Great Play, Dramatic Finishes Define 2023 Virginia FlingGolf Open
October 25, 20236 min read
The final stop on World League FlingGolf's 2023 New Swarm Tour turned out to be one of its best. Across all divisions and formats, there was stellar play and dramatic finals that in some cases came down to the final hole. The tournament was held over three days at both courses of the Massanutten Resort outside of Harrisonburg, VA.
Players and Teams made it in from 18 different states to compete in the Individual Tournament across three divisions (Men's, Women's and Senior's) and the Teams Championship across all divisions. There was also a Junior tournament and putting competition on Friday night.
With one of the deepest competitive fields to date, the level of play by the WLF's Top Ranked Players was strong, while several new and recent additions to the WLF made their mark on the tournament. We had 13 newcomers in the field, and an amazing seven of them made the finals in their respective divisions. It is a great indicator of how this young sport is thriving and how strong the competition will be in 2024.
On Saturday, the Individual Tournament took place at the Mountain Greens course at Massanutten. Known for its treacherous slope and tricky fairways, course strategy was as important as strength to score well.
The Senior Championship. In only its second official tournament as a separate division, the Senior division continued to expand and is poised to add a significant amount of new members in 2024. At the top of the leaderboard, the defending champion from the New England Open, "Octajon" Jonathan Bellingham, was in a back-and-forth affair with Tab "Holeshot" Thompson. They were tied after 7 holes until Octajon pulled away for his second win in the Seniors Division with a 7-stroke victory over Holeshot. Jeff "Waterman" Sommerfield came in 3rd place.
Seniors "Holeshot", "Waterman" and "OctaJon" at Mountain Greens
The Women's Championship. After the 18 hole preliminary round, three women qualified for the 9-hole finals: 3x champion Krysta "Birdie of Prey" Smith, Christina "SommerFling" Sommerfield and Rosie "Mamacita" Flores. However, Krysta found herself in unfamiliar territory compared to her earlier victories - one-stroke behind SommerFling and having to come from behind in the finals. She and Christina traded strokes for several holes and were dead even heading into the 6th hole. Birdie of Prey was able to Reggie the hole and also beat SommerFling by a stroke to take a two-stroke lead that she would never relinquish. Getting Reggies on each of the last 4 holes sealed up her 4th Individual Championship in the Women's Division and put a final cap on an amazing year of play. Meanwhile, Mamacita played her game and consistently made up ground throughout the finals. After a crucial Reggie-Par on the Par 3 8th Hole, she was able to nab 2nd place over SommerFling by one stroke.
4X Women's Champion Krysta "Birdie of Prey" with her son and Junior competitor Jesse "Zion Lion" Castano and Player Host Michael "Cutter" Alexiou
The Men's Championship.At the end of the preliminary round, with a tie at 10th place, 11 men moved on to the Final Round: Austin "Showtime" Ebersole led the field, followed by Sam "Scantron" Scannell, Brooks "Big Country" Medford, Zac "The Mountaineer" Mulvey, Jake "Island Hopper" Anderson, Neil "Tin Man" Little, Bobby "Big Dawg" Newton, Titus "Par-T" Harter, Robert "Big Mac" Maclay, Obediah "Backflip Birdie" Harter and Harrisonburg local and tournament co-host, Adam "Podfather" Copeland. Although a lot of the men were familiar faces in the finals, there were a couple of notable achievements. Titus and Obediah Harter both made the finals for the first time, becoming the first set of brothers to make the finals (matching the achievement earlier in the year by Britt Morrison and Brooke Ebersole as the first pair of sisters). Robert Maclay also made the finals in his first WLF tournament!
