A year after coming up two spots short of a victory, Mesa resident Anthony Barela bounced back to take first place at the Professional Disc Golf Association Amateur & Junior Disc Golf World Championships earlier this month.
Barela, who traveled to Emporia, Kan., to compete in the tournament from July 6 through 13, defeated eight other golfers to win the event’s under-13 bracket by 17 strokes. He finished the tournament 20 strokes under par, and was one of three competitors in his age bracket to complete the course under par.
“It was super exciting getting to win,” he said.
The 12-year-old Barela is already something of an old hand at the sport — he’s played the game since he was 7 years old and travels to 10 to 12 tournaments a year both within Arizona and outside the state. He got into disc golf by watching his father and grandfather play, and began to dive into the sport as he got older.
“I just like watching the disc fly,” he said.
That’s something he’s rather talented at doing, as he launched a 510-foot drive during a long-drive competition held during the tournament, according to a press release. What sets him apart from other disc golfers isn’t necessarily his prodigious power; rather, Barela said the aspect of the game he shines at the most is his short game.
Like the rest of disc golf, much of a person’s putting technique is dependent on the weather conditions he or she faces on a given day. The wind, he said, can cause havoc on a person’s putts — done using a special disc weighing between 130 and 180 grams, he said — which can have a detrimental effect on a player’s game. It proved to be particularly true in Emporia, as Barela said the course was “super windy,” and also featured more out of bounds areas than the courses he plays in Mesa.
Given his overall score though, it doesn’t appear the wind played too large of a role in his performance, which is due largely to the amount of preparation time he put in before the tournament.
“This year, I went out and practiced just putting,” he said.
The extra putting practice was part of a larger game plan to improve his rank from the year prior, when he finished third overall and was “disappointed” by the end result. He didn’t practice all that much prior to the 2012 tournament, which Barela said was held in North Carolina, and he rectified that issue this year.
Despite the intense amount of practice time, Barela said he never really grows tired of his time on the course because he spends much of his disc-golf time — whether it’s traveling on the road or practicing at home — with his family.
“I just go out there and have fun,” he said.
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