2008 USDGC (Part 2) Singles

2008 USDGC – Morning Fog over Winthrop Lake

On Monday morning following the USDGC Doubles event, the Clash DVD crew drove out to Hornets Nest Disc Golf Course to finish the Clash taping that we tried to complete on the previous Friday but couldn’t due to the rainy weather. Billy Crump organized the competitors for this video – Barry Schultz, Eric McCabe, Brian Schweberger, Michael Johansen, Kevin McCoy and myself for the first of its kind – Worst Shot Doubles at Hornets Nest. It was formatted to be random draw for partners, and then both players on each team were to throw and the worst shot would be determined by the other groups. The play continued shot for shot until both players on the team made the putt to complete the hole. Yes, both players have to make the putt which is very difficult especially if your partner is a great putter – and that adds to the pressure.

We all flipped for partners and here’s how that went down: Schultz got teamed up with McCabe, Schweberger paired up with Johansen and I got the pleasure of being matched up with my good friend Kevin McCoy. The teams were solid. No matter how everyone got paired up it was going to be quite the battle on a tougher course for a worst shot formatted doubles. It was going to take some amazing play to beat out the Schweberger/Johansen team, which I considered to be the favorite considering that you could pair up Johansen with just about anyone to be a great team for the fact it was his home course. He knows these holes better then everyone combined. I made jokes about that the entire round.

So the show was about to begin. One thing that came to mind was that I was teamed up with the only player that did not play doubles over the weekend and I was concerned about how well he knew this particular course considering how long it has been since he has played it due to him starting a family and having a child in the last year or so. But rest assured – it’s Kevin McCoy, no matter how long it has been, he can always play well and he makes up for that by being a phenomenal putter.

I don’t want to ruin the story line of the DVD for everyone, but let me say that it was a battle throughout the entire round. It’s unlike any other doubles round because you could not rely on your partner to make great shots; a majority of the pressure was placed on yourself to perform or in many cases not mess up when it matters most. It is a very exciting video that plays with the players throwing skills, shot making abilities and a solid, calm patience to enable the best doubles team to become victorious that day. Look for the release of the video sometime near Christmas, like always I will keep everyone posted.

My parents, Leroy and Sharon, arrived that night into Rock Hill to attend their very first USDGC ever. I was glad that they could make the trip down after all the years that they have heard what a great tournament it was. I took them by the Innova East Factory on Tuesday morning to look through some discs and other rarities that you can get from the factory, including browsing1000’s and 1000’s of discs. I love going to factory when I get the opportunity once a year. We spent nearly 3 hours there. All of us went out to the Winthrop course later that afternoon to get in a Team Jenkins practice, just me and the family, never would have thought. It was great to show them the signature holes and the great landscape on the USDGC course, holes that they have only seen on video up to that point. It was a great practice day at the US Open.

We attended the Tournament Players Meeting that night, where they awarded the Golden Rake to deserving members Bill Jacobson and Lisa McDaniel for all of their hard work and continuous support of the USDGC year in and year out. The Tournament Director Jonathan Poole gave a brief history of the event and recited a very inspirational speech that I took to heart, hanging on every word. This was going to be my year, I could just feel it. They then began to call out the First Round Tee Times with groups starting at 7 am, keeping players on the edge of their seats and crossing their fingers that they get an 11 am or later tee time when the grass is dry and when it is warmer out. I got hooked up with a 9:20 am tee time, early enough to get out there before any kind of wind starts up but late enough where I don’t have to warm up in the morning fog. We all then collected our annual USDGC Players package, where we each received a really nice Huk Lab sweatshirt, a personalized t-shirt and caddie bib and a clear 1st-run Boss all contained in a custom USDGC graphics cooler -some of the nicest players packages that we get all year.

Hole #12 – 2nd shot to the Green

The first round of competitive play started on Wednesday morning. I got out there about 2 hours early to ensure a complete throwing and stretching warm up with enough time to get in a solid half hour of putting. I would rather have too much time on the practice field then not enough. Plus I throw lots of shots to make sure that I am ready for longer shots that I will be throwing during the round when each shot counts for so much. I was feeling good, but not as pumped up as I usually am for the start of the USDGC, not sure why. I approached the tee at the designated time and my Father was there to caddy for me every step of the way.