Showtime headed into the finals with a 3-stroke lead over Scantron, with Big Country and The Mountaineer, 2 and 3 strokes back from that, respectively. Things got interesting very quickly, with Scantron gaining strokes on the first two holes, including a 3-stroke swing on Hole 2 that put him in the lead by a stroke. He grew the lead to 2-strokes after a Reggie-Par on the 4th hole and held that lead going into the 7th hole. But the #1 Ranked Men's Player continued to fight and Showtime clawed back to even by the 9th hole with two clutch Reggie-Pars. Needing to stem the bleeding, Scantron unleashed a monster shot off the tee but his "turbo mode" ended up being too much and he found a sand trap near the green and was not able to make a Reggie. Showtime was able to find the green in 2, and two putts later became the first 3x Men's Champion with Scantron taking 2nd place. Big Country maintained his position in 3rd place throughout the finals, while Backflip Birdie, Obediah Harter, lit up the last 9 holes with a scorching net 28. That was 4 strokes better than anyone in the finals and moved him up from a tie for 10th place to 4th place overall. Island Hopper rounded out the top 5, with The Mountaineer, Par-T, Tin Man, Big Mac, Big Dawg and the Podfather taking the next 6 places.
3X Men's Champion Austin "Showtime" Ebersole
Teams Championship. On Sunday the competition switched to the Woodstone Meadows course for Teams Competition. This fast paced, alternate-shot format featured 26 teams competing for the top prize. After a brisk morning of play, ties within the bracket meant that 8 teams would make it to the finals in the afternoon. With only 8 strokes separating the top and bottom teams, and 4 strokes separating 6 of the 8 teams, it became clear that anything could happen. Normally atop the leaderboard heading into the finals, APEX FC found themselves 5 strokes back and in 5th place, with their chance of a season sweep of the Teams Event in serious jeopardy. Defending VA FlingGolf Open Teams Champion, KEYSTONE FC was in 2nd place, just two strokes back from the leaders. That team, consisting of Brian "Doc" Sanders and Tab "Holeshot" Thompson, was BIG AIR, which carded a 64 (-1) to top the leaderboard. The only mixed-division team in the finals, the duo were playing for the first time together on Sunday. FURY FS, FIRESTORM, MO BROS, BROOKLAND and MAJESTICKS rounded out the finalists.
Playing in the same group, BIG AIR and KEYSTONE FC, Reggied the first two holes but neither was able to sink a putt to change the leaderboard. Meanwhile, APEX FC started with an early surge and clawed back 2 strokes in the first 3 holes from BIG AIR's lead. But then BIG AIR settled in with a couple of Reggie Pars, including one on the pivotal Par 4 5th Hole. Needing a big shot and facing a 165 yard approach shot over a creek to an elevated green, Doc played a slight fade and landed it 3 feet from the pin. With bogeys on that pivotal 5th hole, APEX FC and KEYSTONE FC could not keep pace with BIG AIR, and after a Reggie on the difficult 9th hole, BIG AIR secured the victory. APEX FC was able to climb into 2nd place, but had to watch another team don the coveted "Team Bling". FURY FS never relinquished 3rd Place, while MO BROS and KEYSTONE FC rounded out the top 5.
Team "Big Air" with WLF Commissioner Pruellage
Junior Tournament. For the second time this year, a Junior Tournament was held on opening night to kick things off in style. Seven kids, ranging in age from 9-14 years old participated, using tee placements based on their age. Latham "Flingslayer" Copeland came out on top, edging Peyton "P-Rizzle" Eckert by three strokes. The spirited competition required every bit of sunlight to complete, with the final hole played by phone-light!
Latham "FlingSlayer" Copeland sinking a key putt in the Juniors
Other notable honors in the Tournament included Big Mac taking the Top Men's Newcomer and Amy Lewis nabbing the Top Women's Newcomer, while Matthew McKeown took the Top Military award, also in his first tournament.
We'd like to give a big thank you to Brett Mowbray, PGA and his crew at Massanutten Resort (the birthplace of Resort FlingGolf) for making our stay and play as seamless as possible as well as our Player Hosts Michael "Cutter" Alexiou and Adam "Podfather" Copeland for their local organizational efforts.
That is a wrap for the 2023 WLF Season and New Swarm Tour, which started in San Diego in February and wound its way through Delaware, Colorado, New England and here in Virginia. Stay tuned for the 2024 WLF Schedule!