Order emerges from chaos.
September 1, 2023 by Kingsley Flett in Analysis, Recap with 0 comments
It wasn’t chaos at all really. Jeff Spring and his team at Smugglers Notch did a fine job of handling the curve ball that Wednesday’s weather threw at the MPO field. The confusion was for the spectators following the action and the broadcasters working to bring them the story. Instead of filming a lead card, chase card and maybe one or two players elsewhere who were on a hot streak, the DGN crew had to spread out over the whole course. We had leaders playing their final holes and contenders charging up from the middle of the field – all while the feature cards had barely commenced their rounds.
One of those charging from the middle of the pack was Niklas Anttila. The young Finn, on the back of 90% fairway hits and 100% circle 1 putting, kept a clean card and scored 12 birdies to take the outright lead from Grady Shue on hole 17, after his hyzer on the dogleg left had sailed wide left and landed out of bounds but managed to roll back inside the circle to give him a birdie putt. After taking the standard wide, hyzer route over the right-side OB on hole 18 and landing the disc slightly left of the center of the fairway, Anttila opted to take the inside route, to the right of the guardian tree, delicately weaving a forehand shot that flexed through the gap and landed just beyond the basket, but caught an edge, stood up, and rolled out of bounds. The bogey was Anttila’s only blemish for the day and brought him back to a share of the lead with Shue.
“I just love this place,” Anttila said after the round. “It’s almost made for my style of golf. You just need to be on the fairway and make your putts and that’s all that matters here.”
I seems like Niklas wasn’t the only player feeling an affinity for the storied Fox Run track, with several players making huge climbs up the leaderboard despite the slightly disjointed schedule for the day. Co-leader Grady Shue, like Anttila, climbed 27 places, while Ricky Wysocki and Chris Dickerson both climbed 66 spots to make the lead card for round three. Wysocki finished the round on a confident note by burying a dangerous 40-foot putt with OB close behind the basket on hole 18.
“It feels like for me, that Fox Run is the easier course to score on,” said Wysocki after the round. “I was able to get on a run and took full advantage of it. Playing two rounds on the feature card with the cameras reminded me that I can play well under the pressure. It’s something I thrive in. I feel like 10 or 12 under is totally manageable for me at Brewster without too much risk, and then it’s game on at Fox for the final two rounds. There’s lots of birdies to be had as I showed today.”
The chase card for today’s third round reads like a roll call for generation next, with Anthony Barela, Cole Redalen, and Gannon Buhr all sharing third place with Wysocki and Dickerson, one stroke off the lead at 17-under. Then there’s the slightly unknown factor of Raven Newsom, who made the chase card from the B pool — which played the two courses in reverse order — a further throw back.
Then, where do we draw the line between those who are still in the pack of contenders and those who have fallen away? Five strokes back? Six? Eight? With 54 holes left to play, many of them scorable, it doesn’t pay to rule too much of the field out. If we say it’s eight strokes back, that takes us to 31st place, and in that group are plenty of people who are capable of surging into contention: Paul McBeth, Calvin Heimburg, Kyle Klein, Matthew Orum, Isaac Robinson, and the man who can seemingly win from anywhere, Simon Lizotte. We are being reminded, yet again, of what makes the Pro Worlds such a riveting spectacle.
Kristin in Control
In the FPO, it was primarily the Kristin Tattar show again, as she ground on mercilessly with her mistake-free golf in the more open but windier conditions on Fox Run Meadows. Tattar kept a clean sheet in her 7-under-par round to go to 15-under for the tournament and extend her lead over Missy Gannon to eight strokes.
But the score doesn’t tell the full story of that round and what might yet come to pass. Early mistakes from cardmates Valerie Mandujano and Kat Mertsch, who leaked a combined seven strokes in the first five holes, looked all the more devastating when compared to Tattar’s methodical 1-under par for the same stretch. It looked, from the outside, that this contrast in fortunes was eroding the confidence of the underdogs. It is easy to read too much into these things, but they both looked decidedly jittery. Then, when Missy Gannon let her upshot on hole 5 skip into the water, it looked like the nervousness and pessimism may have been contagious.
On the very next hole, the 265-foot hole 6, there was a fresh tailwind that threatened to push any aggressive shots long or cause an uncommitted throw to fade early, both into OB. Gannon didn’t let the previous hole or the wind diminish her intent though. She threw a turnover shot hard. The disc made the turn around the mid-fairway tree and slammed into the small tower at the base of the basket. It looked as if Missy had decided to fight. Allowing Tattar to get a comfortable enough lead to play her own unruffled game with no pressure would be to give the tournament away in the second round.
Gannon decided to make Tattar feel at least some pressure. She proceed to score seven birdies in the next nine holes and reduce Tattar’s lead by a stroke. A couple of late mistakes leading to bogeys — including a painful three putt on hole 18 when Gannon’s birdie putt into the headwind got pushed up and over the top of the basket, just ticking metal as it sailed down the hill — allowed Tattar’s lead to stretch back out to eight strokes by the end of play. Through her play in the middle of the round, though, Missy had let Kristin know she was there and that she would not go down easily.
The bell for round three rings in the morning at Brewster Ridge for FPO and in the afternoon for MPO. FPO seems to have already become a two-woman fight, while the MPO is still a melee. Let’s get ready to rumble.