All Gas, No Brakes
2023 USDGC – Final Recap
The final PDGA Major of the year came to a close as the best players in the world took to Winthrop Arena one last time for Championship Sunday of the 2023 United States Disc Golf Championship.
After three rounds at one of the most iconic courses on tour, the final round came down to a battle between Kyle Klein and Bradley Williams as they both sought to take down their first PDGA Major win.
Williams came into Round 4 just three strokes behind Klein and the two matched shots up until hole 5 when Klein threw an aggressive approach shot that looked like it would skip back into the water by the basket but managed to check up in time and park the hole. The momentum shifted in Klein’s favor after Williams’ birdie putt missed the basket and went into the water while Klein took a birdie.
“All gas, no brakes,” Klein said of his risky approach that resulted in a two-stroke swing, “I had a gameplan coming in. I was pretty aggressive and I knew if I just stick to that and throw the shots I’ve thrown all week, then I can get a pretty sizable lead.”
Klein went 9-under through the first 11 holes and watched his lead grow to nine strokes over Williams. While Williams would go on to gain a few strokes back, Klein found himself with a five-stroke cushion going into hole 18. It seemed that Klein’s victory was guaranteed but the pressure started creeping up as Klein threw two OB shots in a row while Williams parked the hole for birdie.
“In certain situations like this, know your mistakes and know what the worst-case scenario can be, especially coming down the stretch like this. I knew on 18, if I was going to go OB on my second shot or third shot, it’s going to be as far up the hill as I can, not early around the corner,” Klein said after his third shot went OB but left him with a clear upshot to keep from bleeding too many strokes.
Klein’s approach shot left him with a long putt, but the huge lead he had built up meant that he could simply lay up and take a triple bogey to win by one stroke despite a four-stroke swing on the final hole. Throughout all four rounds, Klein took a birdie or better on over half of the holes at Winthrop, including taking an eagle on hole 10 three times. Klein minimized mistakes with only nine OB strokes – the second least of any player – and led the field with a 26% parked percentage.
As he tapped in his last putt, Klein firmly cemented his name into Disc Golf History and he became the fourth first-time MPO Major winner in the last five Major events.
“I’ve been too close too many times at this tournament to not have pulled that off,” said Klein, who lost against Paul McBeth in a playoff at the 2021 USDGC, “I’m just glad I had built up enough of a lead throughout the round to know I can make some mistakes coming down the stretch.”
Williams went on to take solo 2nd, his best finish at the USDGC and his first podium finish at a Major in 2023.
With the fourth and final Major of the year completed and a first-time Major champion crowned, the Disc Golf Pro Tour will now head to Charlotte, NC for the 2023 Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship.
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