The highly anticipated first PDGA Major on the Southern Hemisphere and the official kick-off of the 2015 Disc Golf season is in the books. The 2015 Aussie Open was an event of great camaraderie, frisbee spirit and top notch Disc Golf. The laid-back Aussie atmosphere and the world class Mundaring DiscGolfPark course provided a worthy setting for the best athletes in the sport to compete for the first Major title of the year.
Like many followers of the top PDGA events know, some rough weather conditions seem to be a very common occurrence when ever the top players gather together to compete for PDGA Major titles and National Tour leg victories. The Aussie Open was no exception to this rule, as extremely heavy rain and thunderstorm caused the play to be halted less than 2 hours in to the first tournament round. While the rain makes things more challenging during a round of Disc Golf, at Aussie Open, the biggest challenge for the players was the extreme heat, typical for January in Western Australia. The best tips for playing in the heat can be found from the following SpinTV video, with top golfers explaining how they prepare for those hot rounds under the scorching sun.
McBeast & Lizotte race for victory
Team Discmania's Simon Lizotte had a phenomenal season last year, with 13 Top 5 finishes on a total of 20 PDGA sanctioned events. Last year was also somewhat of an "international rookie season" for Simon, who spent the best part of the year practising and playing tournaments away from his home in Bremen, Germany. Despite Simon's great stretch of top finishes in high caliber tournaments last year, his performance in all 4 PDGA Majors of 2014 had still left some room for improvement.
The long fairways of the Mundaring DiscGolfPark seemed to promise a slight advantage for Simon, who's known for his huge bombs and occasional unorthodox lines of play. Simon's first round however left him a bit too far behind from the top than comfortable, forcing him to start the 2nd round in the chase card, 6 strokes behind the leader at the time, Nate Doss. Simon's mental preparation for the 2nd round seemed to work wonders as he carded a bogey free twelve under par 53 for the 2nd day of the event. This was also a new course record that was tied by none other than the 3-time World Champion Paul McBeth just some minutes after Simon returned his scorecard. After day two McBeth had sneaked to the lead with -20 and Simon's great 2nd round elevated him tied to the 2nd place with Ricky Wysocki at -15.
More course records on the 3rd round
The moving day is traditionally known for a lot of movement up and down the scoreboard. At the Aussie Open however, that movement wasn't as visible as in most other events, as Simon & Paul really stepped on the pedal for the 3rd round sharing lights out -13 rounds and improving their course records from the day before by one more shot. The lead card for the final round was completed by Ricky Wysocki and Dave Feldberg, who both had already fallen several strokes back from both McBeth at -33 and Simon at -28. Lizotte's and McBeth's -13 rounds earned a preliminary rating of 1084, which was nothing short of spectacular, considering the gusty winds that swept through the course on Saturday.
Heading to the final round with a comfortable 5-stroke lead, McBeth kept his head cool and his discs away from danger to finish with a six under 59 to claim the title of the first PDGA Major in the Southern Hemisphere. Simon followed suit with a five under 60 that ensured his 2nd place in the competition and the highest finish in a PDGA Major event of his career so far. Ricky delivered the hot round of the final day with this ten under 55 and snagged the 3rd place trophy before Doss (4th) & Feldberg (5th). Discmania's own Juho "McBeach" Rantalaiho took the 6th place and secured a spot at the USDGC in October. Discmania CEO Jussi Meresmaa unfortunately had to pull out of the tournament after the first 2 rounds to take care of his father Timo who needed medical attention after battling through 2 rounds of Disc Golf in the overpowering Aussie heat. We're happy to report that Timo is okay again and #TeamJussi will be back to battle #TeamSimon in the next suitable event :)
The ladies division was won by none other than Valarie Jenkins, who averaged at 980 for the whole tournament in preliminary ratings. The Masters division title went to New Zealand's own Simon Feasey, who left the rest of the field 11 strokes behind. Finnish Rami Roppo won the advanced amateur division a stroke before his countryman Tommi Tohni and the Advanced Ladies division victory went to Perth local Arana Kenyon.
Pictures, stories and more
The PDGA's events manager Michael Downes was on site to file daily reports from the Aussie Open. Here's the link to the articles at PDGA.com. Some nice high quality photos can also be found at the PDGAMedia flickr account. More official photos can be found at the event's Facebook page and Instagram account. Full results & preliminary ratings can be found here. The SpinTV's final round play-by-play videos are expected to surface this week so make sure to keep your eyes peeled!
The 2015 Aussie Open helped Disc Golf to strengthen its foothold in Australia and the tournament staff did a great job getting spectators on site and articles published on Aussie newspapers. Disc Golf in Australia seems to have a bright future and we at Discmania are proud to support not only this event, but Aussie Disc Golf in general to generate growth for this fine sport down under. Thanks for following the event stay tuned for more from the world of Discmania!
UPDATE: The SpinTV's front 9 video from the final round is out:
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