They say it is not how you start, but how you finish. For Paul McBeth and Simon Lizotte, that phrase proved correct during the first round of the 2016 La Mirada Open.
Playing in the final group of the day, McBeth rode a hot putter to put himself in a one shot lead after his 52 (-11) to open up the three-day tournament. McBeth has company with Lizotte one shot behind after the long distance champion used a great short game to finish with a 53 (-10).
McBeth started the round with two straight birdies, but then dropped another stroke after a bogey on hole three leading to a slower start than many expected to see. A trio of pars from holes 5-7 set the stage for McBeth to find another gear as the group approached the back nine.
Holes 8-13 proved kind to the four-time PDGA World Champion thanks to well placed drives and even better putting leading to five birdies over the six hole stretch.
A par on Hole 14 could have slowed the momentum, but McBeth laid on the gas pedal for the last four holes. After a few errant shots, McBeth hit a putting groove and nailed three straight outside-the-circle putts before hitting an easy birdie on Hole 18 to close with the hot round of the afternoon.
After the round McBeth said he didn’t feel like he played that great, “I had a lot of sloppy play. I made up for it with the outside the circle putts. If I can clean it up a little bit, I can make it a little easier on myself.”
According to the Disc Golf Metrix, McBeth hit 94% of his inside the circle putts, but only hit 50% of the greens in regulation.
“This is close to home. I feel like I’ve been here before,” McBeth said in regards to the unique course design. “I played this course quite a few times, while the layout is new to me, I feel very comfortable here.”
Lizotte sits one shot behind
Lurking in second place, Lizotte carries momentum into round two thanks to a hot finish of birdies on the three final holes and five of the last seven to close the round.
Lizotte did have one penalty stroke on Hole 8 and two inside the circle putts after hitting the green on Hole 15 to slow the momentum slightly.
Lizotte believes he left some shots out on the course, “I could have shot eight birdies on the back, but fluffed two approaches which should have been easy for me after nice drives, but I guess I have to leave some room for improvement.”
Owens, Melton slide into third
Playing on the same card, Devan Owens and Zach Melton battled their way to a tie for third with a pair of 54s (-9). Owens was consistent from start to finish with only one bogey to go along with 10 pars.
Melton found his groove on the front nine with birdies on seven of the first eight holes. The momentum slowed slightly on the back nine an included a roller coaster finish with outside-the-circle putts on holes 16 and 18 to go on either end of a bogey on Hole 17 after hitting out of bounds. In fact, Melton had three penalty strokes during the first round.
Catrina Allen cards up and down first round
As the only female in the event, Catrina Allen came into the tournament wanting to prove she can compete with the top male disc golfers in the world. Thanks to two straight birdies to end the round, Allen finished with a 64 (+1) to put herself in a tie for 44th.
“This round felt ok. Not as consistent as I like to play. A little more up and down,” Allen said. “It felt like every time I had a birdie I’d follow it with a bogey. I still have room for improvement and just need to make a few adjustments.”
Live coverage of round two begins at 2:30 p.m. (PST) on The SpinTV. Hosts Jamie Thomas and Avery Jenkins will recap the days action before setting the stage for the final cards to come through the tough La Mirada Course.