2002: Am World Champion!

BY: Jeff Panis

He left as one of two competitors representing Colorado and BADCO’s own Jay Burghardt returned from the 2002 PDGA World Amateur Championships in Miami, Florida as the Master Division Champion! Here’s more from JB:

So, how does it feel to be a world am champ?

(JB) Well, even though I had lead through a lot of the tourney, I never really felt I had it until the second to the last hole, Then a smile just came to my face and a total body relaxation came over me. And when the final two-foot putt fell, It felt spectacular!

How long have you been playing disc golf?

(JB) I first started playing “Frisbee golf” back in the late 70’s. I didn’t start using discs until about two years ago, when I started to play more regularly.

What’s the formula to your success?

(JB) I find there are a couple of things I try to always work on. First of all, I play one hole at a time. If I have a bad hole, I try and forget about it. Secondly, a couple of the players that I played against at the Worlds commented to me about my course management, how I didn’t take chances unless I needed to, making it very difficult for them to catch me once I got the lead. I play a fairly even keel game and rarely shoot more than a stroke or two over par, and rarely more than a couple of strokes under par for a round. I will take chances if I need to, but one very seldom needs to take the amount of chances that are usually taken. So I dont give back a lot of strokes from my own mistakes.

What do you feel is the strongest element of your game?

(JB) I think my mental approach is probably my strongest element. You have to know when to press and know when to calm down and watch the other players fall by the wayside. Although for this tournament my putting was on. I seldom missed a put under 25ft and it kept the pressure on everyone around me.

What’s your favorite disc and why?

(JB) I usually use the Discraft Z XS for my long drives/overhand/thumber/trick shots. I get a lot of work from it and with the Z- plastic I don’t have to replace it often. I have a new midrange I just started using and it got me an ace at the Worlds. The Storm. It flies very straight and long, especially for low tunnel shots, and I just love it. And for my putting, I use the Aviar for short puts, and the Aero for longer putts.

Do you have any special routine in preparation to tournaments?

(JB) Practice. I will play as much as I can before the tournament starts. Often I will play an entire 18 holes before it begins. This gets my entire game warmed up from putting, driving and getting out of trouble. This also gets my mind in a frame of making shots.

How do you plan to build on your success after becoming an am champion?

(JB) Well, I will now move on to the Pro Master division. I have set goals for myself already and hope to win an event by the end of the year. I know I still have a lot to learn and will continue to try and pickup new shots.

What’s your best advice to competitive disc golfers trying to achieve what you have done?

(JB) First, play your game. Don’t worry about what the next guy is doing (I know this is difficult because I struggle with it sometimes as well). Practice, Practice, Practice. I was playing 18 holes everyday, all year long, until the Worlds. I know everyone doesn’t have access like I do with Applewood disc golf course. But every chance you get, Practice. I play out in the street in front of my house. When I get the mail each night, I take a disc, and throw it at the mailbox. I throw at light poles, park benches. It is so important to keep your acquired skills sharp and playing once a week wont do it. Again, Practice.

What’s your favorite breakfast before a tournament?

(JB) No question here. I love the Denny’s Grand slam breakfast before a tourney. Two pancakes, (butter only), two sausage links, two bacon strips, two eggs (over medium) and a large glass of water. I had that five times while at the AmWorlds competition. I need all those carbs and calories to burn off during the round.

Any additional comments?

(JB) First of all, thanks to everyone who was checking my progress throughout the tourney. It is nice to know I had a bunch of people pulling for me 2000 miles away. It is time for me to move up. The whole AmWorlds experience was a blast. I know its a long time to be away, and to be honest, its a pricey week, but if you have a chance go do it. It is so much fun and meeting a lot of good players just made it that much more enjoyable. Thank you everyone.

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