What a difference a year makes.
Kenneth Lee, who suffered a disappointing one-throw loss a year ago for the Professional Disc Golf Association world championships, captured this year’s event last Saturday in sudden death of the Pro Masters 60+ title in Kansas City, Mo.
“I was down a shot late in the final round,” said the life-long Manteca resident who battled Rick Voakes on Bowling Green, KY – he was trying to win his 10th world championship.
Lee caught a break and tied Voakes, with the two co-leaders finishing minus-12 under (308) at the conclusion of regulation play.
It stayed tied through five holes of sudden death.
On the sixth hole, Lee, who was caddied by his brother Rob Lee – he, too, is a professional in the Pro Masters 70+, and placed third in the world championships – crushed an uphill drive while Voakes hit a tree and saw his drive slide downhill, thus, making it a difficult shot.
“I laid up from there,” said Lee, who clinched the title with an easy one-foot putt.
He received $1,800 in prize money for the victory, with Voakes taking second ($1,225) and David Greenwell of Louisville finishing third ($900) with a minus-2 under.
The PDGA world championship event took place at Waterworks Park’s disc golf course – the 18-hole course is described as a unique blend of carved and manicured fairways with difficult elevations while providing a view of the city skyline.
Lee, who is a 1975 graduate of Manteca High, has been a professional since 1998. He rates Waterworks Park among his Top 5, having played the disc-golf course three times.
He didn’t take up disc golf until his 40s. His brother Rob introduced him to the sport.
“We always played Frisbee golf growing up,” said Kenneth Lee, who is sponsored by Innova Disc Golf.
Lee grew up on a two-acre property along Woodward Avenue, where he made his own Frisbee disc course – he has one today at his Manteca home, calling it “Sunflower Ridge.”
His brother played disc golf in Texas and was home for a visit.
“He took me to Stockton (Oak Grove Regional Park) to play for the first time,” Kenneth Lee recalled.
While he lost to his older brother that day, he found to sport to his liking and, by 1998, became professional.
Lee has 103 wins to his name and has earned over $40,000 just counting the major tournaments.
He lost last year’s world championships to Greenwell, but bounced back with the win in Kansas City.
Lee is already looking forward to next year’s event in Vermont.