2021 Masters Cup Preview: Who Can Unseat The Blue Bloods In Santa Cruz?

72 holes over three rounds on one of disc golf’s most beloved venues

Because our last memory of DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course and the Santa Cruz Masters Cup in 2019 includes a triumphant Garrett Gurthie finally taking down a PDGA National Tour win, it can be easy to forget that the event has really been a two-sided affair in both divisions for almost a decade.

I’ll give you all of one second to think of who those four players could be. Yes, you’re right. Since 2011, Paul McBeth (5), Paige Pierce (4), Catrina Allen (4), and Ricky Wysocki (2) account for 15 of the available 18 titles. DeLa has also been the setting for some of the quartet’s highest career rated rounds, such as McBeth’s 1102-rated opener in 2017.

As kind as DeLa can be to the blue bloods, it also often sees players outplaying their rating and earning a top 10 finish. That may especially be true in 2021 with all three rounds on the disc golf course. In the past three Open events, two sub-1000-rated players1 finished seventh or better, and a young Austin Turner made back-to-back top 10s in 2017 and 2018. Similarly, the 920-930 rated Open Women’s players challenge for a podium spot at a higher frequency in Santa Cruz.

The PDGA National Tour will take an extended break through the summer, meaning the NT point series should have a good shape to it by weekend’s end. Pierce skipped the Dynamic Discs Open and a poor finish at Texas States has her in 24th, while Hailey King is 2-for-2 in NTs this season and 20 points clear of second place Allen. King will need to shake-off the rough final round at USWDGC to maintain the strong start. Meanwhile Wysocki and McBeth are neck-and-neck after splitting the first NTs, and a second tier of fellow 1050s lurks close behind.

Past Winners

  PDGA Tier Open Open Women
2019 NT Garrett Gurthie Catrina Allen
2018 NT Ricky Wysocki Paige Pierce
2017 NT Paul McBeth Paige Pierce
2016 NT Ricky Wysocki Catrina Allen
2015 NT Paul McBeth Paige Pierce
2014 NT Paul McBeth Catrina Allen
2013 NT Paul McBeth Catrina Allen
2012 NT Paul McBeth Sarah Hokom
2011 B Josh Anthon Paige Pierce
2010 NT Ken Climo Carrie Berlogar
2009 NT Gregg Barsby Valarie Jenkins
2008 NT Steve Rico Valarie Jenkins
2007 NT Josh Anthon Des Reading
2006 NT Ken Climo Juliana Korver
2005 NT Steve Rico Carrie Berlogar
2004 NT Ken Climo Juliana Korver
2003 B Micah Dorius Carrie Berlogar
2002 A Barry Schultz Anni Kreml
2001 A Steve Rico Juliana Korver
2000 A Barry Schultz Shelly Bunch
1999 A Barry Schultz Juliana Korver
1998 A Ken Climo Anni Kreml
1997 A John Ahart Anni Kreml
1996 A Ken Climo Anni Kreml
1995 A Geoff Lissaman Michelle Wade
1994 A Scott Stokely Anni Kreml
1993 A Ken Climo Kelly Knapp
1992 A Sam Ferrans Amye Jerez
1991 C Steve Valencia Amye Jerez
1990 C Mike Loya Amy Schiller
1989 C Sam Ferrans n/a
1988 C Michael Williams Amye Jerez
1987 C Geoff Lissaman Kathy Tanizawa
1986 C Johnny Lissaman Kathy Tanizawa

What We’re Watching

  • It’s always a pleasure to watch a local work an Elite Series venue, and Santa Cruz’s Matt Bell has done just that in the past. Bell has a B-tier win and Disc Golf Pro Tour top five this season, but is averaging a finish in the 30s at other big events. If we were a betting site we’d say Bell finishes in the top 20.
  • While many men were able to take a weeks’ worth of rest after the OTB Open, the majority of the women in the field are coming off a busy month that included last week’s United States Women’s Disc Golf Championship. After trekking up and down DeLa’s terrain for 24 holes a day, will tired legs come into play down the stretch on Sunday?
  • Ella Hansen nabbed a podium in NorCal already at USWDGC, and DeLa could prove to be another course that suits her game. The winning FPO score at the Masters Cup is usually a couple strokes away from par in either the positive or negative direction, but Hansen may have the power to get herself into more scoring opportunities than many others in the field. It’s the same reason Allen and Pierce have been able to dominate the event over time.

GRIP6 Pick 6 Lock Of The Week

By now you know that Calvin Heimburg has yet to finish outside of the top five in 2021. Heimburg has only ever made it out to Santa Cruz once before, in 2019, and finished fourth, helping him en route to a PDGA NT points title that season. You have to hit lines on DeLa and he’s got that in spades.

We’re hoping for a Sarah Hokom return to the course this week, but in the meantime we’ll hedge with Madison Walker. Walker’s playing better than her finishes indicate and she’s got two consecutive top five finishes at Masters Cup, granted she made up some strokes each event over on the golf course.

The Course

DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course: MPO – 8,499 feet, par 75; FPO – 8,499 feet, par 75

Don’t let the high par catch you off guard, we’ve got the 24 hole layout to play!

This is still the DeLa you know. Low ceilings, 2-meter rule, hard pack and tricky ground play, and, of course,  roll-aways are always a danger. We do, however, have four new pin locations. Tournament holes 14, 16, and 17 have all been extended into par 4s, and hole 12 will be playing in a further right pin position that was only used for the amateur divisions in 2019.

Masters Cup DeLa Caddy Book

How To Watch

Follow livescoring on UDisc Live. For video round coverage, see our previous post:

How To Watch The 2021 Santa Cruz Masters Cup

  1. Bennett Wineka

    Benn started playing disc golf in the ’90s but has somehow never gotten any better. He lives in Decatur, Georgia and cares too much about Atlanta United and UNC basketball. Email him at bennett@ultiworld.com

TAGGED: PDGA National Tour, 2021 Masters Cup, 2021 PDGA National Tour, 2021 Santa Cruz Masters Cup, DeLaveaga Park, Masters Cup, National Tour, PDGA National Tour, Preview, Santa Cruz Masters Cup

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