Australian Disc Golf is, to a person, very proud to announce our first world champion today. Bruce McNaughton, playing in the MA65 division, won going away in the final nine of the world championships tournament, to triumph by 11 throws over Garry Hanley from Oregon, USA and 13 ahead of Buz Ryalls-Clephane from Florida, USA.
The amateur world championships is a grueling, week-long test of stamina, nerve and skill: with 6 preliminary rounds over 4 days, followed by an 18 hole semi final and a nine hole final for the top four. Bruce built a solid lead in the mid-week rounds and was never really headed, although a slight miss-step in the Saturday morning semi-final left him with only a 6-throw buffer over a fast-charging Ryallis-Clephane going into the final nine.
But our newly crowned champion was nerveless in the final nine holes, streaking away with birdie after birdie, dominating the final round and increasing his lead to 11 at the end.
Bruce knew he was in a good position mid-week as he’d built the early lead on the the shorter, more technical courses that suited the playing-style of his rivals. With longer courses to come later in the week, tracks suited his booming forehand drives , he knew he just had to stay consistent to be in with a chance. ‘I missed heaps of birdie and par putts though’ he said. Something that obviously didn’t trouble him in that brilliant final nine performance.
Well done Bruce. The rest of Aussie disc golf is celebrating with you this week.
‘So what do you guys actually do?’ was a question thrown to one of the ADG board members at a tournament recently; and we get it – it’s sometimes hard to see what governance is, and the role it plays. But what unfolded recently, around what will undoubtedly become one of the signature moments in the sports history, is a good example of what is possible when a local crew, their tournament, independent media and the ADG all pull together.
As soon as Queensland Disc Golf Championships TD and Granite Mountain owner , Nathan Lee messaged a few people with the news ‘Rhys just won with an ace’, we knew this was going to be a big story. So did everyone involved. Oscar Feldberg at Cut Roll Media, who’d filmed the event, bypassed his normal workflow and burned some late night oil to get the highlight posted up on his youtube channel as fast as he could. Our media guy used his connections with the sports biggest online publication Ultiworld, to get the video posted there and also worked late at night to knock-up a few hundred words to go with it.
Then, in a sign of how well Nate lee has communicated with his local media in recent years, the local Stanthorpe Border Post contacted the Granite Mountain crew, asking them about the tournament (not the other way around – can you believe that?) But Nate had been hospitalized with a severe bout of influenza. Thankfully Carmen Lee was available to give them an interview. We chipped-in with another press release to help the journalist write her article, while disc golf photographer extraordinaire Rhinda Larsen, kindly donated two high resolution pictures to go with the story.
Rhys Kruger used the press release and some of Rhinda’s pictures to spread the word among his local Gold Coast news outlets as well. It’s a moment like this, that has the potential to ‘jump the tracks’ and not just spread the word about our sport to the uninitiated, but convey it’s passion and skill. It seemed that everyone who cared, got behind this story as best they could.
Oh, and congratulations to Rhys Kruger on an amazing win.
The northern hemisphere summer of 2019 is proving to be the season that the most ever Aussie disc golfers have traveled internationally to compete. As the sport develops in Australia, we are starting to produce players who qualify for top level international competition. The Aussies travelling away to play are (from top left to bottom right):
Jordan Wheeler is currently homeless, roaming the USA in a van and will be playing in the Pro World Championships in Preoria Illinois in August. Also Jordie has been on tour competing in a host of smaller tournaments as well as some National and Disc Golf Pro Tour events, like the Ledgestone Open and the Silver Cup.