This year marks the 41st outing for the Annual Wintertime Open presented by Supreme Flight. This tournament has become the (unofficial) official start to the season of disc golf for many pros, and the event seems to grow every year. The setting of the Wintertime Open is the Oak Grove disc golf course, believed to have been designed by Ed Headrick PDGA #1 himself. For the first forty years of this event Mark Horn guided the ship as tournament director. This year there was a changing of the guard as John Tompkins, of Supreme Flight, took over the reins. “Mark approached me last year after seeing me run a few PDGA events. He asked if I would be interested in taking over after the 40th and I could not pass up the offer.” John said.
When the fans think of the Wintertime Open, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the relentless way the trees seem to knock down beautiful lines and this year’s event was no exception. I asked John what was the biggest innovation that he introduced and he jokingly mentioned, “No two meter rule.” Although this is only one of many changes to this year’s event, considering how often the trees come into play, this has been a monumental change. I asked John if there is a tradition that he has kept alive and plans to keep going and he remarked that, “When I think of the Wintertime Open, I think of the spider tree (a basket tucked inside a living tree) the basket location for hole 4. It’s just very unique.” The basket, along with its protective limbs, has befuddled many players over the years.
One player that has a long history with the Wintertime Open is none other than Paul McBeth PDGA #27523. To say that Paul has had some success with this event might be an extreme understatement. Paul has won this event 9 times in his career or 10 if you were to include his 2006 win while he was still playing in the Advance division. What’s really astounding is his seven year winning streak from 2011 to 2017. In fact, you would have to go back eleven years all the way to 2008 to find a time when he placed worse than 2nd (that year 4th).
This year the expectation placed upon Paul McBeth was higher than ever as he moved away from his long-time disc manufacturer Innova and into his new partnership with Discraft. The question on the minds of fans before this event was, how well will he adapt to his new plastic? The wind and rain that became front and center during the first round could have spoiled Paul’s debut, but he didn’t let the weather dictate his event. Armed with new plastic, Paul demonstrated that he was already accustomed to the new molds and even displayed an often used forehand approach thanks to the addition of a Discraft Zone to his bag.
The first two rounds saw Austin Hannum PDGA #68835 take the early lead because of strong play and the help of a 1037 first round rating, and a second round of 1054. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to hold off the charging field with some bad breaks late and his final round rating falling to 1015.
One player that charged down the stretch was Paul McBeth. His mediocre first round saw many putts bounce off the targets, leaving the World Champion talking to the baskets far too often during the round. But by the time the second round began, Paul’s game came to life. A lot of his putting woes fell away and he went on to shoot a more Paul-like 1038, and 1065.
The real story in the men’s division for this Wintertime Open was the young phenom Adam Hammes PDGA #57365. Although he shot a decent first round of 57, it wasn’t until he recorded a 54 the second, and unleashed a blistering score of 50 the final round that he showed his prowess. It would have to take a tremendous score down the stretch to hold off a charging McBeth. Adam did just that by tying Paul McBeth with one of the lowest rounds of the tournament, and was able to take down the victory. I asked Adam his opinion of Paul McBeth and he replied, “Paul and I are friends. He sets the best example of a true professional.”
4th place went to Eagle McMahon thanks to a final hot round of 49 (-22 for the event), Austin Hannum and Paul McBeth shared 2nd place (-23 for the event), and Adam Hammes won the event by two strokes (-25 for the event). I wondered what Adam thought were his keys to the victory and he said, “My putting. It felt really good, and I felt very confident with it. I would also say that I had the touch for the wooded holes and the distance for the tough par 4s.”
On the FPO side, the competition was just as impressive. Catrina Allen PDGA #44184 had just come off of an outstanding eleven stroke win at the Maricopa Open and with a game that was better than ever, she seemed poised to add another victory to her season. Catrina came out the gate shooting a 59 the first round and gained an early lead for the event. However, Jessica Weese PDGA #50656 had something to say about the outcome.
Reigning Wintertime Open champion, Jessica Weese shot a respectable 59 the second round to take back the lead. “The course is very sidearm dominant and I have one of the best in the game I believe.” So what was the recipe that kept her out in front to win this tournament? Jessica commented that, “My understable Star Vulcan was my go-to disc for tight tunnel shots, anytime I needed to hit a small gap that was the disc I picked up.”
By the third and final round, Jessica had the victory well in hand carding a 58 to win by four strokes over Catrina Allen. 4th place went to Hannah McBeth (+24 for the event), 3rd place went to Lisa Fajkus (+13 for the event), in 2nd place was Catrina Allen (-3 for the event), and Jessica Weese won the event by 4 strokes (-7 for the event).
Congratulations to the winners of the 41st Annual Wintertime Open presented by Supreme Flight, Adam Hammes and Jessica Weese
Full Tournament Results
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