Home course: Boyd Hill in South Carolina
Favorite course: Järva Discgolf Park
Favorite tournament: Green Mountain Championship
Favorite disc to throw: Discraft Raptor
Favorite type of shot to throw: Dead straight
The highest pressure moment I’ve ever felt at a tournament: Playing on the Presidents Cup team
Best friend in disc golf: Jeremy Koling
Favorite activity outside of disc golf: Golf
Favorite TV show: Criminal Minds
It was the morning of July 29, 2006. The hot, midsummer sun was just beginning to rise in Tulsa, Oklahoma, setting the scene for a pressure-filled Final 9 at the PDGA Amateur Disc Golf World Championships.
A young, up-and-comer from Arizona named Paul Ulibarri sat in third place, four strokes out of first. He had always had aspirations of professional athletics and after finding disc golf, he locked into that passion.
“I fell in love with it after my first shot,” he said. “After about six months of playing I knew I wanted it to be my career. I played a lot of other sports like golf, billiards and skating at a pretty high level. I knew I’d find a way to compete in something as a career.”
Riding that confidence and belief in achieving his goals, Ulibarri stormed back, methodically chipping away at his 4-stroke deficit over the course of the 9-hole final round. Slowly he whittled the gap down from four, to three, to two, to one.
“I knew I still had a chance,” he said. “I used to play a game at home with the locals where I’d try the hardest lines and the hardest shots, just so I could fall behind, and then when I was down a few I would try and come back and beat them. This made me comfortable with being behind.”
It came down to hole 18 where Ulibarri needed to make an 18-foot putt to force a sudden death playoff with leader Brent Koontz.
He confidently stepped up and knocked it down.
After three playoff holes, Ulibarri was finally able to best Koontz to claim the 2006 Amateur World title.
“It was my first amateur win, and that catapulted me in the perfect direction to have the career I have,” he said. “I don’t think any win will top that one, just because of the significance of it.”
“Uli”, as he is affectionately called by the disc golf community, has enjoyed almost two decades of success on tour, traveling the country and the world playing disc golf and helping grow the game.
His leadership and influence was recognized by Discraft in 2019 when they awarded him a place on their Elite Team and named him team captain. Since then he has flourished as a spokesman for the Bushnell EDGE Rangefinder and as a stalwart commentator and personality on YouTube.
Ulibarri is also a proud member of Team Ledgestone. Uli-themed discs, apparel and merchandise can be found at Shop Ledgestone.
Blog by Jacob Arvidson