Robinson has a three-shot lead; Tattar up by five.
September 3, 2023 by Kingsley Flett in Analysis, Recap with comments
For the fourth round in a row, the top of the MPO leaderboard at the Pro World Championships has been shuffled more than a deck of cards at a poker game. Of the lead card that took the course on Saturday, only the tournament leader heading into championship Sunday, Isaac Robinson, stays in the top four. Just like between rounds three and four, three lead card members have been swapped out for fresh contenders: this time all from the third card.
The story of Chris Dickerson’s round is the least-sad of three sorry tales: he fared relatively well compared to the other two who slipped out of the top card, dropping only to the chase card, five strokes off the pace. James Proctor fell 14 places down to 17th after his 2-under-par round that included three bogeys and a double bogey on hole 11. On the same hole, Cole Redalen, the leader after three rounds, threw his putt wide of the basket and long into OB to also score a double bogey. In Redalen’s case, though, the damage had already been done. The round three leader had already bogeyed four holes on his way to 3-over-par for the day and a slide down to a share of 23rd place.
Dickerson was one of five other players besides Robinson to either hold or share the lead during the round. Eagle McMahon topped the table for much of the early part of the round on his way to a new course record, a sparkling 14-under 49. Calvin Heimburg grabbed the outright lead off the third card with a birdie on hole 14 and either held or shared the number one spot until an inexplicable mistake on the tee of hole 18.
“You just can’t throw it OB, especially not right and that’s what I did,” said Heimburg after the round. After re-teeing and making the correction to land in the center fairway, Heimburg then threw his approach 20 feet wide and missed the testing putt to save bogey, dropping from a share of the lead to what would become a 3-stroke deficit after Robinson birdied the same hole.
Heimburg, frustrated, paced off to the edge of the circle and shook his head. Nowhere near as upset as Dickerson became, though. After missing a Circle 2 putt for the outright lead, Dickerson had his comebacker from inside the bullseye lift a little too high into the chains and fall out right. Dickerson followed the bogey up by throwing OB off the next tee for another bogey. Then, after missing the mando on hole 13 and dropping four strokes off the pace back to a share of 8th place, Dickerson gave one of the trees surrounding the basket a little short-armed jab that had some anger behind it. The immediate reaction of the DGN commentary team was to ask the question, “Which hand did he punch the tree with?” followed by “Oh, OK, it was only his left hand.”
While most of the lead card were tumbling down the board, a couple of players were making themselves known. After Evan Scott buried a 50 foot putt off one knee to the elevated basket on hole 13, it became apparent that it wasn’t only Heimburg who was lighting it up from the third card. Scott, who sits three shots back in second place after finishing with a 12-under, was asked after the round about the benefit of playing alongside someone like Calvin when he’s on fire.
“I think it helped me out a lot,” Scott said. “Calvin was playing really good the whole time. I was chasing him the entire round. It makes it a little easier for me when I’m chasing somebody. I think I only missed one or two putts that I’d like to have back so my putting felt really good all day. I was just consistent and didn’t do anything stupid and kept birdieing.”
Scott’s other third cardmate, Kyle Klein, looked like he was also following the ‘don’t do anything stupid’ doctrine. He stayed in bounds all day, keeping a clean sheet to go with his 11 birdies on his way to a three-way tie for third with Heimburg and Anthony Barela.
Isaac Robinson stayed mostly in-bounds, too, only crossing the rope on hole 4 but managing to save his par. Robinson stayed in sight of the lead all day, shared it with Heimburg for much of the back nine, then jumped up by two after Heimburg’s mishaps on 18. A birdie on 18 gave the tournament its first clear leader after four days.
“It’s a little unreal, unbelievable,” Robinson said after the round. “It felt really good. At the start, I wasn’t throwing bad shots, I just wasn’t throwing good shots on the first three or four holes. I told my dad that I was going to need to get some birdies soon and thankfully those birdies started coming. Those guys on the third card shredded today. I was watching scores the whole time. If they are bringing that kind of game tomorrow, I’m going to have to keep doing what I’m doing and shoot just as well today. I think 10-down is going to be the mark tomorrow. I’m going to try to shoot that and go over it if I can.”
