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Introducing Your 2023 DGPT Rookies of the Year

By Nick Quargnenti
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In the dynamic world of professional disc golf, the spotlight shines brightly on the 2023 Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) Rookie of the Year—a title reserved for emerging stars who make their mark in their inaugural Pro Tour season. To qualify for this prestigious honor, players must not have participated in more than three combined DGPT Elite Series events, PDGA National Tour events, or PDGA Professional Major events in a single preceding season.

Additionally, those who have competed in two or more PDGA Professional Majors in the same prior season are deemed ineligible. The award’s determination is a captivating process, relying on a split vote format with media members contributing 50% and impassioned fans the other 50%. As we celebrate these rising talents, the 2023 DGPT Rookie of the Year serves as a symbol of excellence and promise in the ever-evolving landscape of professional disc golf.

Silva Saarinen: Named DGPT FPO Rookie of the Year

Silva Saarinen at the 2023 USWDGC. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

Silva Saarinen (PDGA# 107335), a Finnish powerhouse, has officially clinched the 2023 DGPT FPO Rookie of the Year award. By amassing a total of 363.5 points throughout the season, Saarinen ended the season in the 39th ranked position (1st in rookies). Although 77 unique FPO players received at least 10 fan votes for this award, Silva Saarinen dominated the fan vote (over 3.5x the amount of votes as 2nd place) and the media vote (getting over 90% of the vote).

Currently the 13th ranked player in FPO UDisc World Rankings, and a PDGA member since 2018, Saarinen hails from Oitti, Finland. Her performance underscores her emerging presence in the disc golf scene, backed by notable achievements in her rookie year. Her journey began with her first DGPT event, the 2023 Music City Open, where she would go on to place in the top-30 among competitors in her inaugural Pro Tour event.

Silva Saarinen at the 2023 PDGA Pro Worlds. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

Fast forward four months later, Saarinen notably claimed a top-10 finish at her inaugural PDGA Pro Major, the 2023 PDGA Pro World Championships, where she landed in an impressive 6th place. This achievement underscores her exceptional performance, marking a significant milestone in her burgeoning disc golf career.

Silva Saarinen not only showcased her talent in the spotlight but also demonstrated consistency across the DGPT Elite, Silver, and PDGA Major events. Participating in a total of 7 events, she cashed in 5 of them, boasting an impressive 71% success rate. Further emphasizing her competitive edge, Saarinen achieved an average round rating of 950.429, reinforcing her standing as a formidable force in the FPO field.

For her 2023 season statistics, she is ranked 2nd in Circle 1X Putts (83%) and she is also 2nd in Circle 2 Putts (20%) according to UDisc. Ending the season with a 25% birdie rating places her at 17th within the FPO field. It’s worth noting that her ranking remains impressive, despite participating in fewer events compared to some of her counterparts.

Silva Saarinen at the 2023 USWDGC. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

Beyond her performances in DGPT events, Saarinen has achieved remarkable success this season on a different stage. Engaging in five PDGA Euro Tour events, she emerged victorious in all of them—Krokhol, Swedish Open, Skellefteå, Åland, and the PDGA Euro Tour Championship, namely the Andalucía Open. This outstanding accomplishment underscores Saarinen’s prowess, and anticipation builds as we eagerly await her contributions to the Pro Tour in 2024.

Recognition is also due to the runner-up, Caroline Henderson (PDGA# 171555). Henderson amassed a total of 217.25 tour points, securing the 48th position overall this season (3rd among rookies). Her standout performance includes a top-10 finish, notably claiming the 9th spot at the 2023 Las Vegas Challenge.

Luke Taylor: Named DGPT MPO Rookie of the Year

Luke Taylor at the 2023 PDGA Pro World Championships. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

On the MPO side of the coin, Luke Taylor (PDGA# 102119) has officially clinched the 2023 DGPT MPO Rookie of the Year award. With a total of 237 tour points this season, Taylor landed himself in 55th ranked position. Luke is currently the 44th ranked player in the MPO UDisc World Rankings.

Having been a PDGA member since 2017, Luke Taylor hails from Shepherd, Michigan. His performance highlights his growing impact in the disc golf scene, marked by significant achievements in his rookie year. Following a trajectory akin to Silva Saarinen, Luke’s disc golf journey commenced in April 2023 at the 2023 Music City Open, his inaugural DGPT event. Impressively, he secured a top-20 finish, claiming the 16th spot in his debut Pro Tour appearance.

Luke Taylor at the 2023 Preserve Championship. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

Zooming ahead to the 2023 MVP Open, Luke Taylor would attain his best placement of the year at this prestigious event, securing an impressive 11th place finish. This accomplishment highlights his outstanding performance, representing a noteworthy milestone in his evolving disc golf career.

Luke Taylor demonstrated unwavering reliability throughout DGPT Elite, Silver, and PDGA Major events. Engaging in a total of 9 competitions, he secured cash prizes in 8, showcasing an impressive 89% success rate. Reinforcing his competitive edge, Luke achieved an average round rating of 1025.556, affirming his stature as a formidable presence in the MPO field.

In his 2023 season statistics, he secured the 10th spot overall in Scramble rate (57%), 33rd in Birdie percentage (41%), and 34th in reaching Circle 1 in Regulation (42%). Notably, his rankings maintain an impressive standing, even with fewer events under his belt compared to some of his peers.

Luke Taylor at the 2023 PDGA Pro World Championships. Photo: Kevin Huver / DGPT

Prior to joining the Pro Tour, Luke Taylor amassed a series of noteworthy victories as an amateur, securing titles such as the MJ15 2021 World Champion, the 2020 River City Open MA1 Champion, and the 2018 USJDGC MJ12 Champion. The young star from team Discraft has set the bar high his rookie year, and we can’t wait to see what he brings to the table in the 2024 season.

Recognition is also due to the runner-up, Aidan Scott (PDGA# 99246). Aidan Scott amassed a total of 219.625 tour points, securing the 60th position overall this season (2nd among rookies). His standout performance includes a top-5 finish, notably claiming the 4th spot at the 2023 Discmania Open.

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