Though he didn’t shoot a perfect -18 at Lake Eureka like the Ledgestone Open, Paul McBeth was nothing less than superb all through the PDGA World Championships. McBeth took home the title by one stroke, finishing in the top three on 4 of 5 days and bringing in the hot round on Day 2 at Northwood Gold. Ricky Wysocki was the runner up by just one stroke, making a late run at the lead after a rocky start on Day 1 that saw him go without a par on the front nine. McBeth was able to build a substantial enough lead on days 1 and 2 to weather the late Wysocki storm, playing a spectacular five rounds of golf and showing that, for the fifth time, McBeast is the man to beat.
Round 1 – Lake Eureka – Par 63
Hot Round – Emerson Keith: 51 (-12)
Longest Throw in – Kevin Jones: 384ft (Hole14)
Emerson Keith (PDGA# 47472) came out of Worlds’ opening day with the hot round at Lake Eureka. Keith came out slamming fairways from the get-go, bombing over the water hazard on hole 1 into the center of the fairway and never looking back. The only hiccup in Keith’s day came from a bogey on hole 5, but when you can’t miss a putt from inside C1, that’s the kind of thing that gets forgotten. In fact, the only putt Keith could consider forgetting was a C2 that didn’t go, making for the only blemish on otherwise flawless day from the greens.
Kevin Jones wasn’t to be left too far behind, taking second by only a single stroke, leaving James Conrad (PDGA# 17295) and 4x World Champion Paul McBeth (PDGA# 27253) in a deadlock at third. Jones played a bogey free round highlighted by a humungous 384ft throw-in on hole 14. He put his driver out on hyzer over the OB water and smashed chains dead-center for a thing of beauty. Conrad’s throw-in of the day was only 80 ft, but when you rip with that much power from the jump, long throw-ins are tough to find. McBeth drove OB on hole 2, a backhand roller that wanted to circle back onto the fairway but just didn’t quite make it. It didn’t stop McBeth from getting up and down to save par, despite a close call on his upshot that looked to be OB again, but was in fact safe, proving that you can’t be great without a touch of good fortune.
Round 2 – Northwood Gold – Par 64
Hot Round – Paul McBeth: 53 (-11)
Longest Throw in – Robbie Olson: 309ft (Hole4)
The first round taking place at Northwood Gold proved a somewhat tougher challenge for the field at large with the exceptions of strong rounds from Paul McBeth and Round 1 leader Emerson Keith. McBeth maintained composure coming into the round tied for third, attacking off the tee and showing the laser-beam putts that set him apart, hitting every basket he saw from within C1. McBeth’s only bogey came after a missed C2 putt on hole 12’s par 5, but considering how Northwood took advantage of the field, there’s nothing to gripe about there.
Keith kept his great play going from Day 1, his drives every bit as accurate on a day that and course that saw the field struggle with precision off the tee. Keith avoided the OBs that seemed to be everywhere on the course and came away with only one bogey and 11 birdies to complete his second strongest round of the tournament. Anthony Barela (PDGA# 44382) jumped into the top four for the round with a mental fortitude that allowed him to fight up and down in completing 6 of 8 scrambles and setting himself apart from the field with phenomenal saves. Chris Dickerson (PDGA# 62467) proved that scrambling is as good as striding if you’re sinking from C2, rocking a stunning 91% scramble rate and sinking all three of his C2 putts. That kind of play combined with 72-foot throw-in on hole 6 show why Dickerson has the ability to be a special player.
Round 3 –Lake Eureka – Par 63
Hot Round – Eagle McMahon: 49 (-14)
Longest Throw in – Tyler Hickman: 320ft (Hole16)
Worlds’ second round at Lake Eureka found the field in full stride, the tournament’s third day showing that nerves were settled and arms were loose. Eagle McMahon (PDGA# 37817) fans found something to cheer for as the young star bounced back from a tough outing at Northwood that saw him shoot an uncharacteristic 67 (+3) to bring in Day 3’s hot round at 49. Eagle took the field down in true Eagle fashion: smashing drives into C1. Eagle put a full third of his drives into C1, proving that while long throw-ins are pretty, golf is a lot easier with short putts.
McBeth did what McBeth does, yet again, driving, approaching, and putting his way to a third straight top-four finish. This time he did it with a double bogey on hole 5, but, yet again, his championship mindset prevailed and he came out ahead of the pack, taking the overall lead from Emerson Keith for the first time in the tournament.
