The disc golf season usually officially kicks off with the National Tour stop, the Memorial Championship at Fountain Hills in Arizona. This year, though, Discmania and the PDGA introduced disc golf’s first major event in the southern hemisphere, the Aussie Open. The travel expenses and length of the trip to Australia kept many pros away, but 5 of the 10 highest rated men in the world were on scene. In the end, Innova teammates Paul McBeth and Valarie Jenkins started the year off with wins.
The Aussie Open was held at the Mundaring Disc Golf Park in Perth, Western Australia. The Mundaring course provides difficulties for even the greatest of disc golfers. With a par of 65 and some truly massive holes (Hole 16 comes in at 1230 feet), the games farthest throwers were sure to be rewarded. Almost every hole on the course is lined with OB, though, so risk/reward plays would cause problems for all players. The SpinTV provided walkthrough of each hole at Mundaring Disc Golf Park so you can see just what the disc golfers were dealing with throughout the Aussie Open.
While much of the United States is experiencing cold winter weather and, in some places, blizzard conditions, Australia is in the middle of its summer season. Temperatures around 100ºF forced every competitor to come well prepared to the Mundaring Disc Golf Park. Extra water, cool towels, dirt or birdie bags, and much more filled the bags of players as they tried to overcome the elements. It’s one thing to have to beat the massive, yet technical, Mundaring course, but battling the weather conditions poses entirely different problems. The Aussie Open winners needed to keep calm, cool, and collected in all senses of the words.
Paul McBeth picks up right where he left off in 2014
The best disc golfer in the world has well documented practice habits, and it’s clear that they pay off. McBeth was set to take on the likes of Nate Doss, Dave Feldberg, Ricky Wysocki, and Simon Lizotte throughout the long, hot weekend. You might expect some players to come out of the gates a bit rusty after a somewhat short offseason, but some of these pros would have none of that.
In his interview with SmashBoxxTV, Nate Doss talked about the fact that he likes to put his discs away for the offseason. This year, especially, Doss spent some time after USDGC marrying fellow disc golfer, Val Jenkins, and going off on a honeymoon.
Despite minimal offseason practice, Round 1 of the 2015 Aussie Open belonged to Doss. His 1054-rated 56 gave him sole possession of first place, and the disc golf world was abuzz with the possibility of the first ever husband/wife victory as Val Jenkins dismantled the small women’s field. Paul McBeth had other plans, though, as he sat just one stroke back of Doss after his round of 57.
For the next three rounds, the competition belonged to McBeth and Simon Lizotte. After falling behind the pack with a 1011-rated 62, Lizotte needed to play to his big arm advantage to get back into the action. The second round was all about McBeth and Lizotte and they both posted 1075-rated 53s. After falling behind a bit in the first round, Lizotte was able to pull into a tie with Nate Doss for second place on the lead card for Round 3.
McBeth and Lizotte were relentless in Round 3. McBeth may have come in with a 5 stroke lead over the farthest throwing player in the game, but that did not deter Lizotte. The 3-time defending world champion and the German sensation went out and topped their Round 2 performances, tying each other for the new course record of 52. What more do you need to do to top McBeth? The reigning world champion and highest rated player in the game has his sights set on a fourth championship and he’s starting 2015 off strong.
Paul McBeth has always performed beyond any expectations during final rounds, so giving him a 5 stroke lead heading into Sunday creates a really big challenge for the field. It seems that Ricky Wysocki has been the player closest to toppling the current world champ, but he couldn’t quite keep up with Lizotte and McBeth during the second and third rounds. In Round 4, though, the rust seemed to wear off and Ricky came storming back. His final round score of 55 was easily the hot round and, had he kept closer throughout the week, might have been enough to overtake the field. He gained 5 strokes on Lizotte and 4 on McBeth to finish third overall.
Without a lot of ups and downs during this event, McBeth’s usual consistency earned him the coveted didgeridoo trophy. Lizotte consistently proves that he is a superstar in disc golf and it should be interesting to see if he can take Paul down as this season moves forward.
Valarie Jenkins runs away with the women’s competition
Many of the best female disc golfers weren’t able to make such a major travel plan to start the season off. Valarie Jenkins was the premier female player at the 2015 Aussie Open, and it showed. Not only did Val run away with the victory over the other women, she would have placed in the top 10 for the men’s field.
Valarie Jenkins is a proven winner, having built up a more than impressive resume (15 major wins, 29 major wins, 3 time world champion, and so on), but her scores for the event are indicative of the growing female disc golf talent. Paige Pierce’s performance at the 2014 USDGC and Val’s ability to crush the long and challenging Mundering Disc Golf Park are just two examples of the impressive play of female disc golfers.
It’s only February, and we get to start thinking about our 2015 disc golf schedule. As always, All Things Disc Golf will bring you the weekly A-tier and major/NT action throughout the world of disc golf. In two weeks, Las Vegas will play host to the Gentleman’s Club Challenge, which has often been seen as the kick starter for the disc golf season as pros gear up for the Memorial Championship. A few days after the GCC ends, the first NT stop will be upon us and everyone will be looking to make their mark on the 2015 season.