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Off & Running at The Preserve Championship presented by Prodigy

By Jeff Spring
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The debut of the much-hyped Preserve Championship arrived yesterday, and the field in both the Men’s and Women’s divisions has set a blistering pace. For a quick recap of the yesterday and preview for Saturday, read our divisional recaps below. For more in depth articles previewing the Preserve Championship and recapping Round 1, check out these article from our friends at the PDGA and Ultiworld Disc Golf:

PDGA: HOW TO WATCH | PDGA: ROUND 1 RECAP | ULTIWORLD: PREVIEW

Co-Leader Nikko Locastro

MEN’S ROUND 1 RECAP

Nikko Locastro was the pace setter early for the Men, throwing down a 1075-rated 15-under par round 1. The rest of the afternoon turned to scoreboard watching as the big names in the feature groups came down the back nine. While there were moments of brilliance from Anthony Barela, Eagle McMahon, Gregg Barsby and several others, it was James Conrad who would match Nikko’s hot start and steam into the clubhouse with a equally impressive 15-under par 49 on the par 64 Black Bear Championship Layout at the Preserve.

Conrad’s Step Putt is Deadly from 45 feet and In

Joining Locastro and Conrad on Saturday’s Lead card will be fan-favorite Simon Lizotte, who carded a 13-under par 51, and Calvin Heimburg who tied Lizotte with a 1058-rated, 13-under round as well.  Heimburg is coming off a near epic comeback in the DGPT’s return to action last week at the Dynamic Discs Open. He nearly chased down Paul McBeth from 10 strokes back, a feat anyone would be proud to tell their grand kids.

Can Heimburg carry the momentum from a 2nd place finish at DDO into his second DGPT Victory of the season? A win hear would move him into first place in the DGPT standing. A win here would also be one of the most meaningful victories of Nikko Locastro’s career. After stunning the disc golf world and announcing his arrival back in 2009 at the age of 21, Locastro has had his ups and downs. He’s entering 2020 with a new sponsor and bag of discs (Westside) and seems more committed and focused than ever before.

The Preserve has gotten Rave Reviews from the Pros

The most recent USDGC winner also has compelling motivation, as James Conrad has gotten off to a shaky start in 2020. Traditionally a slow-starter, Conrad finished his 2019 season with the biggest victory of his career in 2019, and would like to put another W notch in his belt earlier this year.

Simon Lizotte played a conservative, yet effective, game on his way to a 13-under on Friday. Part of that is due to an elbow issue he’s been battling. After this event, he plans to take a 3 week break to give the cranky elbow some relief, and is limited to throwing at 80% and will not be throwing forehands. With the issues, he will need to keep putting like he did on Friday to have a chance against a hungry field.

WOMEN’S ROUND 1 RECAP

Paige Pierce is Committed

Paige Pierce is again doing Paige Pierce things. a 1010-rated 10-under has her 2 strokes in front of Missy Gannon. While Pierce has traditionally done well holding leads, Gannon is not to be counted out. Her confidence is sky-high and her game is peaking. An 8-under par round 1 leaves her two off of Pierce’s pace.

Missy Gannon’s X-Step Approach

Not far behind are Kona Panis and Catrina Allen. Cat, a veteran of the lead card, will need to putt well for a chance to win. Her game off the tee has been consistent, but she’s been bleeding strokes inside the circle, and at time, inside 20 feet. If she can deliver a C1x percentage of 90% or higher, expect her to challenge for the victory.

While Cat is in a familiar position, Kona Panis is making noise with her improved game early in this season. After finding herself on lead card at the DDO, she faltered, taking a 10 on hole 9 at the Emporia Country Club. This time around, she’s determined to write a different narrative and stay on lead card going into the final round.

How will Round 2 play out? Join the DGPT live on the Disc Golf Network (www.disgolfnetwork.com) to find out. Round 2’s broadcast kicks of at 1:35 Central.