By Jerry Roth
The start of the 2017 Ledgestone Insurance Open presented by Discraft began yesterday for the FPO, women’s division, and the action was spectacular! The first round of any tournament is crucial to set the pace and more importantly lay the groundwork for the rest of the week. Because of all the behind the scenes effort from Nate Heinold, this Disc Golf Pro Tour stop is offering the most lucrative payoff in the history of disc golf. With the competition as high as it’s ever been, the title is anyone’s to claim.
Paige Pierce is having a season that is one for the ages. New to the Dynamic Discs family, Paige has transitioned superbly to her newly adopted plastic and is leaving her mark in the highly competitive FPO division. So far, Paige has played in four DGPT events, finishing with three first places and one third place finish. Her great play has rewarded her with 375 points and the overall lead heading toward the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship in October. After a rocky start with three straight bogeys, Paige returned to her usual solid form and card seven birdies to finish the day with -2 and securing a tie for fourth place with Des Reading.
Catrina Allen doesn’t really know how to lose at the Ledgestone Insurance Open winning four consecutive years in a row. I asked her what her secret recipe for winning this event so many times and she jokingly remarked that, “For years the Ledgestone has always been my little secret honey hole.” The word about the Ledgestone event is definitely out as the FPO division is stacked this year. Catrina still had the undeniable edge as her past play remains the benchmark for all other competitors to reach. Catrina played the first round relatively smart but relatively safe. She never really found herself in too much trouble with a scrambling percentage over 75 %, she had a very clean card but needed land a few more birdies to rise among the leaderboard. With a good round on day two, Catrina could easily find herself right back in the hunt. She finished her round one with an even (0) score and leaving herself in eighth place tied with Sarah Hokom, Jennifer Sawyer , Hannah Leatherman, and Erica Johnson.
If Erica Johnson from Marstons Mill, Massachusetts was intimidated by the stellar field around here, she showed no signs early in round one. Erica birdied her first four holes before finally taking a bogey on hole 9 which slowed her momentum. A few more bogeys late in her round drop her down the leaderboard but the young player unfortunately succumbed to the pressure and finished even (0) and finding herself in 8th place.
Ragna Bygde Lewis
Ragna Bygde Lewis from Sweden played her heart out today hitting 88% of her fairways and putting a phenomenal 93% in circle 1. She has battled her way into third place with a -4 and in the perfect position to gain some ground on the leaders if she can continue her momentum today.
Valarie Jenkins took on the role of a veteran during round one and showed the fresh new competition what it means to play with confidence. Valarie, new to Discraft and still in the process of mastering their molds, threw a breathtakingly clean bogey-free first round. She was 100% in circle 1 putting and 100% in scrambling. It was great to see Valarie in top form and performing well. Val ended her day -7 in second place all by herself.
Jessica Weese has become a force to reckon with on the Disc Golf Pro Tour. With Strong finishes in all three of her DGPT events that she’s played in including a big win at the Utah Open, narrowly defeated veteran Catrina Allen down the stretch. Showing power both from a back hand as well as a forehand, Jessica has the tools to win and is gaining the much needed experience to take down the elite in the game today. She started her first round red-hot as she birdied or eagled 3 out the first 5 holes. On the 420 foot hole 5, she threw a monster drive, attempted and made a putt for eagle.
The most exciting development of the first round was the emergence of the living legend three-time World Champion Des Reading. With more wins in her career than most competitors in the field have combined, Des knows how to get a win. If Des can stay out of trouble, she has the experience to take home a win. She finished her day with a -2 tied for fourth place with Paige Pierce. She is obviously in great company for the start of round 2 today.
Ragne Bygde Lewis is a name that is good to hear again as she spent time away from the game and now she is back on the big scene and throwing down a strong score for the first round. She finished the day with five birdies and only one lone bogey to give her a -4 for the day and safely in third place.
Valarie Jenkins finished her day with a -7 just one off the lead, and more importantly showed disc golf fans why she is a four-time World Champion. Val was first in putting and first in scrambling which translated into a round worth watching. With only one stroke separating her and the leader, todays round will be very exciting.
The day however, belonged to Jessica Weese as she shot the hot round of the day with a -8 and played inspired disc golf carding seven birdies and one eagle to take the lead on day one. Every aspect of her game was working. Will she keep up her momentum on day two?