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2018 San Francisco Open: A Classic in the Making

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State is generally considered the birthplace of modern disc golf. Ed Headrick, Dave Dunipace, Innova, Discraft, Oak Grove– these will be more than
just familiar names to any California native who loves the sport. Since the 70’s and 80’s, disc golf has outgrown its California roots and spread worldwide. California has remained a popular destination for disc golf, especially in the past few years as the sport has grown to its biggest following. Iconic courses like La Mirada Park, Oak Grove, Delaveaga, and Golden Gate Park are about to receive a new addition to their ranks: Gleneagles DGC.
Hot off the heels of the 2018 Masters Cup just down the coast in Santa Cruz, the Disc Golf Pro Tour is making its 4th stop of the 2018 season on the south side of San Francisco. This is the first year for the event, but the location offers the perfect setup for an instant classic. Innova Champion Discs is the presenting sponsor for this stop on the Pro Tour as Gleneagles Golf Course at McLaren Park will serve as the locational host. Gleneagles can be summed up in one word: long. Tournament Director Sean Jack played key roles in establishing this course, one of which was co-designing with Leonard Muise. The 18-hole course is built alongside the golf course and measures in at 9,998 ft. and par-62 for the MPO field. The FPO field will play an adjusted par-66 version at 9,044 ft. In addition to helping with the design of the course, Jack sponsored an IndieGoGo campaign that saw its $10,000 goal reached within a few hours, thanks to numerous large contributions that were rewarded with $500 greens fees vouchers, VIP early access, and other perks. When the fundraiser ended, the original goal had nearly doubled, and the course went in the ground in 2017.
The course is formidable and complements the Golden Gate Park course located just up the 101 freeway rather well. Unlike Golden Gate Park, Gleneagles is generally wide open and well-suited to power players. Because the course is not as well-protected by mature trees, the wind is a major factor in navigating this behemoth layout. The stiff ocean breeze is almost constant and will require all players to shape their shots accordingly.  Forecasts are calling for low to mid-60’s, sustained winds in the range of 15-25 mph, and mostly sunshine. Headed into moving day, there is a chance for rain Friday night. This time around on the Pro Tour, players need not worry about a surprise snowstorm as was seen at Jonesboro. However, a healthy overnight soaking could change some game plans come round two of the event.

Hole 2 at Gleneagles Golf Course measures in at 378 ft. and features some tricky OB and a raised basket. Photo: Disc Golf Course Review
Course previews are located on the Throw SFO Facebook page and Instagram. At the end of April, Gleneagles hosted its first tournament that truly displayed the course’s level of difficulty. Scores were generally above par, save the few MPO players that managed to finish even. Only the winner, Lewis Bitney, finished under par at -4, a 1037-rated round. With that level of scoring separation and course difficulty, TD and co-designer Sean Jack expects any round at par or better to be 1000-rated and above. In the expected windy conditions with a lengthy layout, power throwers who possess the right level of accuracy will be rewarded. Expect spin putters to win the day as well, as keeping enough rotation on the disc will be key to conquering the blustery fairways and greens. A select few holes on the course, namely 6, 12, and 14, require more touch and technical shots as they feature tight wooded fairways and guarded greens. Besides those exceptions, the fairways are fair and wide, which will offer more “grip n’ rip” shots, but also play to the advantage of those who have a competitive roller.

The last Pro Tour stop at the Jonesboro Open saw Ricky Wysocki and Paige Pierce atop the podium. For two-time World Champion Wysocki, it was his first win in what was a slower start to 2018 than he would have preferred. Despite strong showings at other PDGA National Tour events, only his second win of the season came last weekend at Delaveaga Golf Course at the Masters Cup. The win came amid a tumultuous final round, trading the lead with Josh Anthon more than once. Additionally, he suffered a double penalty on hole 15 after his drive landed in a hazard bunker and a foot fault was called and seconded. The margin narrowed to just two strokes as he took the win on the final hole. To borrow one of his favorite words, it very well may be the momentum he needs as the summer approaches. A hungry Paul McBeth is on the chase, searching eagerly for all the championship points he can find, not to mention vying for a 5th world title. Also in the running are Discmania’s Eagle McMahon and Simon Lizotte. Colorado native McMahon has his first two NT wins accounted for in the 2018 season, and Lizotte won the Memorial in his usual fashion by throwing perfect hyzers and hitting lines no one thought possible. Small errors from Wysocki, like those in the final round at Delaveaga, are all they need to take the advantage if he stumbles again this weekend. This weekend’s event will be a tale of many talents as the top MPO competitors take to the course nestled in the corner of John McLaren Park.
Live MPO feature card coverage starts at 2 pm Pacific and 5 pm Eastern. Teeing off will be Wysocki, Eagle McMahon, Patrick Brown, and fan vote winner Eric Oakley. Jomez Productions and Central Coast Disc Golf will be filming two separate feature cards for YouTube post-production content.
LASER FOCUS: Can Ricky Wysocki regain his consistency and further open up his lead over the rest, or will other contenders discover the winning formula this weekend?
Four-time women’s World Champion Paige Pierce was recently recognized as the highest-rated FPO player of all time. Her win at the Jonesboro Open placed her as a cut above the rest, and her undefeated streak in 2018 further proves that she is a true phenom in the sport. The impressive -10 finish at Jonesboro placed her ten strokes clear of Madison Walker and Jennifer Allen, who finished even and tied for second. Pierce is dialed in and has found a pace that works. Not to be forgotten are the likes of Catrina Allen and Sarah Hokom. Catrina is in search of her first tour win of 2018, and as one of the bigger arms in the women’s field, she will be attacking every shot this weekend. Sarah Hokom is one of the best when it comes to shaping technical shots, so look for her to shine in the tighter sections of the course.
The FPO feature card will tee off at 1 pm Pacific and 4 pm Eastern. Coverage is live and live scoring will be available through UDisc Live for MPO and FPO. A Pro Tour first this weekend, all FPO cards will be filmed . Be watching for our full FPO preview article to be released tomorrow !
KEEPING IN STRIDE: Paige Pierce will be hard at work this weekend to maintain her undefeated streak. Tune in for live FPO coverage to see the action unfold at SFO 2018.
Starting today, the 2018 SFO activities get underway with Doubles at Golden Gate Park. Visit throwsfo.com/schedule for more information about all this week’s fun on and off the course!
Article written by Evan Clay, a new writer for the Disc Golf Pro Tour. Please take a moment to welcome Evan to the team. We look forward to having Evan write many more quality articles for us in the future!