Last year in a stellar performance at the MVP Open at Maple Hill, Hokom made a last-minute push to take first in Tour Points before traveling south to Florida and winning it all at the Tour Championship. This year, in a similar fashion, Hokom hit her stride late in the season, carding her first Pro Tour victory of the year at the Green Mountain Championship. While this was not enough to push her into winning the Tour Standings, it could be a good indication of what we can expect from Hokom in Charlotte next week.
Hokom has been a supporter of the Tour since Day one. In 2016 she won the Tour Standings by a margin of 35 points and finished second at the Tour Championship. In 2017, she finished second in Tour Standings and 4th at the Tour Championship. Then last year, she was able to unite the crowns finishing first in both Tour Standings and at the Tour Championship. Hokom is not a stranger to the Tour Championship and is in a unique position to be able to possibly be the first player to be a repeat Tour Champion.*
What do the stats say?
If you have been following Hokom's performances this season, one will quickly note that it has taken her quite some time to get comfortable with her new discs. This season, while Hokom finished 3rd in Tour Standings, the only statistics which she was third or better in was scramble percentage and OB rate. What is more interesting is when you narrow down her stats to look at GMC and MVP her two most recent Pro Tour events, those same stats are practically the only ones where she was first (at MVP she was also first in fairway hits).
Sarah finished second at MVP and first at GMC thanks to her precision and scrambling in the woods. For Sarah, GMC was won on Brewster Ridge but was not lost at Fox Run Meadows, thanks to her ability to keep her drives in bounds. All of this to say, her game is set up well for a strong performance at Hornet's Nest. If she avoids the OB on the Hornet's course and stays on top of the scramble percentage, she has an excellent shot at being the back-to-back Tour Champion.
So what about this course?
Sarah was the only player in the FPO division of the Tour Championship other than Catrina Allen to play at Hornet's Nest during 2012 Worlds. What happened? Hokom received her World Title there. Now, Worlds was not won by Hokom at Hornets, but the good karma associated with a World Title cannot go understated.
Looking at Hokom's stats on the wooded courses shows that she is set up for success at Hornet's Nest. Her precision sidearm allows her to get out of trouble with ease. It also gives her the ability to carve up a wooded course with unparalleled accuracy.
It should be an absolute delight to watch Sarah Hokom take a shot at defending her 2018 Tour Championship title. The course is looking phenomenal thanks to the design efforts of John Houck and the diligent work of Mark Huether and the Charlotte Disc Golf Club. If you have not already, make plans to watch the Tour Championship October 18-20th. It will be one tournament you will not want to miss!
*Chris Dickerson is also in the same position this year, though because the FPO play in the morning should Hokom win, she technically would be the first due to timeframe. Also, Dickerson has to play through the qualified round yet again while Sarah has a bye to semifinals.
James Conrad is no stranger to making final round lead cards. When he plays in October at Tour Championship, all he will need is to advance through the semifinals round to find himself there again. While James finished sixth in Tour Standings this season, his most notable finish comes this past week with his first Major victory at the United States Disc Golf Championship. When James makes his way 45 minutes north of Rock Hill to Hornets Nest, he will have the opportunity to be the first player to win both the USDGC and the Tour Championship in the same year.
After winning the USDGC, James noted that he began touring full time in June of 2016. In 2016 James played every Pro Tour event and finished 6th in Pro Tour standings. He would fail to make it out of semifinals, though. In 2017 James finished 5th in Pro Tour standings thanks to his first Pro Tour victory at Idlewild. He would advance past the semifinals and would end up taking 4th place at the Tour Championship. In 2018 James would finish 3rd in Tour Points, only finishing outside of the top ten at three events. He would yet again not be able to advance past the semifinals round. This year he will look to change that and proceed to the finals round in Charlotte.
What can the stats tell us?
James's best stat on the Pro Tour is birdie percentage, where he finished 12th on the season. Outside of this stat, you have to go pretty far down the stat sheet to find a bright spot. Much like our other successful players, his second and third best stats are C1 and C2 in regulation. He finished 17th and 20th, respectively.
To get a better look at where James can be successful, we need to look at his tournaments played this season. James finished T6th at Waco and outright 6th place at MVP. Two of the more wooded courses with a top ten performance will bode well for James. His best finish, 2nd at Idlewild, only helps bolster his possibilities for a Tour Championship final round appearance. Many already know of James's ability in the woods, but let's take a more in-depth look now at how he will stack up in the woods.
Can a wooded course spell success for Conrad?
