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Qualifying Has Begun
Making it into the USDGC Open Flight will be no easy task this year. With room for less than half of the typical USDGC pro field, only the best will find their way to Rock Hill, S.C. Two disc golfers that have a great chance of winning spots right off the bat when qualifying commences at the Memorial (Feb. 29th – March 3rd ) are Josh Anthon and Avery Jenkins.
The two elite golfers from California are in the hunt at almost every tournament they play in including the USDGC where they’ve appeared a combined 19 times.
For the first time, the Championship will be divided into two flights of 72 players. The Performance Flight brings players of varying skill sets to Winthrop Gold using Performance Scoring, while the Open Flight will host the best of the best to determine the US Champion under stroke play.
This year only the top 20 from 2010 will be exempt from qualifying in the Open Flight. Everyone else including past US and World Champions have to secure a top five score at one of nine regional qualifiers.
Jenkins, the 2009 World Champion, barely missed exemption with a 21st place finish in 2010. Though he seemed surprised past World Champions weren’t exempt, he thinks Open Flight qualifying should be a level playing field that produces a top-notch group.
“That’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the best competition,” said Jenkins, 33, who finished runner-up in the 2007 and 2008 USDGC’s.
Jenkins, who recently returned from a disc golf ambassador trip to Taiwan, said he always looks forward to the start of the season that includes the back-to-back tournaments of the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge in Las Vegas followed a week later by the Memorial in Arizona. Since the fairways and greens are so fast at the Memorial, he plans on using a lot of spike hyzer shots so the disc will stick its landing. Last year he finished 16th at the Memorial, but in 2009 he was second.
The way Anthon, 30, has been playing the Memorial lately, he’ll have a USDGC spot locked up if he continues his stellar play. The last two years he’s finished second at the tournament.
Anthon, who broke the Winthrop Gold Course record in 2009 with a 53 (-15) and later finished 3rd , was unable to compete in the 2010 USDGC because of an ankle injury. Last season the injury flared up occasionally, but he now believes his ankle is nearly back to normal.
Along with those Memorial near misses, Anthon has also finished second at the last three World Championships. Most would say that’s pretty amazing, but getting that close to a win leaves Anthon with a sour taste. He said it’s all about making key shots at the right time, which is what he attributed to winning the NT Pittsburgh Flying Disc Open last year.
“Those are the shots sometimes that mean the most,” said Anthon, who has been busy fixing up cars in the off-season.
After both men sat out last year’s USDGC Performance Edition, the two are ready to qualify and get back to Winthrop. Though both men would like to see the Championship return to its original format, they seemed encouraged at this year’s new direction.
Along with winning the Worlds, claiming the US Championship is always Anthon’s yearly goal. Jenkins too is looking for another stellar year – and one that includes another major win would be just the ticket.