BLACKSBURG, Virginia (WDBJ) – It was the disc golf swing that could be heard around the world.
James Conrad’s 247-foot birdie last Saturday in Ogden, Utah would have been impressive without context. But at the final hole of the Pro World Championships, Conrad had to sink it to force a playoff and made perhaps the best shot ever.
“The fact that I was able to play five rounds of really good disc golf and be there on the home straight is an achievement that I’m proud of in and of itself,” said Konrad. “And the fact that I was able to sink that shot and force extra time makes it just over the top. It was very special, you know. “
The shot sent the 1,400 bleachers into a frenzy, and for good reason.
Conrad says the response has been overwhelming.
“When you have hundreds of people watching and doing something amazing or when I do a good putt or something and just hear that everyone is really excited, it’s such a special feeling,” he said. “The silence in the anticipation as I direct the recording, so that so many people are just concentrating on what I’m doing, and then the outburst of emotions, just amazing.”
Growing up with his father in the Army, Conrad’s family moved around during his childhood but settled in the New River Valley in 2007, where James graduated from Blacksburg High School.
His first professional win came in 2008 in Rocky Mount.
“It’s been as close as anywhere since then,” said Conrad. “I haven’t spent much time in Virginia in the past five or so years. I definitely spend some time on vacation visiting family and stuff, but Virginia still feels like home. “
His miraculous shot made it to number one in SportsCenter’s top 10 games that night, and Conrad defeated his opponent and Lynchburg resident Paul McBeth in the playoffs to win his first world championship in a tournament in which two of the best presented were from the Commonwealth.
“It’s really cool for Virginia and for the Virginia Disc golfers and everything else,” he said. “I know that they are all very proud of us. Paul and I, we never really spend time in Virginia, but we both obviously have roots there and I think we’re both really happy to encounter this area and we both think it’s a really good area for disc golf. The country is beautiful and there are a lot of good people. “
But not only Virginia, Conrad and his competitors on the PDGA Tour bring their sport to a new level.
He says the audience reaction and attention his shot has drawn over the past week only helps further develop the game he has been playing professionally since 2006.
“If a street performer is on the street, he could do something really amazing, and if no one is looking, passers-by will hardly notice it,” explained Conrad. “But if he gets a small crowd of 10 or 20 people watching and excited about what the performer is doing, it just attracts a bigger crowd, so I think we’re going to see some of this phenomenon.
“If we’ve thrown great coverage of a shot like me, and the coverage is good enough to be shown on SportsCenter and stuff like that, I think that’s a big step towards growth and these guys are working really hard to to make them. ” some good disc golf content and it definitely helps. “
And as for his career, the win itself confirmed Conrad’s rise to the disc golf ranks, with his stroke heard around the world serving as the culmination of the work it took to get here.
“To be able to say as a competitor that I have stepped onto the world’s largest stage in our sport and have asserted myself is a great feeling,” he said.
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