If you looked at everyone’s faces at the conclusion of yesterday’s round at Fiesta Lakes you’d see one thing in common: despair. Although the weather in Mesa was sunny and bright, an unpredictable wind caused players to throw their game plans out the window and fight just to get through the course. The mood of the day was somber and tense, as this almost pitch-and-putt style course put player’s mental games to the test with random spit outs and roll aways.
That’s not to say that hot rounds weren’t present, as Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki both carded 12 down, putting them on today’s lead card. The ladies also saw some action with Madison Walker shooting an unofficial 1001 rated performance, and Paige Pierce moving ahead of the pack with a five stroke lead on second place. Despite these successes, most players were disappointed with their day, and are looking forward to redemption at Vista del Camino.
Not Such A Gimmie Course After All
When you walk up to Fiesta Lakes, it seems like a course that most anyone would excel at. With two holes under 200’ and the bulk of the rest viewed as easy birdies by professional players, one would think that our top pros would completely shred. Yet with some strong and unstable wind, just the opposite happened. Dude ambassador Dustin Keegan commented that his card had a tough time navigating certain holes because of the weather conditions: “We just spent most of our energy trying to figure out what the wind was doing because it was spinning 360, so within a person’s shot it could change completely. Most of that is just mental strength to try to stay inside yourself and not let it affect you, and figure out your best shot possible.”
Aside from uncontrollable weather, the layout of the course fooled players into thinking they wouldn’t have a tough time carding two’s left and right. With it being one of his home courses, Paul Ulibarri felt the pressure yesterday to execute every shot as best as he could. “It’s that type of course where, like I said, one mistake is so huge. The holes are so gettable that if you mess up somebody else is getting it. There’s all kinds of stroke separations; I think everybody’s kind of on edge,” he said. While he put in a solid performance and carded a respectable -7, he still felt like he could have played better.
Tomorrow Is Another Day
For those who didn’t perform as they wished, players got to rest their head last night knowing that tomorrow will bring new opportunities. Struggling in particular on hole 10, Zoe AnDyke had to look deep within herself to maintain composure after carding a 10 on this par 3. “I took a 10 and I turned around and I 2’ed right after it. I had an 8 stroke swing in two holes, and that’s unheard of,” Zoe said.
With Vista del Camino boasting the longest total footage out of the three this tournament, Zoe feels confident about her upcoming performance today: “I do need to put a little extra on tomorrow, I gotta dig deeper because I need to lick my wounds from what happened today. I also need to play smart and even maybe more conservative at some points, and then I need to look at the points where I could go ahead and be a little bit gutsy.”
It seems that many of the players look forward to their rounds at Fountain Hills and Vista del Camino far more than the one at Fiesta Lakes, so much so that they wish the format would be changed. Ulibarri shared with us his thoughts on the matter: “My opinion has always been that the pros here should always just play three to four rounds at Vista. I think that’s more [of] a gallery friendly [course] and kind of more of a professional course for the top players in the game.”
Keegan also echoed Paul’s sentiments about Vista saying, “I kinda wish we played twice at Vista. This course is not quite up to NT caliber in my opinion with 4 holes under 200 feet.” He went on to suggest that in future years, it might serve players better to scale back the amount of courses played during The Memorial Championship: “It’s hard to learn 3 courses. I feel sorry for the people [where] this is their first time and they’re coming from Vegas; they had two days to learn 3 courses and it rained both of those days! It wasn’t really that forgiving for them.”
Ending on a positive note, we love how Zoe described her mindset for today’s round: “I have control over my confidence.” Today’s forecast brings the hottest weather of the tournament so far, and hopefully we’ll see some hot rounds this moving day.
Written by Courtney Elder