The Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs is a tournament that is rising in stature every year. The Brazos East course or the B(East) is a setting that continues to challenge the best disc golfers in the world. Between the tightly wooded holes or the perfectly designed open ones, the course delivers a challenge to nearly every skill level.
For the past two years Jeremy Koling has shown that with his combination of backhand and a proficient forehand, he might have had a slight edge over the field. Whatever edge Jeremy once enjoyed has all but disappeared. The level of disc golf course management, scoring, and (accuracy with distance) has sky rocketed in the last couple seasons.
Paul McBeth has carried-out one of the greatest displays in the history of disc golf this week in Waco, Texas. But, don’t let the 18 under par “perfect” second round distract you from all the facts. The storyline for Paul McBeth, until this year at Waco, was him faltering with a bogey and a double-bogey in 2018 to inevitably finish in 3rd place behind Jeremy Koling and Nate Perkins.
Paul McBeth has done more in the sport of disc golf than nearly any player that has ever thrown a disc, and yet he always seems to be in a position to have to prove himself to the fans. This year it was the transition from the manufacturer Innova to the manufacturer Discraft. The best athlete in any sport is someone who raises the bar which unfortunately undercuts all the great achievements they have accomplished in the past. Paul McBeth deals with the “what have you done lately?” syndrome that nags the top athletes from time to time. When a disc golfer with the ability that Paul possesses doesn’t win every tournament, there is a perception that he has lost something in his game. Is Paul McBeth a victim of his own success?
Let’s cut to the chase! Paul McBeth was the winner of the 2019 Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic discs. The first round he shot a 10 under par, 5 strokes away from the blistering score of Jeremy Koling (-15) and 4 strokes down from his perennial rival Ricky Wysocki (-14). After the first round, the stat that may have predicted how he would finish the Waco event was his (93%) Circle 1X rating. This statistic screamed that the mechanical putting issues that plagued him at the Wintertime Open, The Las Vegas Challenge, and the Memorial had finally been solved. Fans that passively observed his first round score might never have seen the potential of a giant waking.
Last year when Paul shot his “perfect” round at the Great Lakes Open he quieted a lot of critics that questioned his win total and his ability measured amongst the field. Until the Great Lakes Open victory (July), he had only won three A tiers in total for 2018. This year’s 18 under par was more of a continuation or adjustment from last year’s event. Paul’s addition of Discraft’s Zone, a stable putter often used for upshot flicks, has given him a reliable shot in the dreaded woods.
Looking at Paul McBeth’s scorecard for round two, the first thing that attacks your senses is the ocean of blue than he’s painted upon the UDisc canvas.
One can make an argument that Paul has quickly acclimated to his Discraft discs when it comes to his drives off the tee or upshots to the basket. The question mark for 2019 has been his putting game and by the finish of the 2nd round, Paul wiped away all doubt of his prowess with his Luna putter by scoring 9 out of 9 putts from Circle 1X (100%). Although his putting shined, the stat that stood out during round two was his fairway hits of 19 out of 20 reaching (95%).
Even with an 18 under par, Paul found that on the final day he was down 2 strokes to two-time PDGA World Champion, Ricky Wysocki. The final round could arguably go down as one of the most skilled and strategic ever played by two top disc golf competitors. Neither player had a moment when they gave each other an edge.
The fascinated aspect of the final round between Paul and Ricky was that the tournament was more than who carded a bogey, or who made a mental error as the two competitors tied or switch leads throughout the round. If you had to point to one shot that might have cost Ricky the tournament late in the final round it was an upshot on hole 15 that was left slightly short. Ricky missed his birdie attempt while Paul drained his putt. The game of disc golf (chess) was played at the highest level the sport may have ever seen. Ricky didn’t lose! Paul just won!
Aside from Paul McBeth’s “perfect” 2nd round, why could this be one of the greatest performances in an event by the four-time PDGA World Champion? By comparison, Jeremy Koling averaged 1043 rated rounds in 2017 and averaged a 1040 rating to win in 2018. This year Paul averaged more than 32 points higher than Koling with an astounding 1072 rated round (average) for the event.
The prior two years Jeremy won the event with a score of (-34) in 2017 and (-33) in 2018. Paul won this year with a (-43), three strokes better than Ricky Wysocki (-40). By comparison, Jeremy’s 2017 (-34) final score would have given Paul Ulibarri the win as he landed in 5th place with an identical score this year. Is the course getting easier or are the competitors getting better?
Paul McBeth has done much more than taking down a victory at the second stop of the DGPT. He has elevated the level of what it will take to beat him, and reaffirmed that he still remains the best disc golfer in the world today. Fans speak of the “greatest of all time” but those are terms for looking back on careers. Paul McBeth is the greatest right now!
Congratulations Paul McBeth
Winner of the DGPT’s 2019 Waco Annual Open presented by Dynamic Discs