Paul Ulibarri left the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s Minneosta Majestic really looking forward to the PDGA World Championships in Emporia, Kansas. The excitement quickly changed after an unexpected injury to his finger happened during a pick up basketball game before the tournament began.
Ulibarri was able to use a modified grip for the first few rounds, but pulled out midway through the tournament. As the DGPT restart this weekend in central Illinois with the Ledgestone Insurance Open, Ulibarri’s status is still up in the air.
We talked with Ulibarri Tuesday night.
The World Championships are behind you. You were forced to pull out before the semis. You hurt your finger at one point, right? How is that healing up?
“We were working out prior to the tournament and a few of us decided on a round of basketball and I just got unlucky and jammed my finger. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Didn’t hear anything like a pop. It swelled up later on. Went to the ice soon after and the next day it felt pretty bad. Decided not to play or practice to make sure I could play the next day at the tournament.”
“I took a disc in the parking lot of the hotel and tried to throw it and it was pretty painful. Took one shot and that was it. It was disappointing and it soon sunk in. It was terrible.”
“It’s feeling better now compared to what it was. It’s a little tender and with another day to rest before Ledgestone, I’m going to wait and see how I feel. If it started Tuesday, I wouldn’t play.”
“Day by day it’s getting better. I’m having someone look at it and get some feedback on it. I’ll know more then.”
Before Worlds you talked about how you had some mental fatigue. Was the whole Worlds experience something that help get over that hump?
“Not being able to play actually helped. I was pretty burnt out and not being able to practice helped me relax. I got a little sick too. Right now, I’m down since I haven’t been able to play. I got that itch again. It’s all I do. It’s bizarre to not compete or even practice. That’s my life.”
If you are able to play this weekend, is the idea for competing for points the biggest thing pushing you forward considering the injury?
“Yeah, not just the points this time, but it is a huge payout. It is a tournament that I think it suits my game more than anywhere. I love the OB and penalties for bad shots. It’s everywhere here. I really want to play here. This tournament is up there on my list… if I was healthy, top 10 would be a guarantee in my mind with how well I’ve been throwing.”
You played here last year… What are your thoughts on this stop on the Pro Tour?
“I’m not a big fan of the multiple courses, but we’re facing just two which isn’t bad. Eureka, the place we play last has OB everywhere. Longer shots. I actually enjoy that kind of golf. A lot of people bashed it last year, but if it is a well designed hole, I don’t mind the stroke and distance and stuff.”
With all things considered, what goals do you have this weekend?
“That’s tough. I don’t know if I can really make one. Finishing would be nice. It would all depend on how the finger is feeling. Last week was tough since I made the decision to play with a modified grip without any pain, but then my middle finger decided to hurt as I compensated for it and didn’t need a second injury. Dropping out was the thing to do at that point. Too much to risk.”
“Right now, I don’t think I’ll play. With the Brent Hambrick Memorial next, I’m in the points race with the National Tour too and I’ve played well there. Can’t guarantee I can play that either.”
We could hear in his voice the frustration that Ulibarri is going through. He was feeling pretty good leading up to Worlds and this injury might seem minor, but when your career is performed with your hands, it can really play a huge role. Best of luck to Ulibarri on a speedy recovery as he competes on the Disc Golf Pro Tour.