Klein keeps getting better
January 26, 2022 by Ultiworld Disc Golf Staff in Awards with comments
Few players had as much hype going into 2021 than did Kyle Klein, and the Michigan native fulfilled his promise. A stellar season earned Klein the 2021 Ultiworld Disc Golf Men’s Breakout Player of the Year award.
Klein is no stranger to the big stage, having fairly recently won both the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship and 2019 Next Generation Tour National Championship. Good showings at Maple Hill and Winthrop in 2020 set Klein up for a big 2021 and the results followed.
His first professional A-tier win came over a top-rated field, and an Elite Series victory was in short order. Klein’s first full-season touring also led to a rise in the DGPT tour standings.
Klein is doing everything asked of him as a player, and succeeding at each level. With the consistent improvements each season, Klein is poised to reach the elite level of talent and may be knocking on the 1050 club by the end of 2022.
Kyle Klein: 2021 vs 2020
|Rating High||1039 (Current)||1028 (Sep)|
(1 Elite Series)
|Elite Series/Majors Podiums||3||0|
|Elite Series/Majors Top 10s||8||4|
|DGPT Tour Ranking||6||14|
The first Elite Series win of Klein’s career came in a playoff over BPoY candidate Andrew Marwede at the venerable Idlewild Open, and a Silver Series win at the Mid America Open is worthy of praise.
Close calls at the Great Lakes Open and USDGC say as much about Klein’s maturing game as the W’s do. In both he pushed two of the sport’s top three players to the limit, executing pressure-filled shots with precision in crunch time.
Klein improved statistically from 2020 to 2021 in every UDisc Live category with the exception of parked percentage. He parked holes one percentage point less year-over-year from 15% to 14%, but remained ranked 10th overall in qualifying players. Those incremental improvements across the board are the difference in making a podium and challenging for the win.
“Kyle looked the part in 2020, but he really looked the part in 2021. He took the W at Idlewild, which ranks more highly than other tournaments in my books, after a early-season breakthrough on the Silver Series. Add to those wins a respectable top 10 at his first Pro Worlds and close losses at DGLO and USDGC. Klein is here to stay.”
“Consider him announced, is Kyle Klein a top 5 player now? While a win at Mid-America isn’t sparkling, taking down Idlewild in dramatic fashion and becoming a Discmania staple is certainly a sign that he can play with the best in the sport.”
“If Klein is eligible, though, I think you have to go Klein. He has moved into the top tier.”
Others Receiving Votes
Andrew Marwede: “Marwede jumped out and impressed. A forehand dominant player who has huge growth potential just by improving their backhand is a rare thing to find at this level. Seemed to get better when he played events in succession, which could point to a game and mindset built for the full time tour. Solid putter, marketable, and also could have done even better without some of the most snakebit, awful bounces and rollaways I’ve ever seen in big spots.”
Gavin Rathbun: “Gavin Rathbun went from having no top 10 finishes on tour in 2020 to three at Elite Series events and a lot more at Silver Series tournaments in 2021. He jumped from 30th in the DGPT standings last year to 18th in 2021, was regularly on lead card coverage, and did all of that despite missing much of the back half of the season due to a shoulder injury.”