Hornet's Nest is considered by many to be a fair but challenging wooded course. The last time James played a rated round in Charlotte was Pro Worlds in 2012, his only Pro event of the year, and he finished 42nd. While James is from just north in Virginia, he very rarely made the trip down to North Carolina to compete. That being said, the courses in Virginia are similar to that of Hornet's Nest, so we can expect James to feel right at home in Charlotte. Look for plenty of putter drives from Conrad as he seeks to carve up the Hornet's Nest course and hopefully advance from the semifinals to the finals round at the 2019 Tour Championship.
As we look forward to October 18-20th for the Tour Championship, we cannot thank John Houck and Mark Huether of the Charlotte Disc Golf Club enough for helping put together a Championship level course at Hornet's Nest. We are excited to see the best in the game compete for top honors in less than two weeks. Make plans to watch live or in person as we look to crown the Champions for year four of the Disc Golf Pro Tour.
Last year going into the Tour Championship, Garrett Gurthie was a player to watch. Garrett joined the tour in 2018 after observing the top pros play the course he managed, New World Sports Complex, for the Tour Championship in 2017. He realized he could still compete with the top Pros and wanted to be in contention to win the Tour Championship on his home course in 2018.
Last year Garrett finished 6th in Tour Standings, which gave him a bye to semifinals. Not too bad for his first season back on tour. He would, however, be unable to advance to the finals on his home course, carding only a three-under-par round. On his card was Nikko Locastro, who carded a -9 on the day, and -10 was the wild card score. While Double G was able to make the Tour Championship in the same year, he started back touring he was unable to use his home-course advantage into a Pro Tour finals appearance. Before we look into how the Tour location change will affect Garrett, let's dive into his stats from this year.
Does having a big arm help that much?
When you dive into Garrett's stats for this year, you might be surprised to hear that the only stat that Garrett holds in the top ten is a 6th in parked percentage. His next closest stats are 11th in C2 in regulation and 13th in C1 in regulation.
On the stats sheet alone, Garrett's performance this year is not the 6th place in Tour Standings finish that he secured. Garrett's 6th place finish came from his second-place finish at Jonesboro and MVP, and then a third and fourth-place finish at Idlewild and Ledgestone. It's Garrett's penchant for sustainable finishes that helped move him up to his bye worthy finish on tour. Looking at his stats shows that it's more important to consider the course Double G is playing than one or two specific stat, to determine his potential for success at the Tour Championship.
No Home-Field Advantage? No Problem.
Garrett was looking to take advantage of his familiarity with the New World Course last season. He also had a band of adoring fans following along during the semifinals round. However, while on paper, the course played well in his game, none of these factors helped him advance to the finals in 2018.
Looking forward to this year, coupling together all of Garrett's successes on tour, it seems like his lack of home-field advantage should not be a problem in Charlotte. The last time Garrett played Hornet's Nest for a rated round was in 2013 for the Carolina Clash. He carded a -3 55 on a par 58 layout. Garrett ended up taking 6th in the event. The previous year he finished 15th at Charlotte Worlds missing the finals and not playing Hornets.
This year, Garrett will be taking on a modified Hornets Nest layout adjusted by John Houck and made playable by Mark Huether and the Charlotte Disc Golf Club. If we look at Garrett's success on tour, we can look no further than his first-place finish at the Santa Cruz Master's Cup National Tour event to show that he has what it will take to succeed on a course like Hornets. His skill at courses like Hornets is reinforced through his MVP and Idlewild successes this season. While it will not be near as fun to follow Garrett on the course this year at the Finals given his multitude of fans he had last season, we still look forward to him putting on a show and having a legitimate shot at advancing to the finals.
Make sure you are ready to watch live or in-person October 18-20th to see who will bring home the Tour Championship victory this year from Hornet's Nest Disc Golf Course in Charlotte, NC.
Catrina Allen has finished the top four in Tour Points all four seasons of the Pro Tour so far. This year tied her best Tour Points finish with year one; second in Tour Standings. In year one, she was able to turn a second-place tour finish into a Tour Championship victory. In 2017 and 18, she would finish second fiddle to Paige Pierce and then Sarah Hokom. It remains to be seen if she can materialize a top finish at the Tour Championship this year.
This season Catrina would finish 4th at Memorial. There was a stacked field, which included Evalina Salonen taking home the victory. Catrina would then kick things into gear, finishing first or second at every event until MVP. While she finished round one at MVP only three off Paige Pierce's lead, she would struggle to maintain that pace and ultimately ended 13 back of first. Things would get worse at GMC, where she ended up finishing in 6th place. It is safe to say that the last few events have not been up to par for Catrina's standard game. Let's take a look and see what Catrina can improve on or hopefully continue to do to make a push for the finals round at the Tour Championship.
