2021 USDGC & TPWDGC Preview: Wet Weather Welcomes Pros To Winthrop

On a course with myriad holes that can ruin a round, who will persevere?

Hole 6 at Winthrop Arena. Photo: PDGA

Coverage of the 2021 USDGC and TPWDGC is presented by Skybreed Discs.

The United States Disc Golf Championship at Winthrop University is an institution. A week-long disc golf festival in Rock Hill that bridges a generational gap that has gotten larger in recent years. With the addition of the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship, a full field of Open Women’s competitors rounds out the event to make it more inclusive than ever.

What’s as big of a tradition as USDGC itself is the hand wringing beforehand. This year fans mocked the addition of five “driving posts” off the tee on hole 9, and the price for an event-only pay-per-view, a practice that has been happening for several years.

Fortunately, the PDGA Major always seems to deliver in terms of on-course drama. The last two versions almost saw final round comebacks as the leaders and eventual winners struggled to hang on. Over par rounds are common from top-rated pros. All those added elements of extra difficulty, as contrived as they sometimes seem, often pay off.

Now that FPO has its own annual showcase at Winthrop with the TPWDGC, even if it doesn’t hold the same status as a Major, we get to see another side to the Arena course and a new set of characters write their own stories on the course.

The close to the regular season was unpredictable in its results, but this week offers players a chance to leave a mark on 2021. Do we see a first-time Major winner crowned, like we have in four of the last five USDGCs? Or does another piece of hardware get added to an already stacked cabinet?

Past USDGC Winners

  Winner Runner Up
2020 Chris Dickerson Calvin Heimburg
2019 James Conrad Jeremy Koling & Nikko Locastro
2018 Paul McBeth James Conrad
2017 Nate Sexton Ricky Wysocki
2016 Jeremy Koling Nikko Locastro
2015 Paul McBeth Ricky Wysocki
2014 Will Schusterick Paul McBeth & JohnE McCray
2013 Steve Brinster Barry Schultz & Steve Rico
2012 Will Schusterick Ricky Wysocki
2011 N/A
2010 Will Schusterick Nikko Locastro
2009 Nikko Locastro Dave Feldberg
2008 Nate Doss Avery Jenkins
2007 Ken Climo Avery Jenkins
2006 Barry Schultz Brian Schweberger
2005 Dave Feldberg Scott Martin
2004 Ken Climo Darrell Nodland
2003 Barry Schultz Ken Climo
2002 Ken Climo Barry Schultz
2001 Barry Schultz Ken Climo
2000 Ken Climo Al ‘Sugar’ Schack
1999 Ken Climo Al ‘Sugar’ Schack

What We’re Watching

  • Ricky Wysocki is no. 1 in our Power Rankings yet again, still calls South Carolina “home” on his PDGA page, and has been close to winning USDGC in the past, so is 2021 finally the year? With wet weather in the forecast — again — we may see Raincoat Ricky rise to the occasion.
  • It will be almost two months since Paige Pierce last won a traditional format event, but no other player in the TPWDGC field has as much experience on Winthrop as she does. Pierce is never one to back down from the added pressure of a big stage, so even if it’s not a Major for the FPO division, she’ll probably be at her best as she takes on the Arena.
  • Another season with rain in the forecast. Straight through Saturday looks to be soggy, and while it certainly has added drama in recent years, it also can lead to unfortunate bad breaks you hate to see at an event of this prestige.

GRIP6 Pick 6 Locks Of The Week

Can you believe Calvin Heimburg has only won two traditional format events this season? He got a nice payday at the DGPT Match Play Championship, but he’d probably prefer a U.S. championship ring to go with those 12 other top five finishes. Heimburg doesn’t rely on a sidearm as much as some other players who find success here, but he’ll have plenty of open air to attack with his directness. He also should have a chip on his shoulder from a flaming hot final round last year that almost ended in a victory.

Without much history to go on at Winthrop for the FPO field, it’s easy to default to last year’s champ, Paige Pierce, who also has several years experience as an invited participant and Monday qualifier for USDGC. We’ll ride the hot hand, though, and go with Hailey King as the player to watch. She had one of her lowest rated rounds of her year on Winthrop last year while playing 32 strokes worse than Pierce, yet we’ve seen King’s maturity grow throughout the season.

The Course

USDGC: Rounds 1 & 4 – par 66, 9,886 feet; Rounds 2 & 3 – par 66, 9,788 feet
TPWDGC: Rounds 1 & 4 – par 68, 8,741 feet; Rounds 2 & 3 – par 68, 8,746 feet

If you like watching the disc fly, you’ll like Winthrop. If you like watching players hit narrow targets and landing zones, you’ll like Winthrop. If you prefer woods golf and hate “artificial” OB, then maybe you don’t love Winthrop so much. Sometimes called the US Sidearm Championships, the course traditionally plays well for a lefty backhand or righty forehand player.

Here Are The Course Changes For The 2021 USDGC & TPWDGC

How To Watch

How To Watch The 2021 USDGC And Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship

  1. Bennett Wineka

    Benn started playing disc golf in the ’90s but has somehow never gotten any better. He lives in Decatur, Georgia and cares too much about Atlanta United and UNC basketball. Email him at bennett@ultiworld.com

TAGGED: PDGA Pro, 2021 TPWDGC, 2021 USDGC, Major, PDGA Major, Presented by Skybreed Discs, Preview, Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship, TPWDGC, United States Disc Golf Championship, USDGC, Winthrop Arena, Winthrop Gold

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