Until the 2017 season, the battle for the top player in FPO was hard to call. Valerie Jenkins, Catrina Allen, Sarah Hokom, to name a few have all had hot years and have claimed themselves at least one World Championship. Val won’t be making it this year but Catrina and Sarah will. After Paige Pierce’s 2017 season, if they want to win, they know their game has to be top notch.
A good subtitle for the Memorial might read “Paige’s Victory Lap in Arizona”. Since her first showing in 2011, Paige has won the event five times. If that wasn’t impressive enough she has crushed the competition quite regularly.
- In 2011 Paige bested Val by 1.
- In 2012 Paige took third place, eight behind Val.
- In 2013 Paige bested Val by 11.
- In 2014 Paige bested Catrina by 10.
- In 2015 Paige bested Val by 2.
- In 2016 Paige took second place, 1 behind Catrina.
- In 2017 Paige bested Catrina by 13.
Seven years, five wins. The first time she ever played the event, she beat Val Jenkins, who had three world titles already. The average gap between her and her competitors at this event when she wins in 7.4 throws; including negatives margins her losses she is still averaging 4 throws better at the end of the day. It’s hard to beat numbers like that when making a call on who will walk away the victor of the 2018 Memorial Championship presented by Discraft. On top of already dominating play over the years, the removal of Fiesta Lakes plays to her advantage. Fiesta Lakes had some of the shortest holes of the tournament. Both Fountain Hills and Vista Del Camino play in favor of the big arms.
Paige had a rocky start this week at the Las Vegas Challenge but worked her way from an eight throw deficit after the first round to win by three at the end of day four. Paige isn’t the only player with distance or a resilient mind game on the course. Jennifer Allen and Catrina Allen can throw sick distance with their backhands, Sarah Hokom and Jessica Weese have stunning power on their forehands, and folks like Lisa Fajkus (who can throw plenty far) will be draining putts.
At the end of the day, I won’t be startled if Paige puts another mark on the wall for this one; I will be surprised if anyone lets her take the win easy. It’s a new season, we don’t know what everyone’s off-season prep looked like, or where their game is right now. What we do know is that the best disc golf there is to be seen this weekend is in Scottsdale, AZ at the Memorial Championship presented by Discraft. Live coverage starts every day at 4 PM EST and post-production rounds being posted the next day. Don’t miss any of the action and make sure to check back here daily for more previews, stat analysis, and round recaps. Until then, get outside and play some disc golf! The 2018 Season is officially here!