As we’ve talked to Paul Ulibarri throughout the year as he traveled on the Disc Golf Pro Tour, one thing has been consistent from start to finish. His confidence.
Ulibarri has stated before every tournament he has felt really good going into it, but hasn’t been able to put together a complete tournament. Strong finishes have been common, but often have been paired with slower starts.
As his confidence was higher than ever going into the PDGA World Championships, an injury to a finger on his throwing hand slowed things down. Recovery has gone well and Ulibarri is ready to take on the Green Mountain Championships which lead into the Tour Championships this weekend at Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Vermont. On top of the confidence, Ulibarri is coming off a win at the Nantucket Disc Golf Open last weekend.
We talked with Ulibarri last night after another day of practice before the Disc Golf Pro Tour finale.
What have you been up to the last few weeks? How’s the finger?
“Went to Toronto for a tournament and then to Nantucket for another one. Toronto was tough with the finger still being a little injured. Took third and was happy considering everything. The win in Nantucket felt great.”
“I woke up on my birthday, walked to the course in Nantucket and was for the first time was pain free. That was a great birthday present form the disc golf gods.”
“The finger is about 80% right now. It gets sore quickly. I played two rounds Tuesday and when I throw it will aggravate it at times, but it doesn’t effect it much.”
You are now at the final event on the Pro Tour, the Green Mountain Championships. You currently sit 13th in the Pro Tour Standings, just outside the top 8 which automatically make the semifinals. Taking this as two events and first looking for a strong finish in the GMC?
“My focus first is to make sure I’m healthy. If I’m healthy, I’ll play great. Full of confidence right now and played great last weekend with the win. As long as I’m healthy, I can do just fine.”
“I’ll play this tournament and finish top three. If I stay focused, I can do that. That will help me get into that top 8 and get in the semifinals and avoid one round in the Tour Championship. That top 8 get a bye and I’d love that.”
“The only way I can automatically get into that semifinals is with a top three finish. Otherwise, I’m going to have to play another whole round to get into the semis, then one more round before the finals. A bye would be amazing.”
“It comes down to playing good first and then take care of the rest.”
If you are able to qualify for the Tour Championship, can you treat it as mini tournaments? Win your card and move on? What is your mindset?
“I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to get that top three. I don’t typically do that unless its a major. I’m hungry. I want to get into the semifinals and perform well. I was trending well before my injury and playing maybe the best I ever have. I’ve been down, but I want to get back on the horse from where I started.”
“I have so much confidence. If I show up, it will happen. I don’t think anyone is throwing the disc better than me right now. My putting is good too. I’m treating this as an important tournament, but I’m already keeping an eye on USDGC.”
“It comes down to a strong mental game too. When I’m throwing as well as I am, confidence is high. I don’t hide it. I know when I’m going to play good or bad and I really feel like I’m going to play well this week.”
Give us a prediction or the weekend.
“I play well in the GMC to get super close to making the semifinals. I feel like I’m going to have a chance to win the entire Tour. It will come down to the last few holes and I’ll be right there. It’s one thing to say I’m playing great, but with so many great players, anything can happen with just one round.”
During our conversation with Ulibarri we could easily hear the confidence in his voice. You can tell how focused he is and how determined he is to make those semifinals to take one extra round out of the picture. There is a quick turnaround between the end of the Green Mountain Championships and the start of the Tour Championships and the condition of Ulibarri’s finger will certainly play a factor.
We can’t wait to see how this plays out!