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Round 2: The Headliner Takes the Stage – Music City Open Round 2 Recap

By Nick Quargnenti
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2023 DGPT – Music City Open Round 2 Recap

Sunday, April 9, 2023 – 08:07

Round 2 of the 2023 Music City Open presented by Lone Star Disc saw some changes at the top of the leaderboard for both the FPO and MPO fields. While the day started with constant rain for the FPO, the MPO saw slightly better conditions and the first double-digit round of the tournament.

Handley Takes the Solo Lead

When Holyn Handley tapped in her final putt of Round 2 at the 2023 Music City Open, she became the only player in the FPO field with a total score under par. Heading into the final round, she’ll have three other players right behind her at even par. In particular, Jennifer Allen was able to fight through the rain to score the hot round of three strokes under par and jump up eight spots for a share of 2ndplace. Despite the difficult conditions, three other players were able to score three-under and the entire FPO field averaged over 2.5 strokes better than Round 1.

Handley herself was able to string together four birdies in a row and go 5-for-6 on holes 11-16. While the rain wasn’t enough to stop Handley from picking up birdies, it was particularly dangerous when causing grip issues. Many of the holes at Mill Ridge Park set up well for a forehand off the tee, but on a rainy day players have to choose to trust their grip or change their gameplan mid-round. At four strokes under par, Handley had a sizable lead on the field before shanking her drive out of bounds early on hole 17.

“It was kind of a grip issue off the tee and then I was kind of soft on the second shot,” Handley said of her first two shots on Hole 17. After taking two OB shots in a row, Handley laid up to take a triple bogey. Hole 17 played as the second most difficult hole on the day, with five other FPO players taking a triple bogey or worse. In fact, every scorecard had at least one bogey, so Round 2 tested players’ ability to recover after a disappointing hole. Even after hitting an early tree off the tee on hole 18, Handley was still able to bounce back and finish with a par.

Coming in with the lead on Championship Sunday, Handley feels confident in her abilities to score and stay on top. “I can birdie every hole out here so I’m going to try to do that,” Handley said about the final round.

Macie Velediaz is one of three players tied for 2nd place just one stroke behind Handley. Velediaz is no stranger to the lead card going into the final round, having taken 3rd place at the 2022 MCO. While most players faced plenty of ups and downs on day two, Velediaz played a consistent game, taking only three bogeys and avoiding taking any OB strokes.

When asked about her plan for the final round, she said, “I try to just make sure to stay clean and give myself chances for birdie, but also not having to scramble and get a bogey.” Sitting just one stroke behind the lead, one more smooth round from Velediaz could be all it takes to secure the win.

With better weather predicted for Championship Sunday and the entire lead card within one stroke of each other, the Music City Open is set up for another unpredictable finish in the 2023 season.

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Dickerson Finds His Groove

A two stroke lead might not seem like much, but so far in the 2023 season, the gap between 1st and 2nd place has never been larger than two strokes going into the final round of an Elite Series Event for the MPO field. Defending 2022 MCO champion Chris Dickerson finished Moving Day at 16 strokes under par with Anthony Barela two strokes back at 14 under par. Dickerson shot the hot round at 10-under and is the first player to shoot a double-digit round in the 2023 MCO. While other players were able to match his 10 birdies, Dickerson was able to avoid taking any bogeys or OB strokes in Round 2.

“I feel really good about it, especially the 100% from Circle 1 today,” Dickerson said of his improvement from his 75% C1X Putting in Round 1, “It feels good to clean it up.” With 100% Scramble Rate, no OBs or bogeys in the tournament, and 100% C1X Putting in Round 2, Dickerson is simply not giving any strokes back to the field.

Even with a tight leaderboard going into the final round, Dickerson is confident that he can execute his gameplan once again. When asked about his mindset for the final round, Dickerson said, “The same that I’ve been doing. Hopefully stay bogey-free, limit the mistakes, and stick to my gameplan.”

Dickerson has proven himself in the position before, but there’s certainly some room for uncertainty. According to StatMando, Dickerson is 4-for-5 in wins when leading by 2+ strokes into the final round on tour, including the 2022 Music City Open.

Tied for 3rd place at 13 strokes under par, Gannon Buhr and Ezra Aderhold will join Dickerson and Barela on the final round lead card. When asked about his goals on Championship Sunday, Buhr said, “Momentum for sure. The goal is always to get in the other players’ heads without actually trying. It’s a product of playing good disc golf.” Having recently won The 2023 Open at Austin from the chase card, Buhr is once again in position to take down an Elite Series win. Buhr scored 10 birdies in Round 2 but was unable to keep his scorecard clean, finishing three strokes behind Dickerson.

After his round, Buhr said, “Definitely today Chris playing good put a lot of pressure on me and I probably wasn’t thinking about it, but that’s how it works for any player out there.”

The 2023 season has seen an incredibly competitive MPO field, so Dickerson’s clean rounds can easily put pressure on other players looking to claw their way up the leaderboard. Going into Championship Sunday, the top 10 players are within five strokes of each other. Whether Dickerson holds onto his lead, or another player gains momentum and charges ahead, we can expect another exciting finish for the Disc Golf Pro Tour in the final round of the 2023 Music City Open.