Six years since the start of the DGPT; six years since Bradley Williams won an Elite Series.
June 28, 2022 by Justin Westfall in Analysis with comments
It seems like everything finally fell into place for the third iteration of the Preserve Championship. After a rush to put on the event in 2020 and smoke-filled air in 2021, this year’s event displayed a more refined layout and hosted tons of spectators on the gorgeous property adjacent to the Mississippi river. While the wind did pick up a bit this year, the increased difficulty on both tee shots and putts is exactly what course owner Cale Leiviska was hoping for. Paige Pierce was able to claim a historic 70th Elite Series/Major win with little stress during the final round. And Bradley Williams was able to claim his 2nd career ES win, exactly six years to the day that he and Pierce both won the inaugural Disc Golf Pro Tour event at Maple Hill.
Williams won the first-ever DGPT event back in 2016, averaging a 1055 rating at Maple Hill and defeating Michael Johansen in a playoff. That was the highest rated ES event in Williams’ career — until coming to Clearwater and averaging 1060 golf with back-to-back 12-under par rounds to start the weekend. Leading the tournament in fairway hits, holes parked, and OB rate was a huge part of his success. Bradley threw the disc extremely well and only needed to take 35 C1X and C2 putts across the three rounds, which helped take a lot of stress off.
Though he now has two wins, Williams has just five top 10 finishes on the Pro Tour. Known mainly for his woods play, two of those top 10s came at WACO, one at the Green Mountain Championship, and, of course, his win at Maple Hill. While many see the Preserve as a long thrower’s course, Bradley was still able to get eagle looks on hole 18 and utilized a roller on the 1280 foot hole 9 to chew off extra distance. His buttery finesse was on full display in the wooded holes and highlighted by a blind 250 foot throw-in on hole 5 during the final round.
An excellent return for Wysocki who led the field in strokes gained tee to green and nearly chased down Williams on Sunday. Ricky played comparably to Bradley; the difference really came down to Wysocki’s two OB strokes whereas Williams played clean. Over the three rounds, Ricky shot 1-over on hole 5, the most difficult hole on the course. But oddly enough, he also shot 1-over on hole 6, which was the 5th easiest and averaged under par. Missing four C1X putts in the opening round didn’t help either, but considering how close he came after just returning from injury should be considered a big success for Sockibomb.
For maybe the first time this season, Klein played good complimentary golf, finishing 7th in strokes gained putting and 8th in strokes gained tee to green. While he was only 7th in birdie percentage, Kyle carded just two bogeys on the weekend. Those bogeys came on holes 5 and 10, the two most difficult on the course. Converting on 9-of-10 scramble attempts helped him stay clean and earn his first podium finish of the season. Klein only had one top 15 finish on the DGPT prior to this event this season and had yet to crack the top 10.
Coming up short for his bid to be the first three-peat MPO winner on the DGPT, Simon still averaged a 1053 event rating after averaging 1055 and 1057 in his last two wins. Earning his fourth straight podium finish, Lizotte led the field getting to C2 in regulation but left himself a few too many long putts by finishing 7th in C1 in regulation. Missing seven putts in the final round, including a three-putt on hole 10, pulled him just out of reach coming down the stretch.
On a day of anniversaries, Sunday also marked one year since Conrad’s historic Holy Shot at the World Championships. Unfortunately for James, there was no such magic this year, but he did still manage to earn his second top 5 ES finish this season. Conrad led the tournament in C2 putting, making 10-of-16, which sounds very impressive until you realize that nine were credited from just outside C1. Perhaps James should have left a few more just outside the circle for his patented step-putt, because he only made 23-of-31 from C1X, which was 69th best in the field.
After a very rocky start to the season, Adam Hammes has now picked up his third ES top 10 finish and second in a row. Adam played the final 34 holes of the tournament bogey-free and tied the course record on Sunday. Most importantly, he led the field in C1X putting making 30-of-31 and averaged his highest ES rating of the season.
The stats for Gannon just don’t look like ones for a 17-year-old player, especially when he’s repeating it on a weekly basis. Buhr took no OB strokes at the Preserve and only carded two bogeys, both of which came on Hole 5. That was also the only hole on which he did not get a birdie look during the final round: he made at least C2 in regulation on every other hole. Gannon finished 27-of-28 in C1X putting and now has eight ES/major top 10’s this season, including seven in a row!
