big Throwers Rise To The Top
The trifecta of Anthony Barela, Calvin Heimburg, and Drew Gibson fill out the rest of the lead card and submit a data point to the theory that Swenson is built for the long ball. Barela, especially, was on fire on Saturday, shooting the hot round of 10-under, doing so with his prototypical big distance shots. Between the four members of the final round lead card, you may have four of the five longest throwers in the game, with Eagle McMahon not in attendance. With the “meta” of disc golf moving increasingly toward increasing distance to increase difficulty, success will potentially start to skew toward those who can keep up with the demands of a course like Swenson. While the Tour is varied enough to see all different play styles succeed, after two rounds, it looks like OTB belongs to the big arms.
Injuries Thrust to the Forefront of The Tour
Between Ricky Wysocki and Eagle McMahon, two of the prohibitive top 5 players in the world are currently attempting to fight through injuries that are keeping them from playing their best. While disc golf isn’t the high impact sport compared to basketball or football, these athletes are performing repetitive motions at high intensity and subjecting themselves to an incredible amount of wear likely most comparable to the likes of an MLB pitcher. While Wysocki’s injury is reportedly non-disc golf-related (he says it is due to a flareup of joint swelling from his bout with Lyme Disease), McMahon and Gavin Rathbun have seen their bodies experience wear after the grind of a tour. All three are high-torque and power throwers, and the compressed nature of the Tour has begun to raise questions about the safety of player’s bodies and the impact injuries like this will continue to have on their livelihoods and the level of competition in the sport as a whole. This weekend is just another unmistakable example of the injury bug rearing its head on the sport’s biggest stage.
Wysocki Still Affected By Knee Flareup
Ricky Wysocki, coming off an Elite Series victory at DDO, is battling health problems that are clearly affecting his demeanor. After pulling out of Master’s Cup, Wysocki is playing in Stockton, albeit with a pronounced limp and equipment caring for his swelled knee. While the injury is clearly bothering him, he has made the choice to play through it at Swenson. “I didn’t even know if I was going to play going into the round today, I just showed up, and did some warm-up…,” he said. “Just was going to make a game-time decision on whether I was going to play, and luckily I felt good enough with a bunch of ibuprofen in order to mask the pain a little bit. It’s tough: I’m essentially playing on one leg, and I think mental stamina, that’s the word of the day for me. I think that’s something I do really well, I fight through tough conditions, I fight through adversity, and I think that if it can stay like this or get a little better through the next two rounds, I’ll be pumped.”
Despite a top 5 finish on Friday, Wysocki fell 11 spots and is likely out of contention for the win, but he is playing admirably despite the adversity he faces.
Gossage Loves Stockton
It was the 2021 OTB Open where Aaron Gossage announced himself on the scene, and he’s back and playing just as well in the 2022 iteration. Gossage made the Saturday lead card off the back of his line-drive power and forehand/backhand versatility, which he put toward a 6-under start through the first 11 holes. He seemed to go cold later in the round, failing to card a birdie after the 11th and taking two bogies to drop him back in the standings, but he’s still in a position to challenge for the win. On Saturday, he kept the pace well enough to remain in a tie for 4th, with some wild ups and downs including a 200+ ft throw-in for a birdie to start his round with a bang. Gossage has the power to compete with the leaders this weekend, it’s up to him to put down his 3rd straight solid round and flash the consistency needed to win an Elite series these days.
Simon Lizotte has not won an event since August of 2020 and has not won an Elite Series since the 2018 Memorial. At the Memorial, Lizotte shot a 1048, a 1069, and a 1096 on his way to victory, getting better every round. So far this weekend? He’s shot a 1048 and a 1061. The path has been laid out before him.