I came out of the gates on fire carding birdies on 2 of the first 3 holes; this was the start that I was looking for. I came into hole 4 sitting 2 down and looking to finish out the front 9 way under par. But I think that I may have looked too far ahead. I threw a bad sidearm off the tee and had to lay up where I would have a great look at throwing the spike over the trees for a par on the par 4. I threw the spike but I guess that I did not account for the tighter OB surrounding the trees around the green area. The shot hit the top of the trees and rolled back into the OB. No need to worry at that point, I just needed to throw in up there for a putt to walk with a bogie, but instead I decided to throw the shot a bit long to avoid another OB and missed the putt coming back, scoring a 7 on the hole. That quickly moved me from 2 down to 1 over in the matter of one hole, unbelievable. That was the hole that changed my thought process for the entire round and made me realize that this was for real. I cannot take any of these shots for granted. Never.

I played a pretty consistent front 9 carding birdies on the next 4 holes. I had some bad breaks as well as some bad rollaways to score 2 over on the back 9, including 3 bogeys and 2 doubles with 5 out-of-bounds throws to shoot a mind-numbing 67 on the course par 68. I could not believe that at that moment I had just carded a 1 down during one of the largest tournaments in the game at an event I have been waiting for this entire year, with everything short of a miracle I basically just shot myself out of any chance of winning the US Open. I had more OB’s the opening round then I had the entire tournament last year, and it was by far my worst round that I have scored there in years. It was almost too much to take at the time. All that I could do was take out my frustrations on the distance fields for the USDGC Distance qualifier.

I arrived down at the fields feeling absolutely crushed, but still knew that everything that happened out there was my doing and I was the only one that could bring it all back. It was all on me. I showed up at the qualifier a little early to watch some throws and get some great wind reads. The wind was better than most years; it seemed to be mostly tailwind at times. I was the 12th player to throw and that I did – really far. My first 2 throws were decent, but nothing to get me qualified as of yet. The 3rd throw was a smooth turn-around that caught perfectly and flew out the entire length of the field and then some to take the top qualifying spot at the time at approx. 660 feet. Now that’s how you take out some aggression. That made me feel just a little bit better about the day, but not completely. We went back to the hotel to prepare for the round that I had to face the following day.

This was going to be the day where I could change it all, and I kind of had to in the position that I was sitting in the tournament. I was currently in 43rd in the tournament and there was nowhere to go but up, way up. This day of warm-up was a lot more intense; I was throwing better then the day before and I had more motivation. I had something to prove. I had a great 4-some to start the 2nd round and that always means a lot to have good friends on the same card. It keeps me easy-going and less stressedWe approached the starting tee and I was ready to do this the right way.

I birdied the first 3 holes to start the round and thought nothing of it, I was on a mission. I soon approached my nemesis hole from the day before, good old hole #4. I played it really, really safe and walked away with a conservation par, saving 3 strokes from the first round. Off to a great start. I proceeded to shoot a consistent, clean front 9 going 6 down. I now had my work cut out for me as I approached the fierce back 9 that can destroy all those who do not respect it, in short it contains some of the hardest and most difficult holes on the entire course. I threw all of my shots precisely and on the mark to all of the locations I wanted to land off the tee. I then proceeded to make a bunch of solid putts on 10, 11, 12 and 13 to go 4 down with an eagle on 12. I played out the rest and birdied 15 and 16, with a par on the island green of hole 17. I had played the round mistake-free and laid up the tee shot on 17 just to insure an OB-free, bogey-free round. So a par was just fine at the time.