The Bazooka finished 5th in strokes gained tee to green but once again had a lackluster performance on the putting green, finishing 56th. Tamm made just 1-of-12 putts from C2 and, despite his tee to green prowess, was 51st in fairway hits. Making good on 8-of-10 scramble attempts certainly helped him to limit the damage when his drives went off line.
McBeth had a nice weekend on the putting green, finishing 8th in strokes gained and making 30-of-32 C1X putts. Although Paul was 9th in C2 in regulation, he finished just 24th best in C1 in regulation and 51st in holes parked. In contrast, Bradley Williams parked 10 more holes than McBeth and took 16 less putts than McBeth did. Paul’s average finish on the DGPT is 13.57 this season: the lowest of any season in his career was 7.25 way back in 2016.
Aderhold led the tournament in C1 in regulation, finished 2nd in holes parked, and was 3rd in fairway hits. Looking at Ezra’s stats on a weekly basis is getting a bit frustrating, though; his tee to green talent seems to earn plenty of borderline top 10 finishes but the putting is only a detriment right now. Ezra made 42% of C2 putts but just 64% from C1X, missing at least four C1X putts and carding a three-putt in every single round! His C1X putting percentage was below average in 2021 and it’s down another 6% this year. It may be time for him to try something new.
Coming off two terrific weeks, Guthrie was able to keep the putter flying well during the opening round but regressed to the mean for the final two days. After making 87% and 89% of C1X putts in his last two tournaments, he finished the Preserve at just 69% C1X putting and 64th best in strokes gained putting.
Also coming back from injury last week was Gavin Rathbun, who finished the event 12th in strokes gained tee to green, 9th in birdies, and 6th in holes parked. After a very pedestrian 994 rated opening round, Rathbun shot 1046 and 1048 on the final two days and ultimately averaged above his rating. Hopefully Gavin continues to get closer to 100% and regains his tour stamina after a long time away: he’s a very promising player when healthy.
Another wire-to-wire win in the FPO division as Paige Pierce shot a blistering 10-under par opening round that included a double bogey. Paige led in strokes gained tee to green and finished 4th in strokes gained putting. Not only did she win her fourth event of the year, Pierce once again has won over 50% of all DGPT ES events with 32 wins out of 63 tournaments. With majors now counting towards the DGPT point standings, Paige again broke her own record for most points in a single season, as she currently sits at 775.83. Next week she has a shot at becoming a six-time USWDGC champion, which would double up every other player and set her alongside Des Reading as the only players to win three in a row.
Finishing 5th in strokes gained tee to green and 2nd in strokes gained putting, Missy played very solid and averaged her highest event rating since winning last year’s Des Moines Challenge. Gannon had an opportunity to chase down Pierce on Sunday but just couldn’t string together a hot round like she had the previous two days. She earned her fourth ES top 5 finish and second runner-up finish this season.
Very similar to Gannon, Ella Hansen actually shot the highest event rating of her career and had a chance on Sunday but couldn’t put it together. Hansen led in both C1 and C2 in regulation and did not take an OB stroke in any round. She did card nine bogeys, which was several more than anybody else in the top 5, but it was still good enough to earn her third podium finish of the year.
Overall, Catrina’s tournament was very similar to those of Ella and Missy, except her poor round came in the middle of the weekend as opposed to the end. In round two, she missed nine putts, eight of which were inside C1. Surprisingly, she still led the field in scrambles, converting on 11-of-13 attempts. Allen will try to add to her major resume next week at the USWDGC, an event she has only won once back in 2012.
Much like the players listed above, Holyn Handley played two excellent rounds but didn’t have the juice on Sunday. Handley took three OB strokes and gave herself eleven C2 putts on Sunday, but still she finished the event 3rd in strokes gained putting. On Saturday, she shot the highest rated round of her career at 1010, her second 1000+ rated round this year. When a new FPO player shoots over 1000 rated and does so multiple times, take notice: it’s a rare feat usually reserved for the most elite players. Holyn now has 4 Elite Series top 10 finishes this season in just 7 events.
A new Estonian competing in the United States, Kaidi Allsalu played excellently at the Preserve by all accounts. Rated just 913, she averaged a 962 event rating and averaged 981 over the final two rounds! Both of those rounds were the highest rated ones of her career, and she finished the event 9th in strokes gained tee to green.