Klein, Handley Claim USDGC, TPWDGC Titles


Two
first-time
winners
at
Winthrop
as
the
hardest
finishing
holes
in
disc
golf
deliver
the
drama
again. 

Kyle
Klein
at
the
2023
USDGC.
Photo:
DGPT

When
telling
the
story
of
a
disc
golf
tournament,
it’s
natural
to
go
looking
for
the
turning
points.
Whoever
wins
those
key
moments
usually
wins
the
day.
So
when
looking
at
how

Kyle
Klein

became
the
fourth
first-time
MPO
winner
in
the
last
five
majors
and
the
15th
person
to
hoist
the
USDGC
trophy,
hole
5
was
an
obvious
place
to
start.

Klein
began
Sunday’s
final
round
with
a
three
stroke
lead
over

Bradley
Williams

and
a
five
stroke
lead
over
Sullivan
Tipton
and
Joel
Freeman.
Klein
and
Willams
both
birdied
hole
2,
increasing
the
gap
over
third
place
to
six
strokes
and
making
it
look
like
a
genuine
two
horse
race,
the
likes
of
which
we’ve
barely
seen
all
year
in
MPO.

On
hole
5,
Williams
threw
a
brilliant
forehand
fairway
drive
from
a
cramped
lie
and
what
DGN
commentator
Philo
Brathwaite
called
‘delusional
range’,
430
feet
across
the
lake
to
within
45
feet
of
the
basket.
On
the
same
hole,
Klein
was
just
as
aggressive.
His
approach
from
only
slightly
less
distance
came
in
too
hot
and
looked
destined
to
skip
into
the
water
before
digging
hard
into
a
clump
of
dirt
near
the
pin
like
a
golf
ball
fizzing
with
back
spin.
“It’s
a
common
phrase,”
said
Klein
after
the
round.
“All
gas,
no
brakes.
But
I
had
a
game
plan
coming
in.
I
was
pretty
aggressive,
and
I
knew
if
I’d
just
stick
to
that
and
throw
the
shots
I’ve
thrown
all
week,
then
I
can
get
a
pretty
sizeable
lead.”

Williams
tentative
birdie
putt
faded
early,
missed
the
basket
entirely,
and
rolled
into
the
water.
With
the
two
stroke
swing,
the
gap
was
suddenly
five
strokes.
“I
threw
a
bit
too
good
of
a
shot,”
said
Williams
afterwards.
“I
got
put
in
a
kind
of
awkward
situation
where
I
needed
to
make
that
putt
to
keep
the
gap
close.
It
ended
up
being
a
bad
position
to
go
for
that
putt.”

The
moment
felt
decisive.
Kyle
had
some
breathing
room.

Klein
birdied
the
next
two
holes
to
stretch
the
gap
to
seven
strokes.
Kyle
then
kept
his
foot
on
the
accelerator
on
hole
10,
throwing
across
both
open
space
and
OB
to
park
the
hole
for
an
eagle
two,
while
Williams
stuck
to
his
conservative
plan
to
follow
the
fairway
around
for
par.
Another
two
stroke
swing
and
the
lead
was
nine.

In
2021,
Klein
missed
a
putt
and
a
chance
to
win
this
tournament
on
hole
18.
He
went
on
to
lose
in
a
playoff
to
the
greatest
player
of
our
generation,
Paul
McBeth.
If
the
ghost
of
that
memory
hadn’t
been
banished,
it
had
certainly
been
told
to
pack
its
bags.
Williams
drew
one
stroke
back
on
hole
12
and
then
another
on
hole
15,
but,
standing
on
the
tee
of
hole
16
with
a
seven
stroke
lead,
Kyle
had
every
right
to
feel
safe.
He
didn’t
though.

“I
definitely
did
[feel
some
nerves],”
Klein
said
afterwards.
“I
knew
I
was
up
by
seven
going
into
the
last
three
holes
and
I
thought
‘worst
case
scenario
is
I
win
by
one.’
I
kept
telling
myself,
‘It’s
just
you
and
you.
There’s
nothing
else
standing
between
you
and
this
title.’
You’ve
just
got
to
beat
your
mind.”

Klein
turned
over
his
midrange
tee
shot
on
16
into
the
hazard
and
outside
putting
range.
A
birdie
to
Williams
meant
a
two
throw
swing
and
a
five
throw
gap
for
Klein
to
contemplate
on
the
long
walk
up
to
the
tee
of
hole
17.

The
two
most
difficult
finishing
holes
on
tour,
holes
17
and
18
at
Winthrop,
make
all
talk
of
key
moments
and
turning
points
anywhere
else
on
the
course
redundant.
Because
nearly
every
USDGC
of
the
modern
era
has
hinged
on
these
holes
anyway.
Hole
17,
in
particular,
seems
to
like
punishing
players
who
swagger
up
College
Lake
Road
with
four
or
five
stroke
leads.
When
leading
at
the
USDGC,
it’s
best
to
not
provoke
them

keep
the
margin
modest,
walk
quietly
up
to
hole
17’s
tee
pad,
and
try
not
to
make
eye
contact
with
the
haybales.

