MARION - Fifteen was one of the week's most magical ages at the PDGA Amateur World Championships, the ages of the top male and female players who emerged from the annual event hosted this year by the Mid-Ohio Organized Disc Golf organization (MOODGolf).
The tournament's semifinals were Saturday morning at Delaware State Park, Marion's Sawyer-Ludwig Park and Upper Sandusky's Reservoir Park, and the nine-hole finals were contested later in the day on a temporary course at the Ohio State-Marion Campus, which had served as tournament headquarters.
Tiffin's Hedges-Boyer Park, Bucyrus' Aumiller Park and Alum Creek State Park in Galena served as the other tournament courses.
In the men's advanced division, Derek Wiggins Jr. made the finals a drawn-out coronation, after his round of 47 in the semifinals at Upper Sandusky (tied for best on the day) gave him a 27-stroke lead heading into the finals. The High Point, N.C., native finished at an astounding 64-under par, 29 strokes better than Washington's Brandon Parsons, with Trey Williams (N.C.) and David Nelson (Ill.) successive strokes behind Parsons.
Wiggins was runner-up by a stroke last year in the top division, and two years ago was champion in the 19-under junior division.
Similarly in the women's advanced division, Rebecca Frazer of Morgantown, Ind. took a 16-stroke lead into the semifinals, shot a 64 to carry 14-stroke lead into the finals and maintained that margin on her way to the title, finishing at +14.
Her older sister, Michelle, repeated her fourth-place finish from last year, qualifying for the four-person finals after beating her mother, Sandra, in a semifinal playoff.
After a so-so semifinal, Rebecca said she played better in the final. Part of that had to with a difference from last year, when she was runner-up after taking a one-stroke lead into the finals.
"The semifinal round, it kind of hurt a bit because I wasn't concentrating as much," she said, "but that was my fault.
"I was thinking the whole time [during the finals], 'this is a lot more fun.'"
With the tournament in Ohio, it perhaps was fitting to have one of the premier divisions (19-under boys) boast a winner from the Buckeye State. Medina's 17-year-old Ricky Wysocki shot 26 in the finals to cap a five-stroke win, finishing at -49.
"It was nerve-wracking," said Wysocki, who overcame a water shot on No. 2 and another out-of-bounds on No. 3 to manage a bogey and par on those holes. "Definitely, seeing all my hard practice pay off, it's nice to see. After my OB strokes, I knew I had to knock my putting on."
Being able to practice the courses with some consistency in the weeks leading up the tournament gave Wysocki a possible advantage of over many of his opponents. He also had the confidence derived from a runner-up finish in the amateur nationals (10 strokes behind Wiggins) earlier in the summer in Michigan.
"It makes me feel good knowing everyone from Ohio was cheering me on," he said.
Also in the 19-unders, Upper Sandusky 17-year-old Jeremiah Rall had the best performance of any area player during the week. Rall shot even par over six rounds to finish tied for 16th out of 31 in the division, two strokes out of the semifinals.
Two other junior divisions needed an extra hole to finish the finals. In the 13-unders, Japan's Daichi Inoue overcame a three-stroke deficit to Arizona's Triston Covington entering the finals, then sank an estimated 30-footer on the playoff hole (No. 1) to win the title in a field of 17.
The temporary layout at OSU-Marion had the first hole going across the foot bridge that spanned the narrower middle part of the lake. No. 2 hugged one side of the lake, while the No. 9 basket was placed near the No. 1, across the other side of the lake from the tee area, for all but the youngest and oldest players. The No. 9 tee area for 19-under and men's advanced divisions invited players to try clearing the lake, while other groups could opt to lay up before throwing over the lake or try an even longer tee shot to the other side.
In the 16-under division that started with 20 entries, Finland's Seppo Paju trailed Andrew Coggin, who plays in the same club as Wiggins, by a stroke entering the final hole. Paju decided he had to clear the lake in order to pick up the stroke, but his tee shot careened far left, only to get the luckiest of flights and bounces and have his disc come to rest on the in-play foot bridge.
Paju then tossed up near the basket got his 3, while Coggin missed his putt after clearing the lake with his second shot. On the playoff hole, Paju sank his bride putt after Coggin rimmed off with his.
The men's advanced division was the tournament's largest, with nearly 200 narrowed to 64 for the semifinals.
Other winners in divisions that had more than three entries included:
* Advanced masters (88 entries): Michigan's Joe Levell at -34, four strokes better than Minneapolis' Bill Cary.
* Advanced masters women (9 entries): Pennsylvania's Marie Fry at +67.
* Advanced grandmasters (77 entries): Canada's Steve Brawdsley at -38, two strokes better than Dave Wert (Va.) and Paul Wright (Wash.)
* Advanced grandmasters women (5 entries): Colorado's Sue Lande at +52.
* Advanced senior grandmasters: Ron Engebretson (Texas) at -18 for an eight-stroke win.