For Ricky Wysocki there really is no place like home during the USDGC. The two-time World Champ is one of the few touring pros to reside just up the road from the Winthrop Gold Course in nearby Ft. Mill, S.C.
Granted he doesn’t hang his hat there much (he’s on the road for about 90 percent of the year), but during the USDGC and the precious practice weeks ahead of it, Wysocki gets to stay in a familiar, cozy setting.
“I feel like I’m in my comfort zone when I’m at the course and at home,” said Wysocki, who acknowledges that it’s a nice change of pace from constantly staying somewhere new on tour.
Every year since 2012, Wysocki has returned home two weeks before the USDGC to get an early crack at Winthrop before all of the pros converge upon the course. It’s great, he says, because by the time it’s the eve of the Championship, he’s at home relaxing and not worried about squeezing in one last practice round.
It all adds to his confidence, which he hopes he can translate into his first US Title. Wysocki has been in contention several times at the USDGC, most notably in 2012 and in 2015, but as you might guess, Wysocki isn’t satisfied with just being in contention. The main reason he trains and practices so hard is so that when tournament time rolls around he’s able to capitalize. “You want to take advantage of it,” said Wysocki, 24.
This year, he's already off to a great start. After shooting a 58 (-8) he was tied for second after the first round.
The last couple of years on tour, Wysocki has really stepped it up. He’s emerged from Paul McBeth’s shadow and has proven a dominant force in majors and other big events.
Last year, Wysocki playing his usual steady style, found himself in position for another run at the US Title. At the end of Round 3 he was down only five strokes. However, the USDGC’s final round was canceled due to severe weather and logistical complications from Hurricane Matthew. No final round was a big disappointment to Wysocki, because he felt he was in position to make a big push the next day. He used that, though, to motivate him to play even better this year.
(You can't forget Wysocki's 2016 ace on Hole 17 during Round 3.)
Like past USDGC’s, Wysocki can expect a sizable cheering section from his 10-member family. The USDGC has practically become a regular family outing for the Wysockis. Even his older sister living in Hilton Head, S.C. often makes the trip.
Although Wysocki only spends a few weeks a year at home, family is still important (the Wysockis moved to Ft. Mill in 2011). Many of his siblings live at home, so he likes to make up for lost time when he’s home by taking them for ice cream and doing other fun stuff.
Being at home is also a good time for Wysocki to momentarily put away disc golf. When he finds free time, he likes to play all kinds of other sports like bowling, ping pong, basketball, and traditional golf. It helps to avoid getting burnt out of disc golf so that “Once I get back to disc golf, it feels like I have new fuel for the fire to play well for tournaments,” said Wysocki, whose favorite area restaurant is Midwood Smokehouse in nearby Ballantyne, N.C.
During Pro Worlds this year, Wysocki practically had home field advantage their too because so much of his family (about 10 members), were able to witness it in Augusta, GA. Naturally, there was a little pressure attached to that, but he said having his family there was well worth it, especially after winning his second World Title.
After winning Pro Worlds, it looked like he might have a chance for a Grand Slam, but during the year’s third major, the European Open, he had a rare slip up, placing 7th . His slow start was just too much to overcome. Wysocki agreed that he didn’t play like himself there and attributed that to spreading himself too thin with clinics and other commitments and not training enough. Plus, he should’ve given himself more time to regroup after Worlds, he said. The game is a learning process says Wysocki and he continues to pick things up each year.
With plenty of time to train and rest for the USDGC, Wysocki should be in prime form to get that USDGC monkey off his back. It’s a victory he really wants.
“As a player, it’s just one of the tournaments that you want the title, one that you want to say you’ve won before,” said Wysocki.
And, he’s ready to take on the USDGC, which he calls grinding and challenging because you have to be able to handle whatever Winthrop throws at you: be it wind, rain, and OB lines that have shifted from the year before.
“You have to be ready to adapt your game plan, otherwise with this course, it’s going to eat you alive in a four round event,” said Wysocki.
Wysocki’s got an edge, though, that few other players do: his Ft. Mill home base and his family full of supporters.