10-under-par does seem to be the magic number: so far Evan Scott has averaged 10.5-under-par over two rounds on the Fox Run Meadows course, Kyle Klein 10-under, Heimburg 8.5-under, and Robinson 9-under. Robinson is in a great position: a three-stroke or better lead has almost always been safe going into the final round of Worlds. Except, of course, last year, when Aaron Gossage had a three shot lead and ended up losing in a playoff to Paul McBeth. But as we have seen so far this week on hole 18 at Fox Run Meadows, Isaac Robinson — or whoever else is standing on that teebox with the lead — will want at least a three-stroke cushion to feel safe.
Hole 18 Bites Again as Tattar Extends Her Lead by One
The term ‘unforced error’ is a needless distinction in disc golf because strictly they are all unforced errors. Even so, some errors are more unforced than others. For the first three rounds of the Pro Worlds, Kristin Tattar had barely made any errors, let alone unforced ones; by hole 9 of round four, the defending World Champ had made at least three.
With an opportunity to create a two-stroke swing on hole one after Missy Gannon had thrown OB off the tee, Tattar putted low and into the cage from well inside the circle, limiting Gannon’s damage to one stroke. Then, on hole 7, there was another two shot swing up for grabs for Tattar as Gannon again went OB off the tee, but Tattar’s approach faded left into OB and she failed to save par, matching bogeys with Gannon. On hole 9, Tattar threw her worst drive of the tournament, releasing the backhand so early that it crossed into OB barely halfway down the fairway. Tattar’s bogey on this hole meant that lead she had stretched to five strokes was back to four.
Gannon then lowered the gap to three with a birdie on hole 10, and almost took another stroke on hole 11 save for Tattar’s 50-foot downhill birdie make. The gap between the pair remained unchanged until the pivotal hole 14. Tattar threw her drive long and out of bounds and then failed to draw metal on the par-save putt. Gannon putted in for birdie from 16 feet. The lead, which had been at nine strokes early in round three, was down to one, and all the momentum was with Gannon. Tattar’s caddie and partner, Silver Lätt, put a reassuring arm around her shoulder as Tattar was confronted with her most testing moment of the tournament so far.
As champions often do, Tattar responded on the next hole by lacing a forehand down the tunnel to the edge of circle 1 and jamming a birdie putt. The lead was back to two, which held until Missy Gannon stood on the tee of 18.
“I threw a bit of a glidey disc of the tee of 18,” Gannon said after the round. “I just misreleased it a little bit, too much hyzer, otherwise, the disc choice was right.”
Gannon’s drive sailed too high, crossing the fairway all the way and sliding out of bounds on the left. Then she made another miscalculation with her approach and attempt to save bogey.
“The headwind kind of snuck up on me,” she said. “There was no wind, then all of a sudden when I released it, I felt the headwind. So unlucky timing in a way.”
Gannon’s approach turned over and she again crossed the OB line, this time to the right of the basket, well out of putting range. The double bogey was devastating. After an absorbing three-hour battle where Gannon managed to claw back to within two strokes, Tattar’s lead was one larger than the four she had started the round with.
Although relieved at the late turn of events, it had clearly been a tough day for the defending champ.
“Today was a battle on the course,” Tattar said. “At least it felt like that to me. It probably showed as well. It’s not nice to miss short putts. It messes with your confidence. But I was trying to battle through it and finish strong. Of course, making the long putt on 11 helped, but I still have that little bit of a shaky feeling inside and I don’t know why but it was there. I was just trying to stay calm and tell myself, ‘It’s just disc golf, you have practised, you know how to do it, just pick yourself up and keep going no matter what comes in your way,’ and that’s what I did. I could have gone either way but fortunately it worked out in my favor.”
The sad part about this absorbing battle is that we only get one more round to enjoy it. Both players are averaging unprecedented 1000-rated rounds for the tournament so far. There are other players out there pushing them, though. As easy as it is to get wholly focused on the battle between the top two, there is also a close battle going on for that final spot on the podium between Norway’s Lykke Lorentzen, Texas’ Holyn Handley, and Finland’s Henna Blomroos and Eveliina Salonen. It is a true World championship and we have one round to go.