We’re going, going / back, back…
May 11, 2023 by Justin Westfall in Preview with comments
Despite having an off week, players making the trip over to Stockton, California, for the OTB Open and the start of the west coast swing had minimal time to rest and recover. The trip from Jonesboro, Arkansas, is over 2,000 miles, and for those traveling by car, van, or RV, that requires at least three days of driving across the United States. For those willing to make the trip, the added pressure of making cash to cover travel expenses could either be anxiety-inducing — or exactly the competitive boost needed to play up to their potential.
While injury concerns loom for the 2-time and reigning OTB champion Paige Pierce, reigning MPO champion Simon Lizotte will be returning to the course that revitalized his career and eventually led to signing a $10 million deal this past offseason. Coming off his third win of the season, Calvin Heimburg looks to keep it rolling in Stockton on a track that he has fared well on each of the past two years. Before the event starts, a legal battle could allow 2022 runner-up Natalie Ryan to compete in the FPO division on the Elite Series for the first time since the PDGA and DGPT updated their eligibility for gender-based divisions.
|2022 – OTB Open||ES||Simon Lizotte||Paige Pierce|
|2021 – OTB Open||ES||Eagle McMahon||Paige Pierce|
|2020 – SFO||DGPT||Canceled||Canceled|
|2019 – SFO||DGPT||Ricky Wysocki||Catrina Allen|
|2018 – SFO||DGPT||Paul McBeth||Sarah Hokom|
Four Things We’ll Be Watching
1. Calvin Heimburg has been the clear front-runner for Player of the Year through the first third of the season and now comes to yet another course that suits his game. Heimburg finished 4th at the OTB Open in 2021 and was the runner-up last year, falling two strokes shy of Simon Lizotte’s winning score. 2022 Player of the Year Ricky Wysocki also had two Elite Series wins to this point last season and did not earn his third win until mid-August. While another victory for Calvin would clearly put all of the momentum in his favor, a win from the likes of Gannon Buhr or Simon Lizotte would quickly close the gap and open up the conversation.
2. For the second year in a row, the FPO layout at Swenson Park has seen a drastic reduction in terms of overall distance and difficulty. Originally measuring more than 10,000 feet, the FPO layout was shortened by over 350 feet for last year’s event. Now the course has seen an even bigger adjustment, with an extra 550 feet of distance removed. Paige Pierce’s big arm helped win two consecutive OTB Open titles, but now players like Ohn Scoggins and Missy Gannon should have a far easier time reaching holes and collecting birdies.
3. Since dropping from the Jonesboro Open, Paige Pierce has been doing physical therapy and received dry needling treatment for an injured shoulder. Pierce posted an update on Monday, saying that treatment is going well, and while she still feels inflammation, she will travel to Stockton and hopes to play this weekend. Ricky Wysocki, who has been dealing with a Lyme Disease related injury all season, has already withdrawn from this weekend’s event. This will be the 4th Elite Series event that Wysocki has missed. Players earn points for their 8 best finishes at the 13 ES events, so two more withdrawals would put Ricky in jeopardy of qualifying for the tour championship.
4. Late last year, the PDGA and subsequently the DGPT updated their eligibility for gender-based divisions, effectively blocking transgender women like Natalie Ryan from competing in the FPO division at Major, Elite and Silver events. Ryan’s lawyers have filed for a temporary restraining order against the PDGA and DGPT, which, if granted, would allow her to compete in the FPO division at the OTB Open this weekend. There was a hearing held in Sacramento yesterday and a ruling is expected by midday Thursday. Ryan finished in 2nd place at last year’s event, and later went on to win two Elite Series events. Since the updated policy was put in place, Ryan has still been able to compete in the FPO division at A-tier and lower events. Natalie won the Throw Down the Mountain earlier this spring, and just last week won the 303 Open in Colorado.
Located on a traditional golf course, the Swenson Park disc golf course does a tremendous job of feeling like it’s anywhere but. Designed by Leonard Muise, the course utilizes the tree lines between fairways, several water features, and multiple golf fairways for single holes to create a track that never feels restricted by the traditional golf layout. Despite 17 holes from the 2022 course still in play, all but four have seen some type of notable change this year.
The 2 meter rule will not be in effect for any holes; last year, there were five holes in which the 2 meter rule applied. Hole 16 from last year’s layout has been eliminated, and the previous hole 1 has now been broken in half to play as two separate holes. The FPO division has three new tee placements and four new baskets that work to reduce the length of certain holes. Two holes on the MPO layout have moved mandatories from farther down the fairway to up near the teepad, forcing players to throw a straighter teeshot, and taking a wide hyzer out of play. Holes 5 and 16 have added OB along the fairway, restricting players into much narrower landing zones. Hole 12, which is a Par 3 in MPO and Par 4 in FPO, will now play as a more traditional island green. Players are now required to putt from a drop zone directly at the water for any MPO teeshot that goes OB, or any FPO upshot from the fairway that goes OB.
Here’s the full caddie book.
2023 MPO: 11,388 Feet Par 66
2022 MPO: 11,727 Feet Par 66
2023 FPO: 9,113 Feet Par 67
2022 FPO: 9,678 Feet Par 68
Pack the sunscreen and an extra water bottle: the forecast is looking hot and sunny throughout the weekend.
Friday: Mostly sunny with highs in the mid 80s. Winds 10-15mph.
Saturday: Sunny with highs in the lower 90s. Winds 5-10mph.
Sunday: Sunny with highs in the mid 90s. Winds 10-15mph.