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The Longest Day

By Baker Helton
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The work started before sunrise. Equipment, tents and signs needed replacing and repositioning by staff members. Cameras required new batteries and a final check by their Disc Golf Network operators. Volunteers took long walks to their stations.

It was a long day for the players. It was longer for the people that make a DGPT event happen.

All but seven  MPO groups had to complete round one in the TruBank Des Moines Challenge presented by Discraft, beginning precisely where they paused their rounds due to weather on Friday afternoon. The horn, signifying the restart, sounded at 7:00 a.m.

Seven MPO groups had yet to begin. As soon as these foursomes cycled through the first tee, the FPO division began their second round.

Finally, all MPO groups – without being reshuffled by position as usual, to save time – would race the sunset to try to get all of round two complete before darkness.

Therefore, some on-course volunteers and staff would see more than 60 groups play through in a single day.

Special thanks to them – and, of course, the players – for putting on the show.

FPO: The Plot Thickens

Kristin Tattar’s 1032-rated opening round of 9-under-par placed her six strokes clear of the field when day two began. But, conditions on “moving day” proved far more volatile. A gusting, swirling wind streamed across Pickard Park, increasing the challenge and decreasing overall scoring. In fact, the best round of the day would be a 3-under effort – by Eveliina Salonen.

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Eveliina Salonen tees off at Pickard Park.

Salonen led the field in strokes gained tee-to-green, and closed to within three of Tattar, before Salonen’s bogey at the 18th hole. Still, the race will be tighter going into the final round.

Macie Velediaz jumped up to the lead card along with a steady Paige Pierce. With Sunday’s calm forecast, scoring should come early and often.

MPO: Upstarts and Big Names at the Top

For some in the MPO field, “moving day” lived up to its name in a literal way. After playing 6 holes to complete his first round, Kevin Jones found himself in 45th position. Then, while many struggled through Saturday’s windy conditions, Jones fired an 8-under second round to move up 39 places, where he’ll play from the chase card on Sunday.

But the biggest mover of the day was Paul McBeth who rose even further, from 105th to a tie with Kevin Jones and Mason Ford in sixth. For McBeth, 13 birdies followed a bogey on his first hole of round two, vaulting him over 99 fellow competitors. He will also tee off on the second-to-last card in the final round.

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McBeth started Saturday slowly, then roared into contention with a 12-under second round.

At the top, Evan Smith leads the way. A lead-card appearance at the Mid-America Open introduced Smith to many disc golf fans, and Smith will get another opportunity to play from the front in Iowa – this time with the benefit of experience. Smith is 18-under.

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Evan Smith brought his North Carolina game in Iowa.

Simon Lizotte began his day in second place, after completing his first round with a single upshot and a putt at 7:00 a.m. Lizotte returned to the course hours later, and followed up his opening-round 10-under with a 7-under effort in Saturday’s winds. He’s one stroke back.

Joel Freeman and the 2021 U.S. Amateur champion, Robert Burridge, are tied for third at 16-under, and will complete the final round lead card.

Coverage returns to a normal tee-time and broadcast schedule on the final day, with the Disc Golf Network FPO stream going live at 9:30 a.m. CT.