From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.
June 27, 2022 by Owl P. Jackson, Esq. in Opinion with comments
Birdies and eagles and (trophies of) bears, oh my! The crowds were “Minnesota nice,” but that doesn’t mean I have to be “Minnesota humble.” In that aforementioned lack of humility, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2022 Preserve Championship.
1. Live disc golf
“This isn’t a hockey game; it’s a circus.”
I’m not weighing in on the live vs. post-produced debate here. I like both and believe both have a place in the future of coverage. But…if you weren’t watching live this weekend, you missed out on so much of the drama. Watching any one card could only give a dreadfully incomplete version of this tournament’s story. Simon fighting his way back into contention on day 2? Hole-by-hole leaderboard shuffling? Third card throw-ins?1 Ricky’s relentless final-day pursuit? When tournaments play out like this one did, live coverage is a must.
2. Bradley Williams back on top
“But, guys, I’ve been there. I know how you feel.”
Calm, cool, and collected. Smooth and methodical. Bradley made the comment multiple times that it felt like fate was dragging him along this weekend. Maybe he was right. His win came six years (to the day!) since his last Pro Tour win: the 2016 Vibram Open. In the end, Bradley won because he played solid and consistent each round. There were better single rounds from other players, but Bradley strung three days together and came out on top.
3. The return of Ricky Wysocki
“If we can’t beat them, we might as well keep our pride.”
Golf fans will be familiar with the “Tiger roar.” Cheers from the crowd would echo through the course as Tiger Woods made his charge on the final day. Players started to shake in their boots. On a much smaller scale, that happened this weekend as Ricky Wysocki hit putt after putt until those raptor legs emerged. Ricky fought all the way to a share of the lead but eventually fell short when he threw out-of-bounds on 18. Ricky’s Lyme disease flareup kept him out the Portland Open, Beaver State Fling, and the Match Play Championship. With so many big-name players missing time this season, it was good to see him back in action. Sockibomb is back, baby!
4. Paige goes wire-to-wire
“No matter what people say or do…we have to be ourselves.”
Paige “don’t call me Paige Pierce” Pierce was -8 through the first 9 holes of the tournament. She never looked back. This was Paige’s tournament to lose from the opening moments, and she cruised to a 5-stroke victory. Everything else that happened in FPO sort of felt like a footnote. To the surprise of basically no one, Paige Pierce also won the last DGPT tournament that Bradley Williams won. She has been really good for a really long time. She’s now won 70 Elite Series events.
5. Something I loved about The Preserve: the crowds
“We’re not goons. We’re not bullies.”
Disc golf is huge in Minnesota, especially around the Twin Cities. The galleries were great all weekend. Over 1,300 people were in attendance…and it wasn’t just for final-day MPO lead card. A group had already gathered to watch FPO on Friday. The Preserve is so sprawling and open that it seems to have plenty of room for spectators. It never felt overcrowded or distracting. Pro tip: check out Scott Stokely’s YouTube page to see how much galleries and autograph lines mean to long time veterans of the game.
6. Something else I loved about the Preserve: highlight moments
“Did you all enjoy that? So did they, because they’re still three points up and we’re one period away from defeat.”
The Airborne Preserve doesn’t quite feel like the golf course it used to be, but it is open enough to let players throw the shots they want to throw. We got to see a lot of great highlights throughout the tournament. A handful of holes are legitimate ace-runs, eagles are there for the taking, and throw-ins seems to be catching chains every 15 minutes. Some of the best? Bradley Williams’ shocked face after hitting a blind birdie toss from 250 feet:
Simon with an eagle from 310′:
And my personal favorite: Calvin “gets hype” after nailing a 280-foot eagle:
Oh…and about hole 18. Yes, it may be a little soft. Yes, entire groups may have carded eagles. But you have to love a final hole that allows that possibility of scoring differential. Stop being so stodgy! Have some fun!
7. Podium finish for Kyle Klein
“And just when you think they’re going to break apart…”
Did you know Kyle Klein is ranked 10th in Pro Tour points? I didn’t. After last year’s performance, it felt like Klein was just below that elite tier of players. This year has been a slower start than most expected. In fact, this wasn’t just Kyle’s first Elite Series podium finish of the year: it was his first Elite Series top 10! Here’s to hoping Discmania’s latest crush boy can keep it up.
8. MPO Winners
“And when the wind blows hard, and the sky is black…”
This was Bradley’s first win of the 2022 season. That shouldn’t come as a surprise—not because Bradley can’t win—but because of the number of unique winners this year. Check this out. There have been nine Elite Series/Majors so far this year. There have been seven different winners. Only Ricky and Simon have won twice. Just for fun, let’s add in Silver Series events and the Matchplay Championship. 11 different winners! This should be a fun rest of the season.
9. MPO/FPO Roundup
“When the roosters are crowing, and the cows are spinning circles in the pasture…”
A couple of other players deserve a quick mention for their performances: Missy Gannon looks to be rounding into last year’s late-season form. Ella Hansen continues to impress. Catrina Allen needs to put it together for all 3 rounds. Eveliina Salonen made more that 50% of her C1X putts! Simon fought hard for the back-to-back-to-back, but fell short late in the third round. James Conrad and Adam Hammes are coming around. Gannon Buhr has the same problem as Catrina. And where was Paul McBeth? He got a top 10, but was he even shown on coverage the last two days?
10. The bear and the ring
“And when everyone says it can’t be done…”
From OTB Open’s stock disc to that Native American spear at the Tallahassee Open, we’ve seen it all when it comes to trophies. This week was a fun one. The bear is one of the most memorable trophies out there for two reasons: 1) It is almost as tall as Paige is, and 2) Ricky dropped it last year! I’m also intrigued by the gold ring. It’s no green jacket, but it’ll do for now.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Let me know in the comments or on Reddit the storylines you think I missed!