Hole 18 is a difficult birdie but a pretty standard par if you can keep all of your shots in bounds, and that’s exactly what I needed to do, play it safe and finish the round. So I picked the safest shot that I could choose on such a difficult tee-shot, the sidearm plays perfectly into the side hill ideally giving a great look at a comfortable approach shot and hopefully a birdie. Except for this time, the shot flew great off my hand and landed just where I wanted it but the misfortune of disc landing on a side hill caused it to stand and roll down the hill OB. This round was not to be as planned. I marked the stray shot back in bounds and threw the approach 15 feet from the basket to save par. It was everything that I could ask out of a round as I played absolutely perfect going into the last hole to shoot the New Winthrop Gold Course Record at a scorching score of 55. Just what I was looking for, an unbelievable round that went as planned shot for shot, hole for hole. I only made a few mistakes that I could have capitalized on, but I could not ask for much more after the round that I shot the day before. I was not to be outdone, but Nate Doss made claims to the course record as he came into the clubhouse with an amazing 55 as well. Two of the best rounds ever shot on that course during the very same round, I could have never imagined that to happen, it was meant to be. So now that I was back in the hunt to win it all, I felt a little more at ease with my position in the tournament. I moved up 40 spots in just one round and I was now just 6 strokes back of the lead.

Distance Finals Top 5 – Jussi Meresma, Linus Astrom, Garrett Gurthie, myself and Robbie Bratten

It was now time to regain my UDSGC Distance title from 2006 against some of the longest throwers in the game. The top 5 qualifiers that made it to the finals were Jussi Meresma, Robbie Bratten, Garett Gurthie, Linus Astrom and myself. The event was held at this huge outdoor soccer complex the size of 3 fields in the evening under the lights, which made for an epic showdown on this cold autumn night. The first round consisted of five shots each with each player taking their longest recorded throw before moving into the final round of five throws. The longest throw of the 10 throws was to be determined the winner. The first round I had unleashed some great turnaround distance shots but none of the discs that I threw seemed to fly out the way that they did the day before due to the cold temperatures and the slight wind. I led the first round with a mediocre 507. Gurthie threw some great shots in the second round to push us into a throw-off for the tie at 507, Bratten at 592, Astrom at 477 and Meresma at 453. Gurthie and I were both granted 5 more shots to determine the Distance Champion. I have been thinking about this event all year long and this was the time to regain my title. I was throwing some of the biggest, longest shots of the night, so it seemed, but because of the conditions of the night the discs just didn’t seem to fly no matter how hard we threw. There is definitely something to be said about the physics of disc flight when the air temperatures are less than ideal. I could not believe that the longest throw up to that point was only 507 feet after we both qualified with distances of 660+, it was unreal. Gurthie threw a couple great shots during the sudden death finals to edge me out for the second straight year. He is a great distance thrower and he definitely proved that as he claimed his deserving title as this year’s USDGC Distance Champion. I congratulated him and I look forward to many more head to head distance battles in the future.

The 3rd round started on Friday morning; it was my debut to the prestigious lead card with Nate Doss -20, John E. McCray -16, Barry Schultz -14 and myself -14. I came out of the gates scoring a birdie on 4 of the first 5 holes with a lone bogey on 3 after an errant shot that strayed out of bounds. I ended -3 on the front 9 holes, falling another stroke off the lead but gaining strokes on the rest of the card totie for 2nd. I played a conservative, safe back 9 with birdies on 16 and 18 to finish it up to shoot a -5 for the round. I shot a total of -8 to score a 60 for the round to remain in solo 3rd but taking 2 strokes off the lead to remain 4 strokes back. Wait this is confusing. You said you shot -5 but then said you shot -8. Be more clear that you meant -3 on the first nine and -5 on the back nine to finish -8 for the round with a solid 60. It was all going to come down to the last and final round.

Lead Group Final Round – Nate Doss, Ken Climo, Paul McBeth and myself

This was the round that was going to change everything. This was the closest that I have been to a USDGC title going into the final round and I was more than ready to put on a show. The scores for the lead group were Nate Doss -26, Ken Climo -23, Myself -22 and Paul McBeth -21. It was going to be a battle until the end, and everyone on this lead card had a chance to win on a course this fierce where strokes can be given on any one of these holes. Whoever made the least amount of mistakes was going to win it all. It all comes down to this: playing on the lead group in the final round of the USDGC, with every shot counting for everything. I came out on fire parking Hole 1 and then proceeded to birdie 5 of the first 7 holes with a lone bogey on hole 5 due to an errant tee shot that forced me to play out the rest of the hole safe to avoid going out of bounds. I ended up shooting -5 on the front 9, going on to hole 10 still remaining 4 strokes behind Doss and pulling into solo 2nd past Climo. It started to heat up on hole 11 as I threw my approach within 40 feet and waited for Nate as his roller approach into the green barely made it back in bounds. He then proceeded to have his first putt rim out and roll to within in inches of OB. His second putt for par again rimmed out and rolled down the hill and towards OB to stop within inches. I stepped to my 40-footer, knowing how bad I needed it to catch him. I lined it up and cashed it for birdie in front of the giant gallery. Doss then stepped to his pressure putt 28-footer and cashed that for bogey. I moved to within 2 strokes with 7 holes remaining; this was the time and it all came down to these final holes.

