We’ve seen tons of action throughout the 2015 National Tour and this past weekend marked the seventh and final event of the NT season – the Hall of Fame Classic at the IDGC in Georgia. Each of the previous six NT events have featured some intense battles at the top of the leaderboard, and the Hall of Fame Classic wasn’t about to change things.
To cap off the 2015 National Tour, Michael Johansen battled Paul McBeth to the very end, taking a victory in a playoff while Paige Pierce hung on after a shaky second round to take the top spot over Valarie Jenkins. There was tons of post-production video coverage on hand with Marty McGee at Prodigy Disc and Jomez Productions, but let’s see how the tournament played out.
The Pro Open field was tight throughout the whole event, but Johansen prevails
One of the most interesting things about tournaments like the Hall of Fame Classic and the Maple Hill Open is seeing the best players in the world take on some heavily wooded courses. We saw the Beaver State Fling and last year’s Pro Worlds take place at the Milo McIver courses, which are fairly wooded in their own rights. Otherwise, the National Tour seems to hit courses that are far more open, which leads tournament directors like Nate Heinold at the Ledgestone Open to implement some artificial OB. None of that was necessary at the Hall of Fame Classic.
The tournament started out on the Steady Ed Headrick Memorial disc golf course, which amounted to a serious assault of birdies from some of the game’s best. What’s great about the wooded courses is that it seems to even the playing field for some of the shorter throwers. Sure, guys like Paul McBeth, Will Schusterick, Simon Lizotte and Dave Feldberg tore through the course.
But we also saw Matt Dollar, Barry Schultz, Ken Climo, and Nate Sexton at the top, who don’t quite throw as far. With the top 10 separated by just four strokes, it was clear that the W.R. Jackson Memorial disc golf course would have to the be the difference maker.
Michael Johansen and Paul McBeth shined at the W.R. Jackson course in Round 2. As we’ve come to expect from McBeth where others struggled to keep themselves in the tighter fairways, the four-time world champion played bogey-free golf, shooting a 1044-rated round. Johansen found trouble on Hole 5, carding the only bogey of the top 20 competitors. But other than that one mistake, Johansen shot lights out. His 12 birdies brought him into a tie for the round with McBeth, and placed him just one behind the McBeast heading into Sunday’s repeat round at W.R. Jackson.
Johansen and McBeth didn’t tear through the field like they did on Saturday. Guys like John E McCray, Will Schusterick, and Ricky Wysocki were able to storm back a bit with scores of 10-under par or better. However, Johansen and McBeth remained at the top.
Hole 13 was a difference maker for this matchup. Heading into Hole 13, Johansen found himself three strokes ahead of McBeth – an unusual situation for the final day of an event. With a bogey on Hole 13 and McBeth’s birdie, Johansen’s lead shrunk, and shrunk again when McBeth birdied 15. The two battled through the last three holes, tying for the event and heading to a playoff.
It seems like every playoff in the Pro Open division includes Paul McBeth and he’s so tough to beat in them. McBeth and Johansen traded birdies on the first three holes of the playoff before heading to Hole 4. After two safe drives, Johansen left himself with some work to do after his second shot, but McBeth hit an early tree and found himself in some deeper trouble.
McBeth’s third shot also found some trees and left him about 65 feet away from the basket as Johansen laid up and was facing a 15 foot shot for par himself.
McBeth’s 65 foot attempt hit the bottom cage of the basket and left him just short. Johansen stepped up confidently and drained the par putt to take home the win!
Congrats to Paige Pierce for her win this morning and to Michael Johansen for his win in the playoff at the #2015HOFC presented by MVP Disc Sports! Paul McBeth and Paige Pierce are your 2015 PDGA National Tour Elite Series overall points winners, by a landslide. What an amazing season. Only USWDGC and USDGC remain!
Posted by Professional Disc Golf Association on Sunday, September 13, 2015
You don’t hear Johansen’s name a lot on tour, but he dominates in the woods of North Carolina and he brought that skill down to Georgia for a huge win to end the 2015 National Tour.
Paige Pierce had an up-and-down tournament, but hangs on for the victory
It’s fairly common to see big scoring swings in the Pro Women division and the Hall of Fame Classic kept up the trend. Paige Pierce came out hot on the Steady Ed course, edging out Catrina Allen, Sarah Hokom, and Val Jenkins. However, it was still anyone’s tournament to take, and all four of these women have been playing exceptionally over the past couple of months.
Pierce took to the W.R. Jackson course in the hopes of keeping up her strong play, but had a troubling run-in with the tougher course. Her 5-over par wasn’t quite good enough to keep up with Val Jenkins and Sarah Hokom. With Catrina Allen struggling as well, the match actually stayed tight. Jenkins and Hokom were in the lead, but Pierce was just one behind with a chance at redemption on the W.R. Jackson course on Sunday.
Despite a double-bogey to end the round, Pierce shot 7 strokes better on the Jackson course. As the only woman to shoot under par on Sunday, she was able to overtake the competition and secure a two stroke lead. Jenkins, Allen, and Hokom rounded out the top 5.
The National Tour is over, but who says disc golf has to be? There’s still one more major left in 2015, and it’s arguably the biggest event of the year—the United States Disc Golf Championship. Do you think Paul McBeth can finally take down the illusive event? Or can Will Schusterick take a fourth victory at Rock Hill? We’ll find out in a few weeks!