Some surprising stats!
May 24, 2022 by Justin Westfall in Analysis with comments
The Disc Golf Pro Tour returned to action this past weekend in Stockton, California, for the OTB Open. This event gave players one last chance to move up the leaderboard into the top-16 and qualify for the Match Play Championship next month, and there was plenty of movement on the bubble in both MPO and FPO.
Paige Pierce got out to an early lead which she extended to nine strokes going into the final round. While Pierce has never lost an Elite Series event when leading by five strokes or more, Natalie Ryan caught up with three holes to play before ultimately falling short after a mistake on hole 17. Meanwhile in the MPO, Simon Lizotte took a lead in the second round and, despite leading by only one stroke, never relinquished it. He was able to close out his first ES win in over four years with fairly little stress.
One year ago, Simon surprisingly took home a top-15 finish at the OTB Open in his first event back from injury. It’s safe to say Simon has fully returned to form, and everything seemed to be going his way, starting off with a nearly 200 foot eagle on hole 4. Lizotte led in strokes gained tee to green, C1 in regulation, and birdie percentage while taking just six bogey strokes. He also kept his OB strokes to a minimum with five, good for 13th best. While he finished just 28th in strokes gained putting, Simon made 100% from C1 on the final day and overall put up good numbers on the green. The win also propelled Simon to 12th place in the points standings, which qualifies him to play in the Match Play Championship. It had been 1,541 days since Lizotte’s first win on the Disc Golf Pro Tour, the longest stretch for any player between their first and second win.
Calvin finished one stroke back of Simon in each of the first two rounds, and those would ultimately be the deciding strokes. Aside from a few too many missed putts in C1, Heimburg played very well matching Lizotte’s birdie rate, leading the field in C2 in regulation and only missing three fairways the entire weekend. He also went 11-of-27 putting from C2, including four putts that are credited at 55 feet or longer. While Heimburg found C2 in regulation more often than anybody he was only 9th best getting to C1 in regulation, which made chasing down Simon just a bit too difficult.
After making the final day lead card last year, Gossage returned to Stockton and put up another impressive performance. Aaron had the second best C1 in regulation and was third in strokes gained tee to green, earning his second ES podium in a row and third total on the season. The points boost also secured Aaron an invite to the Match Play Championship next month. Some putting struggles in round two and thirteen missed fairways kept the win just a bit too far out of reach for Gossage.
Finishing just behind Simon in strokes gained tee to green, Barela threw the disc very well but performed just above average on the putting green. AB put himself in contention to win after a course record 10-under par second round, which was rated as the 7th best round of his career at 1073. After a 7th place finish at the Masters Cup last week, it appears central California is quite kind to the now 22-year-old. In fact, Anthony’s three highest rated ES events have come at the 2019 San Francisco Open, the 2021 OTB Open, and now the 2022 OTB Open.
Still dealing with major swelling in his left knee, Ricky’s weekend looked to be in jeopardy once again after missing a very short putt on hole 4 that left everyone questioning if he could finish the round let alone the tournament. Wysocki managed to scratch and claw all weekend, hanging around near the top of the leaderboard while in his own words “playing on one leg.” Miraculously, he finished with the sixth best C1 in regulation and the second best OB rate, crossing the white lines just one time.
Imagine playing three tournament rounds at Swenson Park and never throwing out of bounds. Chandler Fry was the only player to accomplish that feat. Even though he finished 49th in strokes gained from tee to green, Fry led the field in strokes gained putting by making 10-of-20 from C2. He also played the final 32 holes of the event bogey-free to secure his second career top 5 finish at an ES event and first since 2018.
Much like at the 2021 USDGC, the only thing standing between Gibson and victory was OB rate, and his 12 OB strokes ranked 92nd in the field. Drew led in birdie percentage, holes parked, was third in strokes gained putting, and fourth in strokes gained tee to green. After making significant strides in his putting game last season, Gibson has continued to improve on the green.
Quietly finishing T-11, Sexton played the final two rounds bogey-free with no OB strokes. Aside from fourteen fairway misses and fifteen missed C2 putts, Nate played very solid in Stockton, matching his finish and event rating from the 2021 OTB Open.
