Tournament Recap - 2023 White Rose Open
One incredibly valuable thing to do is to sit back and evaluate how something went. This can be very true for disc golf tournament rounds as well. I have always found that the best way to accomplish this is to wait a few days and let the energy and initial emotions of the event pass by. To that end, here we are, talking about the 2023 White Rose Open.
In my previous post about this tournament, I talked about the tournament itself and the individual courses, providing my thoughts on the layouts and what holes to look out for on each of the courses. In today’s post, I’ll walk you through my performance during those rounds and give you some insight into how I dealt with the situations and what I am coming away from the event with on a physical and mental level.
The first round of the event was on the Codorus State Park – Purple course. As I arrived at the course, the weather began deteriorating. The sky was overcast, the wind was picking up, and the rain was starting to fall. I was able to get some warmup holes in, but it was proving slow going, as you can imagine. Fortunately for me, my buddy Jacob was on the bag, making it easy for me to keep my hands dry and manage my towels.
We started on hole 5. This would inevitably start a trend for the tournament of starting on or within two holes of my least favorite hole on each course. Hole 6 is traditionally where a lot of people get their round shaken up, so going into it a bit cold and in the rain wasn’t ideal. I played as conservatively as I could, but I still took the bogey. As we moved through the course, birdies were hard to come by between the conditions and not being fully warmed up as much as I would have liked. My hope was to attack holes 8 and 10, which are mildly soft par 4s. I was not able to do so.
As we played on, the weather stabled out a bit despite some continued wind. We made our way to the back leg of the course. I took an unfortunate bogey on hole 11, leaving myself too short on an upshot. At that point, I was at +2 on the scorecard, which was, unfortunately, well below what I was looking to score on Purple. I gathered myself on 12’s tee and threw a pretty great drive. The upshot was even sweeter. I threw my Eric Oakley Berg about 125’, landing under the basket. Easy birdie.
That confidence kept firing as I would get some pretty easy pars on the next two holes and land my drive on the island green of 15. I hit the circle’s edge putt for the big birdie and found myself back at even. I couldn’t connect on the next several holes, and I finished with a bogey on 3, which was disappointing. After looking at the scores, I found myself tied for 15th in a division of 50. Not great but not the worst.
If you hadn’t been there to see it, you would’ve thought round 2 was being played on a different day. The sun came out, and it was gorgeous. The wind was still present, but overcast and rainy became sunny and warm pretty quickly. I was determined to execute given the better conditions. This round, I never one time looked at my score or the scores of the field and card. I wanted to just play disc golf.
This round was being played on Codorus State Park – Red. This is my favorite of the three courses on the property to play. My overall favorite is Blue, but that’s a story for a different day. As was the case in round 1, I was starting with my least favorite hole being the 2nd of the round. Wonderfully enough, I survived hole 7 and entered the woods with a clean slate. The confidence came when stepping up to hole 9, a difficult tee shot to hit. I hit the gap with a pure drive that carried me to circle 1, where I jammed the 25-footer for birdie. It was time to play.
Over the course of the next 11 holes, I took 3 more birdies and had a completely clean scorecard. My drives were hitting all the gaps. My upshots made it under the basket, and my putts felt clean out of the hand every single time. My only blemish of the round came on hole 3 when I had a “heat check” moment. My drive ran long of the basket into some bushes, and I attempted a bit of an aggressive putt to snag the birdie. In doing so, I hit the top of the basket and found myself in bushes opposite of my prior position. I missed that putt as well. My first bogey of the round.
I shook it off quickly and birdied the next hole with what felt like my best shot of the whole tournament. I had about 250-275’ to go to the basket, and my lie was on a slanted fairway. The wind was pushing off the lake and rushing up the hill. Swing it too wide and I would be way up the hill with a terrifying downhill putt. Saw it off too early and I would possibly find the water. I executed the shot to perfection and swung it out as far as I needed to. I had a 5-foot tap in for the birdie.
The round closed, and my card mate exclaimed that I was now at the top of the leaderboard, tied with Connor Miller. He would eventually birdie his finishing hole to take solo 1st, putting me 1 stroke off of the lead going into the final round the next day. I was pretty hyped to have clawed back. My round was 964-rated, and it was the hot round of the MA2 division. It was time for some sleep and mental preparation for the next day.
I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous for the final round. Not in a debilitating way. It was a competitive nervousness. I used to play very competitive basketball, soccer, and any sport I could get my hands on. I coached high school boys’ basketball. I love pressure. Pressure makes you feel alive and really live in the moment. The pressure started the night before when I saw my starting hole was hole 3. I have a very unfortunate history with this hole since I took a double bogey on it the previous year.
I showed up to the course with plenty of time to practice. We played holes 1, 2, 3, and 4. Plus, I was able to get about 10-15 minutes of good putting warmups in. I practiced hole 3 and it went very well. I had my disc and line selected. When the call went out to start, I was second on the tee pad. I watched Conner throw a beautiful shot through the gap and put himself in a decent position. I stepped up and shorted my angle. This found me out of bounds, earlier than the corner. I pulled my lie straight back, using the rules to my advantage, and threw an aggressive second shot, placing me at about 40 feet from the basket to save my par. The shot was a lot more skillful looking now that I think back on it.
I now had 40 feet between me and the basket. The previous day, in round 2, I was a killer from this range. I put the disc in the air, and it looked good. Unfortunately, I was a bit right and the disc hit the ground sideways. It started to roll. Much to my dismay, it rolled about 15 feet, around some trees, and right out of bounds. Again. The comeback putt was heavily obstructed, and I missed that. I took a triple bogey. I felt awful about it. Two holes later, I took a double bogey.
Sitting at +5, I had to have a serious internal conversation with myself. I rattled off 6 consecutive pars and found myself on hole 12. My tee shot was just fun to watch. 324 feet away, the basket was tucked on the hillside. I threw my Colossus on a wide hyzer and watched it find its way to the base of the basket. A tap in birdie made me feel better. A few holes later, the difficulty started again.
My round finished with 5 straight bogeys and 2 pars. In the end, I wound up with a +9. It’s not what I wanted, but it’s where I was. Connor destroyed the field, clearing the 2nd place finisher by 8 strokes. It was a lot of fun to watch him dominate. I will never be the player to wish misfortune on others. If I win, it’s because I outplayed them, and if someone outplays me, I will watch them with happiness and be the first to congratulate them.
While it didn’t end the way I would have hoped, an 8th-place finish still felt pretty good. There were glimpses of my real potential showing up during the weekend, and that 2nd round was awesome. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the tournament functioned from start to finish. What I wasn’t surprised about was how much fun I had. I think I laughed more in these 3 rounds than I have ever laughed in any other tournament I’ve played in. The group of guys I played with was legendary.
As for my game, it continues to need to be worked on. My putts need more fine-tuning, and I need to find my game within my bag. Right now, it feels like I’m having a bit of a disconnect with what I have always felt good about. The only way I know to fix it is to keep playing. Keep grinding. I’m now on to the next one.
Gary Daddario III (www.thumberlife.com)