Saturday was the final round of the 2011 PDGA Disc Golf World Championships, and in the end Santa Cruz area locals swept the competition in nearly every bracket.
Nate Doss won the Men's Open Division with a considerable lead at nine strokes better than the closest competition. The race for second place was far closer throughout the tournament's final rounds, with Josh Anthon and Will Schusterick neck and neck through both the semi-final and final rounds. Both players ended in a tie at 51 under par, an incredible matching of talent especially considering the fact that both players have completed more than 150 holes in the course of the week.
Doss cemented his lead early in the Semi-finals, and the real excitement in the final nine holes in the Men's Open Division was the race for second place.
The most exciting round in the whole tournament was without a doubt the final nine holes in the Women's Open Division, in which Paige Pierce, of Texas, and Santa Cruz local Valarie Jenkins who were neck and neck each day of the tournament, went into the final nine holes tied up at 14+ over par. Jenkins had a few rough holes early on in the final nine, going out of bounds on one and missing a putt on another, and found herself three strokes behind Pierce, a gap she narrowed to two strokes by the final hole, but ultimately unable to close entirely. Jenkins will have to settle for second place this year.
As the Women's and Men's Open Divisions played their final round an enormous crowd gathered, unprecedented for a disc golf tournament. When asked how she dealt with the distraction a crowd of such magnitude inevitably creates, Valarie Jenkins said
“Its just something I've had to get used to. My first final nine was in 2005, I think I was in 4th place, and I was so excited, I think too excited, and the crowd was getting to me. From that point I was like alright there are gonna be people watching, I need to get used to this.”
Concentration is a core element of Jenkins game; “ I wish I could have a little microphone on me when I'm putting, I'm talking to myself through the whole thing saying 'reach for it,' 'give it all you got,' you definitely have to have your own little mantra to keep you calm."
First Place in the Men's Master Division was claimed by Jonathon Baldwin, also a Santa Cruz local.
Baldwin has played disc golf since 2000, and has only competed in three previous World Championships, a relativel newcomer to the sport compared to much of his competition.
“The best golfers have the worst memories,” said Baldwin, “ Nothing is more important than the next shot, thats all there is.”
This way of thinking comes easy to Baldwin.
“I was blessed with a clear mind.”
Santa Cruz local J. Michael Barry also won the senior Grandmaster's division, cementing the local domination of the international competition.
The PDGA Disc Golf World Championships have ended for this year, and the champions will have but one short year to rest on their laurels before next year's World Championships which are slated in North Carolina.
For official tournament results see the PDGA website.