Although he got a win on the National Tour last season, Mason’s 11th place finish in Stockton is his best finish to date on the Disc Golf Pro Tour. Ford did a great job limiting his mistakes with just four OB strokes and five bogeys. He also had the fifth best C1X putting, going 23-of-25. Most importantly, he now sits 15th in the DGPT standings and has earned himself an invitation to the Match Play Championship.
Coming off the worst ES performance of his career, McBeth was never a factor at this event and continued to struggle getting on the greens. Paul carded twelve bogey strokes, eight OB strokes, and converted 0-of-7 scrambles. His bogey percentage has nearly doubled this year from the 2021 season.
A bittersweet tournament for Ezra, who finished T-11 and was fifth best in strokes gained tee to green. Unfortunately, Aderhold shot +2 in the final six holes on Sunday: just one stroke better and he would have finished in 9th and earned enough points to make the Match Play Championship. For the moment, he sits as the first man out and will need somebody to not accept their invitation if he hopes to play in Colorado. Ezra finished the OTB Open 70th in strokes gained putting and converted just 1-of-5 scrambles; he continues to struggle in these two areas specifically.
Pierce came into this event claiming that she was not ready to play, but an extremely hot second round provided a significant cushion over the field and ultimately proved necessary to hold off a charging Natalie Ryan on Sunday. Her 1028-rated second round was only the 15th best of Paige’s impressive career but came in the middle of a 27 hole stretch where she carded 13 birdies and 0 bogeys. Pierce led the field in strokes gained tee to green, scramble rate, and C2 in regulation, but she carded four fewer birdies than Natalie Ryan. Limited mistakes and years of experience in high pressure situations were enough for Pierce to walk away with a four stroke win. She has now won 31-of-61 ES Disc Golf Pro Tour events, more than tripling Catrina Allen’s 10 wins.
Natalie nearly did the impossible, overcoming a nine stroke deficit to chase down Paige Pierce in just 15 holes on Sunday. Unfortunately Natalie carded double bogeys on the final two holes, giving Pierce a stress-free conclusion to a round that had quickly become very stressful. Ryan has often struggled on the putting green, but this weekend she finished fifth in strokes gained putting and before the final few holes on Sunday seemed like she couldn’t miss. Natalie bookended the event with her two highest rated rounds at an E.S. event and not only got her first top 5 finish on the DGPT but her first runner-up finish as well. The finish also catapulted Natalie into 15th place in the DGPT standings, earning her an invite to the Match Play Championship.
In her first Elite Series event of the year, the 51-year-old Hall of Famer led in fairway hits, holes parked, and C1 in regulation, and she gained the second most strokes from tee to green behind Paige Pierce. Korver has been playing rated rounds for 22 years, and still she averaged the 3rd highest rating of her career at an ES event. Juliana continues to defy Father Time and add to her legacy as quite possibly the greatest flying disc athlete of all-time.
With a career-high 971 event rating, Alexis earned her third top-5 finish on the E.S. and first on the Disc Golf Pro Tour. Mandujano continues to putt well, making 20-of-23 from C1X and finishing 11th in both strokes gained putting and tee to green. It’s always fun to outplay your sibling, which Alexis did for the 7th time in 44 events that she has played with her sister Valerie.
The distance world record holder played great from tee to green but struggled on the putting green as she tends to do. Allen did a great job through two rounds, though, making the final day lead card and ultimately finishing tied for 7th. Allen earned just enough points to sneak into the 16th spot on the DGPT standings and earn an invitation to the Match Play Championship.
With an uncharacteristically poor putting performance, Hailey took a bogey or worse on 20-of-54 holes in Stockton and walked away with her worst finish ever at an ES event. In doing so, King lost her spot in the Match Play Championship, coming up 2.25 points short of 16th place and now needing somebody to not accept their invitation if she wants to attend the event. Skipping every tournament between the Las Vegas Challenge and the Champions Cup may prove to be costly for the 2020 DGPT champion.