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High Winds, High Spirits – 2023 LVC Round 1 Recap

By Nick Quargnenti
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Anthony Barela has a share of the lead after the first round of the 2023 Las Vegas Challenge. Photo: DGPT

Powering through adverse weather, the MPO and FPO fields finished the first round of the 2023 season with strong scores and even stronger mental focus at the DGPT – Las Vegas Challenge presented by Innova.

Round 1 was split between two courses with FPO at the Infinite course and MPO at the Millennium course. Both fields ended with a tight spread on the leaderboard with five strokes separating the top 13 players in the FPO and only two strokes separating the top 12 players in the MPO. With three rounds left to go, this is still anyone’s game.

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Defending LVC champion Catrina Allen has a one-stroke lead after the first of four rounds. Photo: DGPT

Catrina Allen Pulls Ahead

The excitement of a new season was somewhat subdued by the swirling 20mph winds and 40° weather in the morning as the FPO teed off for their first round at the Infinite course. The LVC courses are known for wide open tee shots and tight greens, but gusts of wind pushed drives out of bounds and shots landing in the green often took huge skips and rollaways. The Infinite course averaged 6.04 strokes over par with almost every player going OB at least once.

With the 2022 LVC FPO Champion Catrina Allen finishing at three-under and Rebecca Cox at two-under, they were the only women who walked away from hole 18 under par.

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Rebecca Cox lines up a putt during a cold round in Las Vegas on Thursday. Photo: DGPT

It’s still a tight race with Holly Finley, Henna Blomroos, and Caroline Henderson all ending their rounds at even par. Putting in the wind was particularly difficult, challenging the confidence of even the most skilled putters in the FPO field. When asked about her putting performance, Allen said, “[There were] two putts I really think I should make even in those conditions (…) I was tensed up it was hard to relax and just be smooth.” Allen was still able to achieve 43% Circle 1X Putting and only carded one bogey for the day.

Holly Finley described herself as a “wind warrior,” and occasionally laid up a putt she might run in better conditions. After finishing her round with three birdies and three bogeys, she said, “The three bogeys were the three missed putts, so all the rest of them were either purposeful layups or because of the wind. So really in my heart of hearts I only missed three putts (…) I wouldn’t get down on myself which keeps it light-hearted and more fun especially in these conditions.”

The FPO field are headed to the Innova course to battle against their competitors and the Nevada weather.

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Scott Withers is tied for the lead with Anthony Barela and James Proctor after one round in Las Vegas. Photo: DGPT

MPO Back in Action

“It feels like the first day of school again, just good vibes all around (…) this is the first one so all the energy all the focus is right there,” said Luke Humphries after scoring seven-under at the Millennium course. Humphries, who took a 4th place finish at this event last year, is currently tied for fourth with Kevin Jones and Simon Lizotte.

The MPO field hit the ground running with solid scores and a three person tie at eight under for James Proctor, Scott Withers, and Anthony Barela.

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James Proctor taps in a putt on the Millennium course on Thursday. Photo: DGPT

Despite the first-round excitement, most players experienced plenty of ups and downs, with only Greg Barsby and Paul McBeth avoiding taking any bogeys. Overall, the Millennium course averaged only 0.27 strokes under par. Hole 9 in particular didn’t see a single birdie on the day.

“It’s the first round of the year so a little bit of inconsistency is to be expected,” said Lizotte, who shanked his drive on hole 12 but managed to save the par by throwing a spike hyzer out of the course and over a house.

The weather has been a huge source of inconsistency for the MPO field but the start of the season is keeping spirits high.

Barela described his game plan as “Not trying to be too aggressive” and “Just keep confident and stay present for every single shot.”

The MPO field will also head to the Innova course for the second round of the 2023 Las Vegas Challenge.

Live coverage begins at 9 a.m. PT on the Disc Golf Network.

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