From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.
August 16, 2022 by Owl P. Jackson, Esq. in Opinion with comments
What a week in disc golf news! Paige Pierce releases her long-awaited Fierce documentary. Nikko’s suspension ruling is announced. The G.O.A.T. lays down a solid burn on Twitter. Halo Firebirds. And there, as the smoke clears—from the ashes of a disc golf news firestorm—rises a solitary water tower. These are the top 10 storylines of the 2022 Ledgestone Open.
1. Ricky three-peats
“State champs, white and blue; Yeah, I remember you.”
Through three-and-a-half rounds of disc golf, only a stroke or two separated the top of the field. It looked like it was going to go down to the wire for an exciting finish. Midway though the final round, however, Ricky caught fire while the rest of the card went stagnant. Six straight birdies and the tournament was essentially over. Ricky called it going into “blackout mode,” noting that you go in and out of it, so get the birdies while you can! Ricky’s win gives him three in-a-row at Ledgestone (2 ½ in-a-row if you’re annoying). More importantly, Ricky becomes the first MPO player to reach three Elite Series wins this season and finds himself on top of the DGPT standings. He still isn’t in perfect health and visibly showed signs of back pain during a few putts. But…if he keeps “blacking out,” it shouldn’t matter.
2. Missy Gannon’s late-season form
“You sure had a hell of a view from way up there.”
Is it the bigger paydays? Does it just take her a while to warm up? Whatever the reason, I believe we are reaching Missy’s time of the year. If you remember, Missy finished last season by winning the Throw Pink Championship (somehow still not a major, but feels bigger than some majors), the Pro Tour Championship (same), and the DGPT Player of the Year award. This season has been a little slower than some were expecting, but—as we’ve seen before from her—there is still plenty of season left. She looked great off the tee and on the putting green this weekend. Paige and Kristin hung around for a while and Ohn made a late push, but Missy was the best player in the field. She looks to repeat last year’s victory in Des Moines this coming weekend.
3. Getting your first Elite Series win
“I talked to you a million times; But I’m getting out of here.”
Heading into the final day, there were really five MPO players still in contention: Ricky Wysocki, Paul McBeth, Anthony Barela, Gannon Buhr, and Matt Orum. Ricky and Paul have obviously had their fill of wins, both this year and throughout their careers. But this weekend offered the delightful possibility of a new Elite Series winner. Somehow, Matty O. has never won a big one, although he has a billion (or somewhere close) wins. Gannon Buhr has been a top ranked player since the first week of the season. Other than a healthy Eagle, Barela might be the most physically gifted thrower of the disc on tour. In the end, Ricky and Paul went 1-2, but those results are getting further and further from the norm.
4. Seven unique winners in FPO
“How far did you think I’d get when I pointed my wheels out west?”
People have been talking about the increasing competition and parity in FPO for a couple of years now, but it has always felt like something that was still a little bit around the corner. Well, this year has now produced seven unique Elite Series or Major winners in the FPO division: Catrina Allen, Valerie Mandujano, Paige Pierce, Kristin Tattar, Hailey King, Natalie Ryan, and Missy Gannon. Gannon said post-round, “To win now feels like so much more of an accomplishment that it did in years past.” My prediction is that number will rise to 9 unique players by season’s end. Could Eveliina or Henna finally pop off? Will a newcomer like Kat Mertsch or Ella Hansen find their way to the top? Or will Ohn Scoggins finally get her first FPO Major win? She almost ran down Missy from the chase card this past weekend and has finished second at three straight DGPT events.
5. The return of Kristin Tattar
“A little young and dumb; I guess gotta learn somehow.”
The last we saw Kristin Tattar, she was hoisting the blown glass at DDO. A few days before that, she took first at Jonesboro. Since those wins, she has missed 11 straight tour events (including silver series) due to illness, injury, or just plain being in a different country. It was great to have her back in competition, even though she took her worst finish all year—T3rd. Think about that…worst finish all year…tied for third place.
6. Northwoods Black: brutal or beautiful?
“Slowin’ down and drivin’ in; I can finally breathe again”
Brutal or beautiful? Yes. Northwoods Black is often referred to as the toughest course on tour. The gaps are tight. The rough is thick. The holes are long and winding (hole 12, anyone?). And it has seen a lot of cleaning up since we witnessed McBeth just give up and start hucking last year. To illustrate how fickle a day on Northwoods Black can be: Calvin Heimburg shot a course record -9 on day three. A day earlier, he shot a +6 on the same track. It’s a shame that the front 9 holes can’t be live broadcasted. Figure it out — or we may lose a great, challenging course.
7. Eureka Lake Temp: gimmicky or good?
“It’s like I found a long-lost friend; God, I have missed this town.”
Eureka Lake has some of the most memorable holes on tour. That hole where you shoot from the bridge. That hole where you go over the baseball fence. That hole with the water tower. The other hole along the baseball fence. The opening shot over a reservoir. When the memory of a course is tied to a man-made object, does it make it gimmicky or good? A little of both. The fence looks terrible, just like it did at Texas States. But sometimes, man-made obstacles are fun. And it is always good when you have holes that are signature enough to be referred to as “the bridge hole” or “the water tower hole.”
8. The cut line
“You and that lonesome full moon watching over me; I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”
There wasn’t any drama in the disc golf world this past week, was there? Good thing we had the cut line. It is always interesting to take a look at the names that didn’t even make it to the end of the tournament. Names like Barsby, Hammes, Melton, Humphries, and a lot of other people you know missed the cut in MPO (Nate Sexton’s streak is still alive, by the way). Over in FPO, the cut line claimed well-known names like Cox, Weese, Panis, and even recent winners Natalie Ryan and Hailey King. On a somewhat related note, Kona mentioned that she will be seeing a sports therapist to help her get her season back on track.
9. MPO Pro Tour standings check-in
“It sure is good to see you; I’ve been away for way too long.”
At this point in the season, bad finishes are starting to drop, and overall scores are beginning to level out. After the latest update, the same 8 players have a bye to the semifinals: Wysocki, Heimburg, McBeth, Buhr, Dickerson, Lizotte, Jones, and Conrad. They have a decent lead over the rest of the field, but there are still five players who are within striking distance: Corey Ellis, Joel Freeman, Kyle Klein, Ezra Aderhold, and Chris Clemons. A couple solid finishes and they could find themselves in the coveted top eight. There were two important movers this week. Matt Orum snuck into 16th, temporarily earning him a bye to the quarterfinals. And Anthony Barela, coming off a hot performance, jumped 13 spots into a qualifying position.
10. Worlds heat check
“Like a lighthouse in a storm you help me find my way back home.”
Worlds is almost here. In my opinion, here are the contenders who are trending in the right direction: Wysocki, McBeth, Heimburg, Eagle, Matty O., Buhr, Kristin, Paige, Missy, and Ohn. Here are the contenders headed in the wrong direction: Simon, Chris Dickerson, Catrina Allen, and Val. I’m sure I’ll change my mind a dozen times before then. Can’t wait!
Thanks for reading, everyone. Let me know the storylines you think I missed. See you at Des Moines!