April 21, 2022 by Justin Westfall in Analysis, Recap with comments
After years of planning, organizing, and re-formatting, the inaugural Champions Cup proved to be the exciting spring major that players and fans had been clamoring for. This prestigious event showcased the International Disc Golf Center’s premier course, WR Jackson, a tightly-wooded track that created plenty of scoring separation and challenged the best players in the world for 72 holes. Favorable conditions led to seventeen MPO players to make at least 90% of C1X and 40% of C2 putts; eight of those players finished in the top 15.
While the story of this event centers around Chris Dickerson and Paige Pierce winning their 2nd and 17th career majors, respectively, there are plenty of stats to dive into for the entire field. Now that the trophies have been awarded, it’s time to look down the leaderboards and see which numbers jump out, from breakout performances and course records to final hole misfortunes and veterans missing the cash line.
Now a two-time major champion, Dickerson has won two of the past four majors and finished in the top 5 in his last six major appearances. Chris holds onto the record for the highest PDGA number (#62467) to win an open division major. On his way to averaging a 1052 event rating, he managed to birdie every hole on the property except for hole 5, which scored as the most difficult hole in all four rounds. Making his two stroke win even more impressive is the fact that he carded two OB strokes, tied for 5th worst in the division.
While Ricky led the event in strokes gained tee-to-green, it was his rank of 53rd in strokes gained putting that allowed the tournament to slip from his grasp. Wysocki, who is normally known for his putting prowess, made just 88% of C1X and 33% of C2 putts. On most weekends that’s plenty to earn a win if he’s leading in strokes gained tee-to-green, but with good weather conditions and the trees shielding the greens from any wind, those stats just weren’t going to cut it at W.R. Jackson. The end result for Wysocki was his 9th career runner-up finish at an open major.
After stumbling on holes 5 and 6 in the final round, Vinny began to make a charge on the back 9 but it was too little too late. Heimburg averaged a 1048 rating this weekend, which tied his second best event rating at a major championship. He also earned his second podium finish at a major, his first coming at the 2020 USDGC, which Chris Dickerson also won.
The putting assassin and standstill power-thrower earned his second best Elite Series finish in Appling and improved on his previous best major finish of 25th at the 2021 Pro World Championships. Ellis, who led the 2021 season in putting percentages, made 60-of-62 putts from C1 this weekend and 12-of-20 from C2. Though he has tremendous talent, Corey is often hindered by poor scrambling which results in bogey strokes, but at the Champions Cup he scrambled at 88% and carded just five bogeys during the tournament.
One of the biggest storylines of the week, Gavin picked a tremendous event to have a breakout performance. With the spotlight shining on him during the final round, he didn’t disappoint. Even with the Disc Golf Network and Jomez cameras around, Babcock finished the tournament 63-of-63 putting from C1 and 9-of-18 from C2, which earned him the second most strokes gained putting behind Corey Ellis. Gavin first cracked 1000-rated back in July 2020 and recently moved up to a 1010 rating. Since WACO, however, Babcock has averaged 1021 golf and finished the Champions Cup with a 1043 event rating. His 5th place finish improved on his previous best finish of 49th at a major and 15th at an elite series event.1 A third-best scramble rate of 95% resulted in just two bogeys across four rounds. His $3,463 paycheck currently accounts for over 25% of his entire career earnings.
If it weren’t for Paul McBeth, then Gannon Buhr would have set the course record on Sunday with a 13-under 1071-rated round, the second highest rated round of his career. Still just 16-years-old, Buhr earned his first top five finish at a pro major in only his third attempt.
It wasn’t quite the performance he showed at the 2019 World Championships, but Emerson Keith earned his second career top 5 finish at a major championship. Emerson played the final 59 holes of the tournament bogey-free, coming just short of the 60 hole stretch that Gannon Buhr had at the Las Vegas Challenge.
Despite one of the worst major rounds of his career the previous day dropping him into 29th place, Paul McBeth found a way to flip the script on Sunday and obliterated the course record by four strokes. The 1091-rated round is arguably the best major round of his career when you consider the relatively low ratings that W.R. Jackson gives out.
Less than three years after his first PDGA tournament, Ezra has now finished in the top 15 at the last three major championships.
While Cole finished in a tie for 44th place, the youngster had the 10th best birdie rate in the tournament and had the 5th best circle 1 in regulation. Unfortunately for Redalen, he also had 18 over par strokes on 11 holes and never shot a round better than 5-under par. The teenager is oozing with talent, but the mistakes and inconsistencies still need to be cleaned up.
Finishing in a tie for 71st, Uli missed cash at a major for the first time since the 2008 World Championships.
Coming off a season with two Elite Series wins, Hammes has struggled mightily since WACO and was certainly looking to right the ship at a course where he’s found success in the past. Adam found anything but on the Jackson course, finishing tied for 88th and averaging his lowest event rating since the 2019 Beaver State Fling.
Opening the tournament with a triple bogey is not how Pierce wanted to start the Champions Cup, but she battled back and finished the tournament as the only FPO player to not shoot a round over par. Paige has now won 9 of the last 12 majors that she has played in and taken 2nd place in the other 3. Not only did she lead in birdies, Pierce carded six more than second best Catrina Allen and limited the mistakes enough to walk away with her 16th FPO major championship.
Similar to Ricky Wysocki, Tattar was in control of this event but let it slip away with struggles on the putting green. Kristin finished 22nd in strokes gained putting, including nine misses in the final round. Improving her podium streak to sixteen straight events is a small consolation for one of the best players in the world who was in full control of this event going to the final 9.
The Queen of Clean had a huge bounce back performance after a rough start to the season. Finishing 5th in strokes gained putting and 6th in strokes gained tee-to-green, Hokom ended up right on the heels of Tattar and Allen for her first major podium since the 2020 Women’s National Championship.
One of the best putters in the world put on a show, making 94% from C1X and 40% from C2, which gained 11.18 strokes on the field. Despite being Masters eligible, the 40-year-old can still compete with the best women in the sport on the right courses.
Everybody will talk about McBeth’s round, but Catrina Allen was the first world champion on Sunday to set a course record and charge up the leaderboard for a notable finish. Cat has never finished worse than 6th at a major championship and she climbed thirteen spots to secure 5th place and keep the streak alive. Amazingly, her 1011 rated final round only ties the 8th highest rated major round of Allen’s career.
Despite being just 20th in strokes gained putting, Valerie led the field with a 76% scramble rate. Unfortunately, her 6th place finish ends a top 5 streak that dates back to 2021 DGLO, but it’s still Val’s best finish at an FPO major.
It’s been a disappointing season for Henna, who many people expected to immediately come to the U.S. and compete for Elite Series wins. While Blomroos led in fairway hits and was 2nd in strokes gained tee-to-green, she was also 2nd worst in strokes gained putting.
Now for the fourth straight event, Eveliina led the field in strokes gained tee-to-green but was dead last in strokes gained putting. Salonen had never finished outside the top 5 at a major but ended up in a tie for 16th place at the Champions Cup. Eveliina has proven that she is the best thrower in the FPO division; her work off the tee is something to marvel at. But the putting numbers she has displayed simply won’t get the job done in a competitive field.