Both
Williams
and
Klein
avoided
the
wrath
of
the
island
hole
by
throwing
their
forehands
high
and
letting
the
wind
carry
the
discs
to
the
fat
part
of
the
green.
As
Klein’s
disc
landed
safe,
the
celebration
among
his
fans
and
followers
seemed
to
get
started.
Then,
on
the
tee
of
hole
18,
they
groaned
and
were
hushed.
After
Williams
threw
well
up
the
hill
and
in
bounds,
Klein,
throwing
the
same
midrange
that
he’d
turned
into
the
hazard
on
hole
16,
again
failed
to
find
the
fairway.

“It’s
one
of
my
discs
that
I’ve
been
throwing
all
week
on
that
hole
that’s
been
working
fine,”
Klein
explained
afterwards.
“Maybe
it
got
a
little
weird
wind
gust
or
something
and
I
got
it
over
too
much.
It
happened
on
16
as
well.
It
burned
over,
cut
rolled,
and
got
into
the
water.”

Klein
now
had
potentially
only
three
strokes
to
play
with.
After
the
penalty
stroke,
he
was
throwing
three
from
the
edge
of
the
water
and
still
well
short
of
Williams’
first
throw.
“On
the
shot
up
the
hill,
I
knew
if
I
was
going
to
go
OB
that
I
was
going
to
go
OB
right.
I
was
going
to
get
as
far
as
I
could
up
the
hill
to
give
myself
an
open
look
at
the
basket
to
pitch
up,”
Klein
said
afterwards. 
His
forehand
shot
was
released
a
little
late
and
skipped
OB,
further
reducing
the
number
of
spare
strokes
he
had
over
Williams.
Then
when
Williams
landed
on
the
edge
of
the
bullseye
for
a
likely
birdie,
Klein
had
no
more
mistakes
to
make.

The
5-year
pro
from
Wyoming
played
it
cool.
After
double
checking
the
scores,
he
approached,
pitched
up,
and
tapped
in.
After
placing
fifth,
second,
and
ninth
in
the
previous
three
USDGC
tournaments,
Klein
managed
to
hold
on
for
a
one
stroke
win.
Turning
towards
the
crowd,
he
somehow
managed
to
look
both
emotionally
shattered
and
elated
in
equal
measure.
“It’s
hard
to
believe,”
said
Klein.
“It’s
still
setting
in.
But
I’ve
been
too
close
too
many
times
in
this
tournament
to
not
have
pulled
that
off.
I’m
just
glad
that
I’d
built
up
enough
of
a
lead
to
know
I
could
make
some
mistakes
coming
down
the
stretch.”
Given
the
two
months
he
lost
this
year
to
a
lower
back
ailment,
it
was
an
especially
gratifying
win
for
Klein.

It
was
a
steady
and
measured
performance
from
Williams,
too.
After
facing
some
serious
adversity
in
the
middle
of
the
round,
he
stuck
to
his
game
plan,
plugged
the
leakage
of
strokes,
gradually
worked
his
way
back
into
contention,
and
was
ready
to
pounce
when
Klein
faltered.
He
finished
one
stroke
short
of
an
unlikely
win.

Handley
Charges
off
the
Chase
Card

Holyn
Handley
at
the
2023
Throw
Pink
Women’s
Disc
Golf
Championship.
Photo:
DGPT

All
the
contenders
who
began
Championship
Sunday
for
the
Throw
Pink
Women’s
Disc
Golf
Championships
had
at
least
one,
maybe
two,
disaster
holes.
For

Kristin
Tattar
,
who
shared
the
lead
with

Eveliina
Salonen

after
round
three,
the
disaster
was
on
hole
8.
After
misjudging
the
angle
on
her
backhand
drive,
Tattar
sent
her
disc
fading
early
and
into
the
bulge
of
OB
on
the
left
side
of
the
fairway.
Then
Kristin
overturned
her
next
forehand
shot
into
OB
again.
The
double
bogey,
which
came
after
a
bogey
on
hole
7,
dropped
Tattar
from
a
one
stroke
lead
to
a
share
of
fourth
and
into
a
position
that
it
took
her
the
rest
of
the
round
to
recover
from.

For
Salonen,
it
was
slower
bleeding,
with
bogeys
on
holes
6,
7,
and
14
taking
her
out
of
the
mix.
Ella
Hansen,
who
had
a
share
of
the
lead
at
the
time,
went
OB
off
the
tee
on
hole
12
and
then
threw
good
money
after
bad
by
throwing
out
over
the
OB
area
in
an
attempt
to
save
par
and
never
making
it
back
inbounds
on
her
way
to
a
triple
bogey.
Then
Henna
Blomroos,
already
four
throws
back
from
the
lead,
fell
off
the
pace
with
bogeys
on
holes
5
and
7.

