Alternate Shot-Doubles-Skins in the dark with the sprinklers on at a ball golf course is a crazy way to end a tournament, but if you’re Steve Rico…you gotta love it. And the extra $400 to split with your partner helps. Rico had earlier made up a three-shot deficit in the second round, firing a 1050-rated, 10-under par 54 on the 10,811 foot Goat Hill layout to take the $410 1st prize in the Men’s Open division of The Challenge @ Goat Hill in Oceanside, California. You might say he had a good afternoon.
This was the second year that Bellows Golf Management, who runs Goat Hill for the City of Oceanside, hosted The Challenge – a PDGA C-tier tournament. 108 players converged on the course, playing two rounds of cart-enhanced disc golf under sunny skies and a persistent wind. Innova Disc Golf supplied great player-pack schwag while Disc Golf Values supplied beautiful Metal Flake and Blizzard tournament discs. In the Men’s Open division, local San Diegan Micah Dorius and Huntington Beach’s Jeff Spohr jumped out to an early lead with matching 6-under 57’s. Trey McKelvey was two shots back with a 59, with Rico and Philo Braithwaite lurking one stoke further back at 60. But Rico’s 2nd-round 54 was four shots better than anyone else’s score, and eclipsed the field. Brothers Max and Alex Nichols of nearby Ramona, CA rounded out the list of cashing pros in MPO.
Kimmy Jones, of Phoeniz, Arizona made the trip west a successful one, by taking first place in the Open Women’s division. She battled with La Mirada’s Indigo Brude for the win, adding two strokes to her first-round one stroke lead and taking home the goat trophy. There was a tight battle in Pro Masters, where good friends Chris Brophy and Dan Duron needed two holes of sudden death before Brophy earned the title. Their final scores of 3-under were only one shot better than former World Champion Steve Wisecup (-2), followed by Las Vegas’ Jeff Jacquart (-1) and L.A.’s Rick Hoffa (E). Steve Killian rode his collection of orange discs to a two-throw win in Pro Grandmasters, besting Marcus Cisneros (+4), Jeff Nichols (+7) and Rob Wilson (+7).
Three of the four amateur divisions contested required sudden-death playoffs to determine the winner. In Men’s Advanced (sponsored by SDSF Pro Shop), A.J. Risley took the lead after the first round, firing a 1010-rated 59 to take a 2-shot lead over Ethan Wellin and Steve Evans, 3 shots over Matt Hutchings, Jeremy Barnes and Patrick Paramore. Wellin’s steady play in round 2, however, allowed him to make up the deficit and force a playoff. Ethan was able to hit his birdie putt on the treacherous peninsula hole (#2) to take the win. In Men’s Intermediate (sponsored by Legacy Discs), Nick Wright won the 1st-place playoff over 1st-round leader Justin Carter, while Ben Walnum won the 3rd-place playoff over Kevin Christie. A playoff was also needed to resolve the winner of the Men’s Recreational Division (sponsored by DGA), where Wes Scheider took the title over David Phillips. Michael Brayton (+4), whose wife had secretly signed him up for the tournament as a gift, rode that high to first place in Advanced Masters (sponsored by the Las Vegas Disc Golf Club), just ahead of Paul Morgavo (+6), Bill Maury-Holmes (+8) and Anthony Bassett (+8).
But the fun wasn’t over. All day long, players and spectators had been buying raffle tickets for a chance to be paired with a pro player to compete in the VooDoo Disc Golf Final 4 Challenge. Four pros were to be paired with four raffle winners (who also received VooDoo golf bags) to play four holes of alternate-shot doubles, with four $100 skins on the line. Micah Dorius and Jeff Spohr got in based on their first-round 57’s, with Rico’s 54 and Max Nichols’ 58 in the second round filling the last two spots. Even though the sun was setting, TD Allen Risley, fearing a riot (good-natured, of course), decided to let the contest go on. The four pros each pulled a raffle ticket: Micah selected Scott Beyma (MM1), Max selected Greg Arimura (MM1), Jeff picked Stephen Brown (MA3) and Steve picked…his Sylmar homie, MPO player Alex Sardelich. What happened next is not completely clear, since it was very dark. But according to the scorekeeper the four teams pushed on all four holes, finishing the last hole (Hole 18) under sprinkler fire. In the end, Rico and Sardelich took the $400 based on their overall low score.
Many thanks to major sponsors Bellows Golf Management, DiscGolfValues.com and Innova Disc Golf, as well as amateur divisional sponsors: SDSF Pro Shop, Legacy Discs, DGA and the Las Vegas Disc Golf Club. Thank you also to Mark, owner of The CheeseSteak Grill, who supplied every player with a free 9” cheesesteak sandwich for lunch or dinner!