Triumph in Estonia
2023 PDGA EuroTour #8 — Alutaguse Open Final Recap
Heidi Laine had to have a good round to keep her rivals at bay, and that is what she did. After a dazzling start with -3 on hole 4 and a calmer middle part, the distance was insurmountable, and she took another risk by putting her foot on the accelerator in “birdie or bogie” mode and, in fact, she did not get a par in the last 10 holes, losing some effectiveness inside the circle. All in all, this PDGA Euro Tour Lone Star Disc Alutaguse Open has been another very good tournament that continues her streak started in May which very few players seem capable of challenging.
Another Finn, Jenni Karppinen, repeated her good performance of yesterday and took second place in the final despite continuing with dizziness, being especially successful on the back nine.
The first of the twelve Estonian players was finally Kristi Unt, who managed to deliver a card with no bogeys and an outstanding 100% accuracy from circle 1. But the best round of the day did not go to a Nordic player, but to the British Rachel Turton — who took several days to recover her luggage after the flight and who also took a day to find her game as shown by her rounds of +6, -1 and -6: an upward trajectory that fits in her approach to gain confidence for the Continental Championship that starts in a few days also in Estonia.
Umbrellas were seen in the crowd, but not because of the rain, but because of the intense sun that warmed the atmosphere. The wind was blowing, but changed from the East to the North, which clearly altered game plans. What didn’t change was the group of players who fought for the victory (Davidsson, Nieminen, Villmann and Tamm) in one of the tightest and most exciting final rounds of the season. If you missed it, you have a chance to stop reading and enjoy the broadcastwithout knowing the result…
Are you still there? Well, let’s get down to business: Daniel Davidsson started with a three-stroke lead that lasted… two holes! The whole lead card started off tight (three starframes in a row on holes 3,4 and 5: that would be called a “turkeyframe”, a “starturkey”? Suggestions for a name are welcome. The whole central part of the course was a continuous attempt to try to escape, reminiscent of bicycle races: when someone got a stroke ahead the group accelerated to cancel it and so, with the four in just one stroke of difference, they reached the complicated 15th hole, solved with another starframe overcoming all comfortably the Hazard area that has caused so many headaches to many players, passing by the clubhouse where even the players who had already finished joined the gallery in this last loop while they made their bets and exposed their reasons.
Jesse Nieminen manages to maintain his lead on the tricky elevated 16th green and seems to have the situation under control: the easy 17th hole is solved, of course, with another starframe, so he will have the box on the very high 18th tee. At this moment he has one stroke over Villmann and two over Tamm and Davidsson, but eagles are the order of the day, so nothing is decided yet.
Logic asks to play for the birdie to ensure, at least, the playoff and leave the Estonian the risk of playing the Eagle but at this moment comes the surprise: the change of wind direction makes the disc not fall as fast as yesterday and he goes OB long, so he can only aim for par.
Villman leaves his drive on C2 and Nieminen reaches C1 from the far Drop Zone.Villmann has the victory in his hand but misses the putt, so nine meters separate Nieminen from forcing the playoff. Wind from the right of the elevated basket. He throws, touches the rim of the basket, touches chains… and bounces out, awarding the championship title to Mauri Villman!
In the interviews the tension is still palpable with a very emotional Mauri and Jesse giving a lesson in sportsmanship highlighting the good thing about the second place — and the spot for the USDGC — in a course that did not favor him.
Daniel Davidsson keeps the third place while Albert Tamm suffers an out of bounds and a triple putt that makes him share the fourth place with the Danish Hjalte Jensen, who came very strong from the chase card to achieve his best result of the season, along with the Danish national title, and the remaining place for the US Championship.
The best round, again with -11, was shared by Silver Lätt and Lauri Hämäläinen to put the icing on the cake of this PDGA Euro Tour Lone Star Disc Alutaguse Open in what has been one of the most exciting tournaments in living memory.