Story – Kingsley Flett. Pictures – Tim Marchbank
If you have a quick scan down the results page for the 2020 Queensland Disc Golf Championships you’ll notice something quite unique – the 31 novice players that contributed almost half the record field of 64. It’s a tangible sign of the recent explosion in disc golf participation in the sunshine state.
‘We had 14 more than our biggest ever year’ said Tournament Director Rhys Kruger. ‘It’s a record attendance for the event, which is pretty good considering the borders are closed and all but one were local players.’
Rhys Kruger was also pleased at the big number of novice players in the event. ‘It’s usually pretty difficult to convince novice players to step straight into a 2-day state championship. But it just shows how keen most of the new players are. Our furthest travelled player was Nicholas Greg from Townsville. One of the novice players, Nick Halstead, I’d only convinced to play five days before and he ended up one-throw off the win in second.”
The big story of the day though, was provided by someone who was playing novice only four years ago himself. Michal Durand played his first round of disc golf in Augusta Georgia USA, some years ago, but it wasn’t until after his dad returned to Queensland in 2015 that Michal was convinced to play the league days at Yeronga. A steady climb through the ranks had him making to decision to play open this year. The result, in only his second tournament as an MPO player, was quite unexpected.
“I’m a bit blown away” he admitted the day after. “I’m still processing it. I never thought I’d be taking a win this weekend or be the QLD champion – I was going to play the best as I could and be happy with whatever the outcome was. I started the event in the mindset of turning up and focusing on playing good golf. I always think about its just me vs the course and being able to maintain that focus was key.”
On life in the top card he said “I always was looking up to the open players. When I made the call to play open my goal was to grow and learn from the people who inspire me. Apart from my Dad, who got me into disc golf, the people I really have to thank are Rhys (Rhys Kruger), BJ (Brian Clevenger) and Gavin (Gavin Cowan) for shaping me as a player. Over the whole weekend all my fellow competitors supported each other and that was special to me.”
After a windy day one which played havoc with the scores. Michal went into the final round one throw back from leader Aaron Moreton. The turning point came after the pair had matched each other in birdying 4 out of the first 5 holes. Moreton threw his drive on the par-5 hole six into an early tree and defected into the water. The two-throw swing gave Durand the lead and, although Moreton was able to level again after birdying hole nine, he was unable to match Durand birdying 3 out of the last 7 holes.
“Sinking my last putt was such a mental release of relief” Said Durand. “We all felt for Aaron when his drive kicked into the water on hole six. But I guess there were a lot of unlucky moments on the card – clean putts pushing through the chains or bouncing out of the basket etc. But the spirit on the card was great, we all we all picked each other up when unlucky moments happened and pushed on. The on the other hand it’s amazing to share moments of brilliance with people on your card.”
Durand credited his forehand for much of his success in the event. “It felt pretty faultless all weekend.” He said. “In round one I lost my favourite ballista pro. I went long on a hole and sent it 120+ metres into the river. But otherwise I felt really consistent. I threw the 4th Circle Dingo and the Firehawk a lot over the weekend. Rhys Kruger has done such a great job with those discs.”
The spirit shown on the top card seemed to extend to the whole event. “Without the community and dedicated people helping each time we would not have this event.” Said Durand. “I’d really like to thank all the people who were there with us each day setting up and packing up, and to Rhys for such a great event.“
“It was a little tough running an entire event just on metrix with no physical scorecards.” Said Kruger afterwards. “But the players were very patient to get it working which made things easier. So many people had an amazing time.“
Other winners from the tournament were
MA1 – Abraham Garfield
FA1 – Natalie Jones
MA40 – Bradley Adams
MA50 – Russell Wolf
MA2 – Aaron Cuerel
MA4 – Luke Bayne
FA4 – Mikayla Haka
MJ15 – Archer Shaw