Seemingly
out
of
contention,
even
in
her
own
mind,
on
the
chase
card
was

Holyn
Handley
,
six
strokes
back
from
the
leaders.
“Maybe
I
can
shoot
double
digits
and
pop
up
into
the
top
three
if
one
of
them
is
sleeping
today,”
Handley
said
afterwards
when
reflecting
on
her
pre-round
mentality.
“The
likelihood
that
all
four
of
them
would
have
a
lackluster
day
was
pretty
low
with
how
well
they’ve
been
playing.”

Handley
was
on
a
prodigious
hot
streak,
though.
After
starting
round
three
with
three
bogeys
in
the
first
eight
holes,
Holyn
eagled
hole
9
and
proceeded
to
shoot
17-under-par
for
the
next
26
holes.
By
the
time
she
joined
the
large
backup
of
players
waiting
to
throw
on
hole
18
in
the
final
round,
she
had
unknowingly
shot
to
a
two-stroke
lead
over
Tattar.

Handley
was
choosing
to
not
check
her
score
during
the
round,
but
when
she
noticed
a
change
in
the
mood
of
the
crowd
following
her,
she
decided
to
take
a
peek.
“By
the
time
I
was
done
on
17,
I
could
tell
the
energy
of
the
crowd
and
the
card
had
changed,”
Handley
said
afterwards.
“I
started
to
feel
nervous
because
of
it
so
I
thought
I
may
as
well
check
now
because
I’m
already
nervous.”

The
change
in
expectation
had
an
immediate
effect
on
Handley
on
hole
18,
as
she
pulled
her
forehand
tee
shot
a
little
too
wide
over
the
water,
not
giving
the
disc
enough
room
to
fade
onto
the
fairway.
There
has
been
controversy
over
the
spot
her
card
gave
her
to
play
from,
as
from
the
vantage
point
of
the
DGN
cameras,
it
appeared
that
the
disc
never
crossed
inbounds,
dropping
from
an
OB
tree
just
barely
on
the
wrong
side
of
the
line.
Throwing
three
from
near
where
the
disc
had
advanced
up
the
fairway
offered
considerable
advantage
from
having
to
re-tee.
Distances
and
perspectives
can
look
different
on
camera,
though,
and
it
was
the
consensus
of
the
rest
of
the
playing
group

Missy
Gannon,
Alexis
Mandujano,
and
Eliezra
Midtlyng

that
the
disc
had
crossed
in
bounds.

Handley
almost
went
out
of
bounds
again
with
her
second
shot
but
managed
to
land
her
disc
straddling
the
OB
line
on
the
right
side
of
the
fairway.
Handley
then
slid
OB
again
with
her
approach
but
managed
to
salvage
bogey
with
a
testing
34-foot
downhill
putt.
The
door
was
left
open
for
Tattar,
though,
who
proceeded
to
birdie
hole
18
for
the
first
time
in
her
career
to
force
a
playoff.

The
two
players
arrived
yet
again
on
the
tee
of
hole
17
in
the
playoff
after
sharing
par
on
hole
1.
Handley
teed
off
first
with
the
high,
steeply
angled
hyzer
forehand
that
has
become
the
standard
safe
way
to
play
the
hole.
Then
Tattar
threw
a
flatter
shot
to
the
left
of
the
green,
aiming
for
the
disc
to
fade
back
into
the
range
of
a
birdie
putt.
“I
got
greedy,”
Tattar
said.
The
disc
never
made
it
back
in
bounds
and
Handley
was
able
to
putt
out
for
her
first
touring
win.

“It’s
definitely
special,”
Handley
said
afterwards.
“When
Kristin
tried
to
park
it,
I
guess,
and
pulled
it
over
a
little
bit,
my
jaw
just
dropped.
I
don’t
see
her
make
mistakes
like
that
very
often.
Immediately
I
almost
started
crying.
I
know
my
Mom’s
probably
going
crazy
right
now.”

Aside
from
being
Holyn
Handley’s
first
tour
win
and
the
first
chase
card
winner
in
this
tournament’s
history,
the
2023
Throw
Pink
Women’s
Disc
Golf
Championship
will
also
stick
in
most
disc
golf
fans
minds
as
the
first
time
they
saw
Eliezra
Midtlyng
play.
The
16-year-old
from
Georgia,
in
her
second
year
of
playing
disc
golf,
wowed
spectators
with
some
booming
drives.
Eliezra
was
the
first
FPO
player
to
ever
eagle
hole
18
and
she
also
made
the
edge
of
the
green
on
hole
5
after
two
throws,
a
feat
that
most
MPO
players
are
satisfied
with.
Midtlyng
played
in
the
lead
card
in
round
two
and
despite
fading
from
contention,
managed
a
top
10
finish.

***

Special
mention
after
the
finish
of
the
25th
edition
of
the
USDGC
goes
to
Andy
Greene,
the
man
who
has
announced
13,785
players’
names
on
the
first
tee
since
the
beginning
of
the
tournament.
Your
author
is
proud
to
have
been
one
of
those
names
Andy
has
called.
He
has
decided
to
hang
up
the
microphone.
The
last
name
Andy
Greene
called
at
the
USDGC
was
Joel
Freeman.

Original source

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