Climo cruises to championship

Ken Climo won the U.S. Disc Golf Championship at Winthrop on Saturday.
Ken Climo won the U.S. Disc Golf Championship at Winthrop on Saturday.

Ken Climo proved in no uncertain terms Saturday that he is like the nickname says, "The Champ" of the Professional Disc Golfer's Association.

Climo beat down the field with his third straight round in the 50s and won the 2007 U.S. Disc Golf Championship by 11 shots.

It was Climo's fifth title in nine tries at the Winthrop Gold Course in nine years and earned him the $15,000 first prize, a record for the PGDA.

Climo, who has 203 wins in his 19-year professional career, opened with a 63 on Wednesday and trailed first-day leader Ken Franks by five strokes. Then he took control with rounds of 58 on Thursday and 56 on Friday.

When the final group got to the first tee Saturday afternoon, everyone knew that they, like so many times before when Climo was in the field, were playing for second place.

"He's a disc god," runner-up Avery Jenkins said minutes after signing his card in the trailer just off the 18th green. "The man shot back-to-back 56s on this course. I would have shot like a 48 to have a chance and that wasn't going to happen."

Jenkins turned in rounds of 63, 60, 61 and 60 to finish with a total of 244. Steve Rico, Nathan Doss, Eric McCabe and David Feldberg finished at 250. Franks, who shot himself out of contention with a 70 on Thursday, was at 262.

Even Climo, a 12-time Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) World Champion, was surprised that he strung together three straight rounds in the 50s on a course that's ranked among the toughest on the PDGA tour.

"I didn't see that coming," Climo said as he watched the distance throwing contest behind The Shack. "I had a big lead when today's round started, and when you have a big lead it's easy to stay relaxed. That's when you shoot your best rounds. But no, that score was a surprise."

Climo had five birdies on the front nine to build a nine-stroke lead. But it was his back nine that had his playing partners and a large following shaking their heads in amazement and disbelief.

Climo had one eagle and eight birdies. The eagle came on the 12th hole when his 400-foot approach shot landed 3 feet from the hole.

The fact that the 39-year-old, seven-time PDGA player of the year was focused and in his own zone wasn't lost on Jenkins.

"He was dialed in," Jenkins said. "There was no shaking him. You could see the confidence and focus he had on every shot."

Climo, who had three bogeys in four rounds, said he went to the course Saturday morning with a specific game plan in mind for the final 18 holes.

"This course can hit you with big numbers," Climo said. "I was just trying to think out every shot and not have a big number."

Asked what he planned to do with the $15,000 check, the Clearwater, Fla., native smiled and said: "What else, I'm going to Disney World."