Posted in Featured Articles
Open Flight Qualify Update
When the USDGC converted to a dual format that narrowed the Open field to a mere 72 spots in 2012, 6-time competitor Ken “Tank” Franks figured his days of playing Winthrop Gold were largely behind him.
However, 999-rated Franks is now on his way to his first Championship since 2010 after showing at the Kansas City Wide Open (June 14-16th) you don’t have to have a meteoric rating to qualify for the USDGC’s Open Flight.
Calling the Kansas City area home since 2009, Franks, 37, said he had practically dismissed qualifying hopes following Round 2 when a rough double bogey, bogey start at the Rosedale Park Course stalled his momentum.
Knowing he’d need some magic for Round 3 at the Blue Valley Park Course – a course he seldom plays because of how it strains his knees – Franks somehow delivered with a 1031-rated 60.
“Ironically enough it is where I played my best round,” said Franks, who ended up tying his personal best there.
He was still surprised to see his name with those that had qualified, especially competing against so many highly rated golfers.
“My goal was just to cash,” said Franks, whose Tank nickname stems partially from the 2003 movie Old School.
With 7 regional qualifiers in the bag, Franks joins a tough-as-nails field being assembled for the Open Flight.
2008 US Champ Nate Doss took care of business early in Arizona, then, more talent like 2011 Masters World Champ Jon Baldwin, and Euro contender Simon Lizotte were ushered in from qualifiers in California and Denmark, respectively.
Jay “Yeti” Reading qualified from the masters division and 5-time US Champ Ken Climo qualified for the 15th time, both at the Hall of Fame Classic in Georgia.
Exempt from qualifying and already registered include 2012 US Champ Will Schusterick, last year’s runner-up, Richard Wysocki, 2012 World Champion Paul McBeth, Paul Ulibarri, Josh Anthon and more.
Since he moved to Kansas City in 2009, Franks said he’s settled down from his life as a touring pro and has worked to build his commercial and residential painting business and teach disc golf.
Work still consumes him this year, but he’s tried to focus on his play during the season. Franks figured he had two chances to qualify this year: the Kansas City Wide Open and the Pro Worlds, but he found he couldn’t make Worlds, so his hometown NT event was it.
Now that he’s in, he can already picture himself in Rock Hill, S.C. , October 2-5th.
Franks remembers fondly waiting to hear his name attached to a tee time during his first USDGC Banquet in 2004 and hoping it wouldn’t be too early. The morning tee times came and went and as the afternoon times were called, Franks said he began to worry that he had been overlooked. Soon enough Franks was called and was grouped with another Ken, 5-time US Champion Ken Climo.
Franks said he shot a forgettable 78 during that first round, while Climo tied the course record with a 56. He said the two men still remember that round and developed a lasting friendship.
After struggling with consistency with the Gold Course again in 2006, Franks broke through in 2007 with a 58 and was Round 1’s leader.
“That was probably my greatest memory in disc golf,” said Franks, who made the cut for the first time that year and also made nearly $1100.
This year, Franks will assuredly be glad just to be back playing Winthrop, but Tank whose motto of “Focus and follow through” is written on all of his putters, might pull off more career highlights.
Five spots are remaining to be awarded at the Beaver State Fling, the European Open, PDGA Pro World Championships, The Vibram Open, the Southern National Pro Championship, plus, USDGC Monday Qualifying.
(Photo By: Jack Trageser)