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Battling the Elements

By Charles McCracken
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2022 DGPT – Waco Annual Charity Open – Round 1 Recap

Saturday, March 12, 2022 – 08:49

Eveliina Salonen is on top of the leaderboard after one round in Waco. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

Paul McBeth had a moment where the conditions got to him a little bit on Friday in Waco, Texas.

But he bounced back, because survival on the course and scorecard was the name of the game during the opening round of the Disc Golf Pro Tour – Waco Annual Charity Open.

Battling cold and blustery conditions on the Brazos River, McBeth finished in a three-way tie at the top in the MPO division while in FPO, Eveliina Salonen found herself in the same position she was the last time she battled the Beast: on top.

“There was one point where I kind of broke, and was like, ‘man, I’m tired of this already,’” McBeth said. “But I knew that I had a lot of holes left.

“It’s tiring because it feels like everything is against you. You’ve got the elements against you then you get a bad break and it’s easy to think that everything was going against me. It got to me on that one part, but I was able to snap back into it.”

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McBeth said it was one of the coldest tournament rounds that he’s played in his career. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

McBeth grabbed a birdie on the treacherous 17th to pull to a three-way tie at 8-under with Nicholas Carl and Luke Humphries.

“It’s survival in these conditions,” said Humphries, who is coming off a fourth-place finish at the Las Vegas Challenge two weeks ago. “Not stressing about things you can’t control is how you start. You don’t know what the weather or conditions are going to be. You wake up, and deal with what you’ve got.”

McBeth and Carl were second and third in strokes gained tee-to-green at 5.86 and 5.81, respectively. Joel Freeman, who is in a five-way tie for fifth at 5-under, led off the tee at 7.15, according to UDisc.

Humphries kept it clean off the tee on a day where not a single player in the event carded a bogey-free round at Brazos East Park. Humphries, the 2019 PDGA Rookie of the Year, finished at 90% in C1X in the less-than-stellar conditions. It was more of the same for Andrew Fish, who rounds out the lead card at 6-under par.

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Luke Humphries continued his hot start to the season and is a co-leader in Waco. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

With Saturday’s weather forecast calling for much calmer and warmer conditions, it’ll be moving day in the true sense of the word with 10 players within four strokes of the lead in MPO.

“It’ll be exactly that – moving day,” Humphries said. “I’m just going to try to hang out. Hopefully it won’t be as windy, but I’m going to continue to throw stuff at stuff, pick targets and execute my line.”

Earlier in the day, Salonen, the 2020 WACO champion, was simply happy. Maybe not during the round with the unrelenting wind, but at the end when she finished with a four-stroke lead.

“I am really happy because it was really cold and windy,” Salonen said. “All of our practice rounds were perfect, and it was opposite winds (today).”

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Salonen was strong off the tee, picking up nearly six strokes in tee-to-green over Paige Pierce, who is in solo second place at even par. Salonen parked 33% of the course and was in the fairway 80% of the time, per UDisc.

The hot round came with a bit of an interesting stat: Salonen finished at 0% from C1X, but she was happy with her putting given the conditions and early-season struggles from close range.

“I’ve picked up a little confidence putting, but I was still nervous about those shorter putts,” she told Zoe Andyke of the Disc Golf Network. “But I’m happy – I only missed a couple.”

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Paige Pierce is four strokes back of Salonen heading into moving day. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

Paige Pierce, Ohn Scoggins, the 2021 runner up at Waco, and Valerie Mandujano round out the FPO lead card at plus-one. Seven players are one shot back at plus-two.

Live coverage of moving day begins at 9 a.m. CST on the Disc Golf Network. MPO coverage kicks off at 2:30 p.m. CST on DGN.