Disc golfers runner-up at Dean’s Cup, prepare for next month’s Flamethrower Invitational
Liberty University’s first flight men’s disc golf team advanced to Saturday’s final of the Dean’s Cup, held in conjunction with the United States Disc Golf National Championships at the Winthrop Gold Course in Rock Hill, S.C., before being edged by Missouri S&T on the fourth playoff hole.
“The amount of people there was crazy,” Liberty Head Coach Steve Bowman said, estimating the crowd size for the professional event to be close to 5,000. “We had quite a few people following us, too, friends and family that knew we were playing.”
Flames senior Spencer Ellingson, juniors Stephen Curry and Justin Rosak, and sophomore Triston Lambert teamed up to defeat Texas A&M, 65-59, in Friday’s semifinals of doubles play before going back and forth with Missouri S&T in the final.
“We were up two strokes within the first five or six holes, but then left the door open and let them hang around,” Bowman said. “On No. 8, we missed a putt and took a par while they took a birdie and we were tied up at No. 11 before they got birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to go up by two. We knew we had to do something, and we got a little more aggressive and picked up birdies on Nos. 16 and 17, one of the hardest holes on the course. Then on 18, we had a great drive, but left the second shot a little short, had a long run at it and missed an uphill shot for birdie to seal the win.”
Tied at 57, the teams replayed holes No. 17 and 18, with both birdying and parring them to force a third playoff hole on a short spectator’s course, since the PDGA players had already teed off on No. 1. Missouri S&T’s players birdied the second hole and the Flames parred it, settling for second place.
“The spectator course we went to for the last two playoff holes was immensely different, like the difference between playing New London and then going to Peaks View and playing two holes, and it was tough for our guys to shift gears,” Bowman said. “We were a little stronger (off the tee), so it played to their advantage.”
The players stayed around to follow the professional players on Saturday’s fourth and final day of the U.S. National Championships and witnessed Paul McBeth win his third national title, rallying from two strokes down on No. 16 to tie Kyle Klein at 26-under-par by No. 18 and winning a one-hole playoff.
“It was a great finish, and great for our guys to witness,” Bowman said, noting that McBeth, who now lives in nearby Goode, Va., and has helped design a couple professional courses in Bedford County, has led clinics for the team in the past. “He’s been at practices and been an integral part of the team when he’s done touring. So he’s been great for the team and the dynamic. (Former Lady Flames player) Hannah (Croke, now McBeth) comes out and engages with the ladies on the team.”
The Flames and Lady Flames are now gearing up for the Nov. 6-7 Flamethrower Invitational, with the top three teams receiving bids to next spring’s College Disc Golf National Championships in Marion, N.C. Play will begin with doubles and singles rounds on Liberty’s 20-hole course near the Hydaway Outdoor Center before concluding with singles play on the 20-hole East Campus course on Sunday.
“Knowing that you’ve played these courses so much, the key is not being overconfident playing the course, but focusing in and settling down,” said Bowman, who plans to enter at least three four-man teams and one two-woman tandem against a field of three to five other schools.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer