After the last round of the 2016 USDGC was canceled due to complications from Hurricane Matthew, everybody including players, fans, and staff were excited to see the return on the Championship and for it to begin in pleasant weather.
With a high of 81 degrees and light winds, Wednesday’s Round 1 was the kind of weather perfect for a picnic. In fact, one spectator family looked to be doing just that not far from Hole 16’s green.
Video: Paul McBeth gets saved by the OB stake on hole 3 and converts the birdie. Find more videos like this here!
On our fan-voted feature card, consisting of the reigning US Champion Jeremy Koling, Paul McBeth, Eagle McMahon and Paige Pierce, started their round with the 1:10 PM tee time. Koling started his round on the right foot, being the sole player to card a birdie on the first hole by hitting a clutch putt from just inside the circle. After the first 4, "Big Jerm" was already 3 under. On the treacherous Par 5 Hole 5 however, Koling was just a touch short on his 3rd shot, hitting the bank on the side of the green but ending up in the Winthrop Lake. This resulted in his only bogey on the front 9.
All in all, Koling was hitting his lines really well today, keeping his head cool and committing to his game plan. Many spectators on-site and online we're delighted to see the USDGC Veteran Brian Schweberger as Koling's caddy on the course today. Having "Schwebby", who has a whopping total of 219 wins in PDGA sanctioned events under his belt, on the bag for the whole weekend will surely be a great asset for the Charlotte native's game as the tournament progresses.
Paul McBeth on the other hand, a USDGC champion from 2015 himself, was steadily keeping himself on top of the feature card's leaderboard all the way until the last 2 holes. McBeth managed to score the eagle on hole 10, and was 9 under after 13, before carding his first bogey on the 14th after going OB deep. It was the notorious island hole 17 however, that really made the dent on McBeth's scorecard.
Video: Paul McBeth on hole 17. Find more videos like this here!
Paul's game plan for the hole seems to be switched to a sidearm shot for 2017, contrary to the touch putter shots we've seen him throw on the 17th in the past couple of years. Today at least it seemed like doing the switch did not pay off, as McBeth missed the island on his 1st and 2nd, and made the switch to backhand midrange shot on his 3rd attempt, finally landing safe. After making the putt, Paul carded a triple-bogey 6, dropping him from -9 to -6, a score that would remain as his round total for Wednesday.
Koling on the other hand picked up a nice birdie on 17 and ended his round at -9, the hottest score on the field today. Overall Koling said he’s feeling confident, but cautious. “I’m doing my best to avoid being lured into the trap of thinking the course is easy. The course does set up well for my style of play, but I respect the fact that it can jump up and bite me in the behind at any time,” said Koling.
Video: Paige Pierce with a solid birdie on hole 10. Find more videos like this here!
The world’s number one ranked female player, Paige Pierce, struggled today, shooting a disappointing 72 (+6). Pierce became only the fourth female to qualify for the event in USDGC history. She is one of two females in the competition. The only other female competing, Catrina Allen, returned to the USDGC for the second year in a row after earning another Disc Golf World Tour wild card invite. She shot a 69 (+3) and is sitting at a tie for 60th.
Both Pierce and Allen will need to hit it in high gear in order to place high enough to win cash. Only one woman in the USDGC’s history has done so.
Outside the feature card, The 2017 DGWT Points winner Ricky Wysocki also seemed very comfortable out there. Besides bogey slip ups on holes 9 and 18, he was pleased with his 58 (-8) and will join Koling on the lead card on Thursday. “It was pretty on-par to what I wanted to accomplish today,” said Wysocki, who added that if he can manage two more rounds in the 50’s he’ll have a chance to make a run on Saturday. The way Wysocki was playing, he made the par 5 Hole 13 look rather routine. After two safe drives (including 475-foot tee shot) he was on the island green and he walked away with a no fuss birdie, which was exactly the plan.
USDGC newcomer Kevin Jones of Arkansas made a big splash in his first USDGC appearance, shooting a 58 (-8) and is currently tied for second with Ricky Wysocki. Jones, who came in second at the US Distance Competition on Tuesday, had three eagles during Round 1 including Hole 13. A.J. Risley and Nathan Sexton are also in the hunt as they both shot 59 (-7). Risley only had one bogey, while Sexton incurred two.
Video: Paul McBeth hits the EAGLE on hole 10. Find more videos like this here!
During the 1st round, our social media team was following mostly the feature card. As a result, you can find a lot of photo updates, as well as hole-specific play-by-play videos on our instagram account. Make sure to check them out here!
We also have The SpinTV production crew piecing together play-by-play tournament coverage videos from the feature card’s round, to be released sometime in the coming days. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the tournament preview video by The Spin TV here! You can always find all of our official videos here. Check out also our facebook live recap show from after round 1 below:
If the facebook video player doesn’t appear on your screen, click here to watch!
We also highly recommend checking out the leaderboard and Metrix and course stats from today's round. The new feature we added last year, player- and hole-specific instagram videos on the scoring interface, is in place here at the USDGC too, so make sure to check those out by clicking the tiny camera icons where available.
The USDGC continues on Thursday with Round 2, so make sure to check back often! For ticket information visit usdgc.com