I threw a pretty routine drive on the long par 5 hole 12, and lined up a long 430+ approach with a line-drive Excaliber that took a huge skip past the pin and rolled out just outside the circle. Doss then stepped to his approach to throw an amazing hyzer that settled with 15 of the basket. I lined up the eagle putt with the slight head wind and left it an inch low to leave me with a drop in birdie as Doss got a stroke back with a standard eagle 3. We continued to streak through the next couple of holes as Doss played great and took one stroke per hole as he birdied holes 13 and 14 and scored a par on 15 to take back a 5 stroke lead going into the last 3 holes, almost too many strokes with that many holes. There was only one thing to do at that point: I had to birdie out and see what Doss would do on Hole 17. I still had a chance. I then birdied the 391 foot hole 16 with a massive sidearm hyzer that spiked within 10 feet for the drop in.

Hole 17
Drive on Hole #17

It was all going to come down to Hole 17, which happened to be a lot less frightening this year compared to last for the fact that the player was not charged with a stroke penalty for an OB shot, it was only considered a BunCR and the player would just re-throw from the tee until a shot landed safe inbounds. So Doss would have to miss the island green 5+ times for me to tie him going into hole 18. I stepped to the tee and threw a Whippet-X sidearm and it cut rolled back to the pin on impact for the drop-in birdie. Doss then threw a smooth putter shot that settled down safely on the green and inbounds. He laid up the upshot and scored a par on the hole to pretty much seal the deal. I made a great tee shot on hole 18 and got up and threw an accurate approach into the pin. I was asking Schweberger as I walked up the 18th fairway what the 2nd card did for the round and if I had to run the putt if left with a longer downhill putt. He said that I had no worries and I had a secure 2nd place by 4 strokes over 3rd. Doss played out the hole super safe and conservative with a lay-up shot that he slid up to the pin. I stepped up to my 15 footer to claim 2nd place yet again for the second straight year. Doss dropped in to assure the victory as the gallery exploded with applause. It was a memorable moment that I will not soon forget; it was a battle until the end and a much deserved win for my good friend Nate Doss. It could not have happened to a better person in the world, he played like a Champion all week long.

Team Jenkins

I had an amazing time as always at this year’s United States Disc Golf Championships, it still remains one of my favorite tournaments year in and year out. This tournament will be mine someday; it will be my passion and the reason for my drive to be the best. Who knows how it would have ended if I had started this year’s first round just a little better, I want it more than ever now. It was even better to have my parents present at the event this year and my father caddying for me all four rounds made it even better. I wanted to win for them so bad, but they were still amazed how it all finished in the end. At least they got to see me own the stage and dominate at the Showcase Distance Finals over Winthrop Lake, quite the show for those that know. When you leave a tournament like that, you just can’t wait to get back. It will be a tournament that I will dream about until I once again get my chance to win it all. Until next year……………………………

Next Tournaments: The Texas/OK Tour – Corpus Christi, OK Open and VPO


3 Comments on "2008 USDGC (Part 2) Singles"

  1. One round…..I would say that was mental.
    We all know that you got the skills.
    Just do it!

    -I played a lot of nite golf when I lived in Charlotte.My buddy Jason had a job which ended at 10 pm, so he would always pick me up at 11.30 for a round at Killborne.
    Discs fly differently at nite because the earth is colder.
    So there is no uplift from warm air.
    Except in Charlotte during those hot summer nights….;-)

  2. Yeah, I will tell you what, those discs were not flying like they were supposed to that night.

    Unlike anything that I have seen before in all my years of throwing distance or throwing discs for that matter, I never what to experience that kind of cold at a distance contest ever again.

    I though South Carolina is warm all year ’round, definitely not that night. Looking forward to next years USDGC Distance Contest!


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