MISSOULA – The Zootown Open brings some of the best disc golfers to Missoula every year. Half of the world’s top 10 ranked women and a couple of the top 15 men battle for cash at Blue Mountain and Linda Vista. The roster also includes a world champion who never dreamed he’d earn that title.
The Zootown Open features top touring pros and locals who play for fun. Jon Graff is both.
“I’ve been playing since 1992,” explained Graff. “My son was in high school. And he had some friends that were playing up at Blue Mountain and they invited me along. I had done a lot of hiking and backpacking. And at some point I just kind of phased that out and started taking discs with me.”
Graff took the the sport in his 40s. By his late 50s, he started playing in pro tournaments. He competed in the PDGA Pro Masters World Championships a handful of times, finishing 9th in 2009, in the 60 and over division. But didn’t contend for a title his last couple of trips to the big showcase. So when he moved up to the 70 and over division last year, Graff expected much of the same.
“They take the top 40 percent for the final nine, and I was just hoping to make it into that,” admitted Graff.
He did much more. Graff’s first round in Kansas City was his best. And after four rounds and the final nine, he was never challenged and won the title by four shots.
“I played a little bit better than I normally do,” said Graff. “Just happened to hit my putts and not make too many mistakes until the very end. And it was too late by then to lose it.”
Now Jon Graff can call himself a world champion. But you won’t hear him say it.
“My wife is pretty excited,” laughed Graff. “She’s the one that usually tells people about it. And I don’t.”
Graff competed in the 50+ pro division at Blue Mountain Saturday. He is tied for fifth place after two rounds.
The top players tee off the final round of the Zootown Open at Linda Vista Golf Course Sunday afternoon.