EUREKA — Nate Sexton knew what he needed to do to win the Discraft Ledgestone Insurance Open at Eureka Lake on Sunday.
Sexton, the 2017 United States Disc Golf Champion, played a conservative front nine holes with only three birdies and went red-hot on the back nine making seven birdies to finish with a 10-under-par 53. His four-round score of 28-under 224 topped the Men's Pro Open division in the Professional Disc Golf Association tournament on the Buzzz Course.
The Asheville, N.C., resident came into the final round at 18-under 171, tied with Reid Frescura and Chris Dickerson. The trio trailed A.J. Risley of San Marcos, Calif., who was at 21-under 168.
“The front nine is the scarier nine, so I played that one pretty safe and it went exactly according to plan," said Sexton. "I played for par intentionally on a lot of those holes, and then I attacked the back nine.
"So it pretty much went perfect, exactly what I wanted. I was thinking that 11 under would be the perfect round, and I laid up (on No. 18) and shot a 10 (under).”
On the par-4 711-foot 18th hole, Sexton had the lead and put his drive right down the fairway and threw his approach in the circle, giving himself a 32-foot putt for birdie and the outright win. Dickerson, of Limestone, Tenn., was in second place at 27 under. He also put his drive down the fairway, but hooked his approach out of bounds into the water and settled for bogey. Sexton laid up and ended the round with a par to earn his $7,000 first-place payout.
“I was super happy to execute and have it happen in the big moment. If A.J. played great there was no beating him, but, unfortunately for him, he had a tougher day.” Sexton said. “It kind of just became a two-horse race with me and Chris at the end. It was one of the best battles I’ve ever been a part of. This is the second biggest win of my life, along with the United States Championship last year. So this is easily the second biggest win of my career.”
Dickerson finished in second place at 26-under 226 after posting 8-under 55 and earned $4,600 in prize money. Cameron Colglazier of Mobile, Ala., shot 52 in the final round and finished in third place at 25-under 227. Frescura earned fourth place with a 23-under 229 after shooting 58.
Risley shot even-par 63 and ended at 21-under 231. Paul McBeth, the 2016 Ledgestone Open champion and four-time world champion, shot 52 and finished tied for 13th place with 17-under 235. Richard Wysocki, ranked first overall in the PDGA world rankings, finished in eighth with 20-under 232.
In the Female Pro Open at Sunset Hills in Pekin, Jessica Weese shot 5-under 54 and finished 15-under 219 for the tournament to claim her win and $2,300 prize.
The Grass Valley, Calif., resident had three birdies on the front nine and closed out the back nine holes with five birdies to hold off second-place finisher Sarah Hokom of Freedom, Calf. Hokom shot 7-under 52 in the final round and finished with 13-under 221.
“It’s pretty huge considering last year I went into a three-hole playoff and ended up losing, so it feels wonderful to come back and get the win," Weese said. "This is my third biggest tournament win of my career, so I think that’s pretty big."
Hokom and Weese were tied going into hole No. 12, an island hole that proved to be key.
"I really had to make a crucial decision since the round was coming down to an end, and I decided to go for it and almost aced it," said Weese. "I knew that was the momentum, once I grabbed that birdie, and had to keep going.”
Sunday also marked a big win for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Tournament director Nate Heinold presented a check for $20,000 during the post-tournament awards ceremony. This marks the fifth year of giving back to the families in need with the help of Ledgestone Insurance and other tournament sponsors.
John Komosa can be reached at 686-3208 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jkom91.