This year’s Female Pro Open Division at the World Championships had an amazing finish. The final nine holes were anything but predictable. Between the OB penalties, and the multiple 30+ foot putts smashing chains, it was impossible to guess what could happen next. Going into the finals, Sarah Hokom was in the lead by 5 strokes. I think I saw it mentioned, or said, that “Sarah had the lead going in, and she never lost it.” That’s about as misleading of a statement as I can think of. Although she technically never “lost” her lead, Sarah dropped 4 strokes to Val Jenkins in the final 9 holes. She also went OB on multiple holes approaching tricky pin placements. However, she responded to each big pressure situation by draining huge putts.
At one point, PDGA Female Rookie of the year, Catrina Allen sunk a 40+ foot birdie putt to close the gap and make it a true three-horse-race. However, on the final hole she missed her birdie putt which was her only chance at a tie, assuming Hokom might miss and get a par 3. DiscGolfPlanetTV’s commentator and former World’s Champ Dave Greenwell mentioned leading into the final two holes that hole 8 lent itself nicely to Valarie Jenkins’ game (being a right to left) and hole 9 lent itself to Sarah Hokom’s game (being flick friendly left to right). It wasn’t quite that simple, but that pressure may have been looming on Jenkins as she drove hole 9 knowing that Hokom could comfortably give herself a chance at a putt. Jenkins threw a RHBH shot that stayed left too long and never turned over, and with the dangerous pin placement, she was forced to layup for a par 3. Sarah on the other hand put her flick drive about 25 feet from the basket and downhill (could have been longer, I was watching the live feed- so I don’t want to short change her!) and had a chance to put it in for the win. She did just that, and the gallery erupted with the dramatic finish.
Even though I’m a huge fan of the pro-circuit for disc golf, this was one of only a handful of NT disc golf events I’ve seen live- and on top of that (no offense but it’s true) it was a choppy internet feed that had crackly vocal mics and problems syncing the audio and video. That being said, this was the best finish I’ve had the chance to witness. It wasn’t just a straight up, back and forth battle, where you waited to see who would flinch first. This was a roller coaster. Going into the round looking at the scores you could say, “Well, I suppose it could happen if Val got hot, and Sarah had some bogeys?” But of course these are the finalists, so bogeys aren’t commonplace. Not only did Val throw a white hot round of 1023 rated golf, the OB lines reared their ugly head (sometimes twice on the same hole!) and Sarah was forced to make challenging pressure putts. When it was all said and done, Sarah Hokom kept herself in the race and when she had the chance to win the tournament, she did. Congratulations to the FPO division on delivering top notch entertainment in 2012!