From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.
October 19, 2022 by Owl P. Jackson, Esq. in Opinion with comments
And just like that, the 2022 season has come to an end. Soon, disc golf fans everywhere will be parsing Instagram posts and zooming in on YouTube videos with only 116 views, sniffing for every last hint of a sponsorship change. But before we head down that long and lonesome road, let’s take one more look back on the weekend that was. In my opinion, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2022 Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship…presented by Barbasol, of course.
1. Tattar’s Incredible Season
“Closing time, open all the doors and let you out into the world.”
Say what you want about the format, but the best players won in the end. So, in that respect, this tournament accomplished what it claimed it would—crown the tour champions. Kristin didn’t have her most dominant performance of the season, but once again her steady, consistent pace eventually left everyone else a few strokes behind. A tip of the cap to Kristin’s season and to growing FPO purses—for a few hours, Kristin’s $103,141 was the single season cash record in any division. She did that without playing in two of the majors and missing a handful of Elite Series events. I have no doubt she would have shattered $103,141 if she played the full tour. After all, she didn’t miss the podium the entire season.
2. Back-to-back birdies
“Closing time, turn all of the lights on over every boy and every girl.”
By winning the DGPT Championship, it makes it way more likely that we will remember that Ricky also won the DGPT points title. So, you could say that this tournament is more important than Worlds. Okay, I kid. Ricky put any other Player of the Year resumes to bed, winning his 5th event of the season. It wasn’t without drama, though. Ricky imploded on holes 16 and 17 of the final round, leaving him one stroke behind Isaac Robinson going into the final hole. With a crushing backhand, followed by an absolute smash of a forehand, Ricky did what almost nobody did all weekend—birdie 18. Ricky and Isaac ran the hole back for the playoff and it was frame-for-frame identical. Rinse. Repeat. Ricky.
3. Isaac Robinson falls short
“Closing time, one last call for alcohol; so, finish your whiskey or beer.”
Isaac Robinson has emerged as one of disc golf’s rising stars, thanks to an Idlewild smackdown victory earlier this season (and to being one of the stars of Alden Harris’ most excellent vlogs). The tournament felt like it was Isaac’s to lose for most of the final round…and he lost it. I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but he just missed too many makeable putts down the stretch. It’s strange…he plays so quickly that when he makes it, it looks effortless. But when he plays so quickly and misses, it almost looks careless or nervous. Isaac has shown he has what it takes to win on tour. This won’t be the last time he will battle with the Wysockis and McBeths of the world.
4. Hokom lays up…I think
“Closing time, you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.”
A lot of the most memorable moments of the weekend happened on hole 18. Allow me to set the stage for a final hole stunner. FPO quarterfinals—Sarah Hokom (-1) in 4th place, Natalie Ryan (E), and Eveliina Salonen (E) in a tie for 5th. Natalie had the tie breaker over Sarah, so Sarah’s main concern was keeping pace with Natalie. Keep the one stroke lead and move on to the next round. One problem…she was so focused on Natalie that she forgot about Eveliina, who was parked for birdie. Hokom steps up to her putt. Sink it and she is on to the semis…and she lays up?! Or did she? Was that a hideous putt? Did she forget to check scores? I wish we could have had a post round interview. Hokom conceded the entire tournament and then fist bumped her caddie. Brutal.
5. Money on the line
“Closing time, time for you to go out to the places you will be from.”
The DGPT Championship featured the biggest purse in disc golf history. So, even with 1st and 2nd place locked up, there was still a lot of money on the line for Valerie Mandujano and Missy Gannon as they battled for 3rd. It’s crazy to see what money on the line can do to rattle a player. There is a big difference between putting in your backyard and sinking a single putt worth $5000 on hole 18. Val stepped up to a 15-footer and…doinked it right off the band. That’s a tough way to end the season. Weird juxtaposition to see someone in tears who just won $9000.
6. The greatest roller of all time…almost
“Closing time, this room won’t be open ’til your brothers or your sisters come.”
Ricky was blowing up. Isaac couldn’t capitalize on any of Ricky’s mistakes. Paul was out of it. Down the stretch of the final MPO round, it seemed like nobody wanted to win—nobody except US champion Gannon Buhr. You might’ve heard the announcers mention his age once or twice. In what felt like it was out of nowhere, Gannon was back in the mix by hole 18. Needing to birdie, he threw one of strangest rollers known to man. You really need to see it to understand. It rode along the O.B. sponsor signage, hopped off and rolled towards the basket, before riding along the wall again and coming to rest O.B. I think if the wall didn’t stand up the disc at the end, he would have been parked for a three-way tying birdie. And he doesn’t miss.
7. Paige no-shows
“So, gather up your jackets, move it to the exits. I hope you have found a friend.”
The biggest dud of the tournament came courtesy of Paige Pierce. Paige’s season long play earned her a bye to the semifinals, but she finished in 8th place out of 8 competitors. It was a fitting end to a very strange late stretch of the season for Paige. Is it the malaise of the years on tour? The missing passion that she has been talking about? Something off in her form? Is everyone else just better now? We will have to see if Paige Pierce returns in 2023 as the fiery Paige we know and love, or if she will still be content in her competitive funk. Either way, it’ll be one of the biggest stories of the year. She’s Paige Pierce, after all.
8. Everyone loves Ohn
“Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end, yeah.”
Watching Ohn play, celebrate, and cheer on her card is an absolute delight. I’m glad we got to see a lot of it this season. Hopefully she can snag an FPO win next year. If anyone deserves it, she does.
9. Play-in pain
“I know who I want to take me home. I know who I want to take me home.”
Locals call the course “the Nightmare at Nevin.” Did you watch the MPO play-in round? I did. I thought this was going to be the longest weekend of disc golf ever, with the course living up to its name. The players looked absolutely miserable. Chandler Kramer proved that he can mope with the best of them. Big Jerm advanced, and he still looked like he never wanted to play again. Thankfully, things really picked up (scores and spirits) in subsequent rounds because that was not entertaining.
10. Grand finale?
“I know who I want to take me home. Take me home.”
So what are we to think about this tournament as a finale to the season? The money certainly makes it more exciting, but there is something that is just off about the format. The end of each round drags on, mostly because the winning positions are largely wrapped up and most players don’t matter anymore. And the final rounds made me really appreciate the ability to jump from group to group, and from shot to shot. Would we even care about this tournament if the money wasn’t there? Most of the interviews with the players indicated that they just wanted to go home. Now, if we could get another Nathan Queen Cinderella story next year…
Thanks for reading, everyone! Let me know the storylines you think I missed. I’ll see you at the Las Vegas Challenge. Believe it or not, we will actually be excited about that tournament by the time it comes around. Who know what storylines 2023 will hold? Only time will tell.