By Jerry Roth
This year the Ledgestone Insurance Open presented by Discraft, features 162 players in the pro men’s division (MPO) from around the world, but when it’s all said and done there can be only one winner crowned champion for 2017. The pace of the field was relatively slow. Call it nerves or playing conservatively, but the vast majority of players weren’t lighting up the course at the start, but they soon put up some great numbers down the stretch.
Defending Ledgestone Insurance Open champion, Paul McBeth played a nearly flawless tournament in 2016 and his hope is to repeat his winning ways this year, but in order to complete the task, Paul must defeat one of the strongest competitive fields. Paul had a rough start during the beginning of round one actually carding two bogeys and even a double bogey before righting the ship. Because the scores were down across the board, Paul was able to string together four birdies in a row to get right back in the hunt, ending with -6 and finishing in a tie with Michael Johansen , Colin Carter, and Nate Perkins. Can we count Paul McBeth out? Never!
If there are trees around, MJ will mostly likely have a great day. And Michael did indeed have a good showing at the Eureka (Temp) course during his first round. His game wasn’t flashy but he got the job done with great execution, tearing up the course on the back nine with five birdies, eight in total. What shined for MJ had to be his 79% fairway hits that allowed him to sink many putts for birdie. He finished the day -6 under and tied for fifth place with Paul McBeth.
What’s more fun than watching Gregg Barsby as of late? The answer is not much! Although the first half of the round was all over the place, carding birdies, pars, Bogeys, and you guessed it, an ace on hole 5, a monster 476 foot shot, Gregg found a way to get it done. I admit the scoring looked a bit messy on the front nine, but it sure was fun to watch Barsby back in his prime. He finished the day -8 and alone in fourth place. Will he turn it on tomorrow like he did at the European Open? The fans can’t wait to see!
When the two-time World Champion Ricky Wysocki steps up to the tee pad, he is the kind of player that makes you stop whatever you are doing and just watch his drive. Today it looked as if Ricky would have to grind the scores out of the course. He began his day with four pars in a row. That’s great but not exactly Ricky great. It wasn’t until hole 5 that Ricky was ready to play and when he’s ready to play heaven help everyone else. After hole 5, Ricky birdied nine holes in all. His second half of the round was a lesson on decision making and how to dominate a course. When round two begins it will be interesting to see with a few adjustments on his lines the numbers he might put on the board.
Fresh off of his victory at the Brent Hambrick Memorial Open (BHMO) last week, Paul Ulibarri has been flying high and playing outstanding disc golf. His first round at the Eureka (temp) course started off with a blistering pace converting ten birdies for the day and setting the bar really high for the rest of the week. Paul played about as close to flawless golf as a player can hope to in a first round. With a 100% scrambling and 100% circle 1 putting rate; he finished the day -10 and ready to win his second tournament in as many weeks.
The early story today is Josh Anthon and his incredible start. As the competitors among the field were a bit slow to rev up their engines, Josh was as hot as a pistol from the very moment he stepped onto the Eureka (temp) course. There is a solid color of blue on his uDisc scorecard as he dropped in putt after putt to take a dominating edge on the pros around him. All said and done, Josh birdied the first four holes in a row and lit up the scoreboard with amazing shots and even better putts to push his overall score to -12, giving him the hot round of the day. When the dust settled, Josh was the sole leader and in the best position to win the tournament after the first round. Can he keep up the momentum going into the next round?
Top Four Players Round One
The players today may have started somewhat slow but they surely did not finish that way. With Josh’s amazing play and Paul Ulibarri’s smart course management, they might be able to hold off a charging Ricky Wysocki. The feature card for round two will be Josh Anthon (-12), Paul Ulibarri (-10), Ricky Wysocki (-9), and Gregg Barsby (-8). You will have to wait until tomorrow to find out who ends up on top at the Ledgestone Insurance Open presented by Discraft. Live coverage is available on Smashboxxtv Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.