Simon Lizotte (PDGA# 8332) also returned to form after an unspectacular round at Northwood on Day 2, shooting an excellent 52 (-11) on Day 3. Consistent play marked Lizotte’s round as well as a great day sinking long putts that showed fans a gorgeous 45-footer, Lizotte grabbing the chains and holding on all day long. A four-way tie for fourth brought Ricky Wysocki (PDGA# 38008) back into contention, along with Kevin Jones (PDGA# 41760), Chris Dickerson, and Eric Oakley (PDGA# 53565). Wysocki had a tough start to the tournament the first round at Lake Eureka, not finding par on the entire front on Day 1, but still managing a 57 (-6). Wysocki bounced back by getting 12 of 18 birdies and reminding fans that no matter what the scenario, the 2x World Champ can never be counted out. Kevin Jones shot one stroke worse than his previous round at Lake Eureka on Day 1, but it’s understandable that you’re not going to drill 400-footers every round. Chris Dickerson kept up the hot play he established on Day 2 and kept finding chains to save holes. Eric Oakley shot his best round of the tournament, proving the old adage “drive for show, putt for dough,” to be a true one.
Round 4 – Northwood Gold – Par 64
Hot Round – Ricky Wysocki: 53 (-11)
Longest Throw in – Juhani Vainio: 301ft (Hole13)
Ricky Wysocki showed up huge at his second round at Northwood Gold to put himself in place to make a run for the tournament win on Day 4. Wysocki’s champion spirit took over in this round. He played bogey-free on the day, not something many can say for the layout set at Northwood, but even more impressive was the tactical, aggressive play he showed. Wysocki pulled exactly no punches in this one, ripping onto the fairway or into the circle on a whopping 85% of his drives, never failing to scramble at 5-for-5, and draining every single C1 putt that looked his way. If there was ever any doubt as to how badly Wysocki wants to win, put those thoughts to bed. The man can flat out play when the stakes are at their highest.
Anthony Barela (PDGA# 44382) again took advantage of Northwood Park, securing another top-four finish despite struggling at Lake Eureka. The interesting fact of Barela’s round were his placement shots, which led to 7 scrambles, even if that didn’t slow him down as he put 6 away to avoid all but one bogey on the day. What can be said for the score of 58 (-6) on Day 4 that hasn’t already been said about quintuplets? Coming in at a five-way tie for third place on the day were Emerson Keith, Chris Dickerson, Garrett Gurthie (PDGA# 13864), Matthew Orum (PDGA# 18330), and Silver Lätt (PDGA# 61186). Keith was continuing his beautiful play early in the day, and then through the middle of the day, but had a hiccup on hole 16 where he took a double-bogey, followed by a single bogey on 17. He did birdy 18 to come out of the round, but you have to wonder what might have been without those three additional strokes. Chris “Scrambled not Sunny” Dickerson kept getting up and down from C2, hitting 3 out of 4 from 10m+. When you’ve been that good from distance, who needs to park anything? Gurthie, Orum, and Lätt all secured their only top four finishes of the tournament, all previously on the bubble and finally bursting through.
Round 5 – Lake Eureka – Par 63
Hot Round – Ricky Wysocki: 53 (-11)
Longest Throw in – Christopher Meyer: 205ft (Hole1)
Wysocki came out and shot another beauty at the 5th and final round of Worlds. Coming into Day 5, Wysocki trailed tournament leader, Paul McBeth, by 6 strokes and seemed absolutely determined to take the title. Wysocki was forced to scramble just twice in the round and you couldn’t have paid him to miss a put in C1. McBeth came out just as strong as Wysocki, however, collecting birdies on holes 1, 2, and 4. Then, McBeth drove OB and made a double bogey on hole five. That double made a crack in the door and it felt for a time like Wysocki was destined to push through. McBeth, however, would not be thwarted and put his foot on the gas for the back nine, hitting birdies on holes 9 through 15. If you count birds by The 12 Days of Christmas, that’s seven swans a swimming. Added drama came on hole 16 when McBeth uncharacteristically 2 putted within C1, giving a stroke back to Wysocki, who birdied. This left Ricky within three, needing an Eagle on one of McBeth’s final two pars. It wasn’t to be for Wysocki, who can thank his tumultuous start to the tournament for those additional strokes, but holy cow, did he make things interesting up until the very end.