Last year at the West Coast College Open in Monterey, Calif., the UO Disc Golf Club didn’t win a match, finishing dead last in the tournament. This time around, it was a different story for a program that not long ago was struggling for its survival. Paul Fraser and Cory Higdon both joined in February and have watched the roster quadruple in size. They were part of a teamwide effort to not only win a match but also win the Open. Despite being deep and talented, that they had this much success took them by surprise.
“It surprised us a little bit,” Fraser says. “When we were driving back, every once in a while Cory and I, sitting in the front of the van, would be like, ‘We just won that thing. That really just happened.’”
Their win ended the supremacy of host school CSU Monterey Bay, a team that entered having won eight of the last nine opens. In the first year of the match-play format, UO faced off against the juggernaut in the final and proved they too were a force to be reckoned with, prevailing in a playoff. Nonetheless, it was still an upset of epic proportions.
“It’s David vs. Goliath, round 2, and David hit the gym,” Higdon says. David’s win awarded the team a bye come Nationals in March.
“That was a huge thing for us, earning that bye,” says Zach Schwartz, club president. “When we went to the finals [of the WCC Open], we just settled into what was actually going on and decided then that we had an awesome chance to put our name on the trophy.”
Higdon, UO’s number-one seed, beat a Monterey opponent who statistically scores a stroke or two better on average over 18 holes. The underdog status continued across the board for all six UO team members, but the success is a testament to just how much the team has improved, grown and come together.
“We went to Monterey and came back a family,” Higdon says. “There was no power struggle,” added Fraser.
The team suffered a letdown this past Sunday in Cottage Grove, losing by three strokes to Central Oregon. Part of an ongoing tournament, this match was structured like Nationals, with two rounds of singles and a round of doubles. Despite the loss, the team is still in good position and is rightfully setting the bar high.
“We are the best team on the West Coast,” Higdon says. “And in March we have another chance to prove that.”