Coming off a rather lackluster performance in Las Vegas last week, yesterday’s opening round at The Memorial brought the fire we’re used to seeing from disc golf’s top players. With a feature card showcasing Eagle McMahon, Ricky Wysocki, Paul McBeth, and Simon Lizotte, spectators knew they were in for a show.
Yesterday’s gallery was larger than what we usually see on day one at most events, pointing to the popularity and success of this spectacular event. The weather was warm, the breeze was just strong enough to affect disc selection, and the race was on after just 18 holes at Fountain Hills.
Eagle’s performance puts him tied for first after round one. Photo credit: Author-Eyes
The Competition Is Palpable
For many of the pro men, it seemed that the four rounds at The Gentlemen’s Club Challenge were just warm-ups. The first event of the year allows them to work out their off-season kinks and prepares them for the intense pace of the year’s tour. It only took a handful of holes yesterday to feel the mood in the air – everyone wants to win.
The first six holes at Fountain Hills were fairly uneventful, save for a few moments. Lizotte started hole one with a lone bogey, and the disappointment on his face was clear. You could tell he was determined to fix the mistakes he made at GCC, which landed him a 16th place finish. With this laser focus, he went on to birdie eleven of the next fourteen holes. Only on hole 16 did he card another bogey, and after a strong finish of two birdies, he found himself with an impressive round of -11.
Changes With The Wind
Through hole seven, only two bogeys total were carded between the four players. Spectators got to see the steady and impressive golf that these four are known to bring to the table. As the wind picked up, things began to get interesting. Very uncharacteristic for such a talented pro, McBeth found himself getting back to back bogeys before finishing the front nine. Keeping his mental game strong, Paul came back with a vengeance and hit the cage not once but twice during his drives on holes 12 and 14.
It was around this time that we were able to catch up with KJ Nybo, as he had finished his round and at that point was sitting in the top position at -10. Not letting the major climate change get to him, Nybo’s first US round of 2017 was smooth and solid. He finished strong on Wednesday by carding five birdies in a row on the last five holes of the course. His plan for this week? “The wind can change so I’m going to adjust to all that, but mostly I got everything written down. I’m gonna stick to that.” KJ is well-known for plotting out each hole and writing down his plan of attack. So far it’s served him well.
Flashbacks To The Aussie Open
As the men closed in on the final handful of holes, it was clear that Eagle and Ricky were in contention for the top of their card. They almost seemed to be channeling their final round from January’s Aussie Open, as they were seen trading birdies and pars back and forth. The real difference that put Eagle ahead? An absolute park job on hole 18, giving McMahon a strong finish and tying for first along with Lizotte and Nate Sexton.
Today’s top card will feature Dude ambassadors Simon and Eagle, Sexton, as well as Cale Leiviska who secured the fourth spot in the group with a -10.
The weather this week looks to be beautiful and we’re expecting to see some exciting golf here in Arizona!
Written by Courtney Elder