Stat to Watch: Putting
The stat to watch for Catrina will be her putting percentage. Catrina leads the field in parked shots and is second in both birdies and C2 in regulation. Saying that, for the most part, her driving is not the issue. Where things become problematic is her putting percentage. Catrina is currently 28th in C1x putting. As noted in our Paige Pierce preview article, there will not even be 28 players in the FPO field for the Tour Championship. For Catrina or Paige to take home another Tour Championship title, they are going to need to start bagging more putts inside the circle.
One place where Catrina has a chance to shine on the stats sheet beyond parked and birdies will be her scramble rate. Catrina is currently 3rd in scramble percentage. If she can maintain or improve her scramble success rates on the challenging Hornets Nest course, Catrina should have an easy path into the final round of the Tour Championship.
Wooded Course? No Problem!
One other place where Catrina has found success this season has been on the wooded courses on Tour. Catrina found her first win on the Disc Golf Pro Tour this season at 'The Beast' in Waco, Texas. She would also go into a one hole play-off with Paige Pierce at Idlewild to take second place. More recently, she brought home a victory on the National Tour at Delaware.
In 2012, Catrina did make the final nine and play at Hornets Nest, but she would end up in third place after Valarie Jenkins carded a better final-nine round than she did. At the Tour Championship, Catrina and the rest of the Pros will be playing a John Houck modified version of the Hornets Nest layout. She will have an opportunity to avenge her 2012 finish at the course and hopefully draw from her mid-season success to make the final round of the Tour Championship on October 20th.
As we turn to the DGPT Championship October 18-20th, our next player with a bye to the semifinals is Kevin Jones. Kevin was able to get his first hallmark win on Tour at the Idlewild Open in July. After a break-out performance at the USDGC in 2017, Jones has now secured an Elite Series win and can look towards a potential Tour Championship signature finish.
Jones struck out on the Disc Golf Pro Tour during the second half of the 2017 season. He came up just short of qualifying for the tournament, finishing T58th in a year when the top 50 players made the Tour Championship. In 2018 Kevin decided to tour full time and the lead to a 7th place Tour Standings finish, which was parlayed into a finals finish last year. Kevin's 7th in Tour Standings in 2018 secured his bye to the semifinals, and then he was able to win the wild card spot in the finals with a -10, the hottest round not winning a card. In the finals, Kevin struggled to get anything going but was able to hang on until he took a quad bogey on hole fourteen. Kevin will be looking to avenge his 2018 performance this year at Hornets Nest.
Where can the stats help Jones?
Diving into the Udisc stats for this season, he's not close to leading in any category. His best stat is his birdie percentage for which he finished 8th in the regular season. He will need to improve his 57th in scramble percentage and 54th in C1x putting stats to have a shot at the finals.
On the surface, it does not look promising for Kevin, but let's take a look at his stats specifically from Idlewild, where he found success this season. More importantly, Idlewild is one of the courses most similar to Hornets in play on tour. At Idlewild, Kevin was able to use his 1st in parked and C1 in regulation percentages to secure his first Elite Series victory on tour. He struggled again in the scramble and C1 putting rates finishing 34th and 29th for the tournament, respectively.
Looking at the stats, Kevin's best shot at a Tour Championship victory is to get on the birdie train early and maintain that performance across two rounds. Kevin will benefit from the single round format, where scores do not carry over, assuming he can make it out of the semifinals round.
What does playing Hornet's Nest mean for Jones?
In 2012 while players like Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki were playing a final nine to see who would win the World Championships at Hornets Nest; Kevin was finishing up summer break about to head to high school. Now in 2019, Kevin will be joining the likes of Paul McBeth and a few others who were playing in 2012 to play for the Tour Championship. Kevin was able to flourish at the Idlewild course but struggled at other wooded courses on Tour this season. Before Worlds this year, he indicated he was more comfortable playing at Lake Eureka as opposed to the wooded Northwoods track. He played nine throws better each round at Eureka as opposed to Northwoods through the first four rounds of Worlds. Kevin will need to overcome whatever is challenging him in the woods and take advantage of the open holes at Hornets to have a shot at the final round this year. If he can channel the good vibes from his Idlewild, DGLO, and Ledgestone performances to the Tour Championship, he may have a shot.
We are looking forward to watching all of the action October 18-20th on the John Houck modified Hornets course. We cannot thank Charlotte Disc Golf Club and Mark Huether enough for their work in finalizing the course to make sure it is Championship ready. If you have not already, make plans to watch in person or live this is going to be one event you will not want to miss!
German Phenom Simon Lizotte is the only international player in the DGPT Championship field this year. With Seppo making his return back home post-HOF and Thomas Gilbert coming up just short on qualifying to the Tour Championship, the weight will fall on Simon to represent the international PDGA fans.
This year is Simon's third Tour Championship after missing the first year. In 2017 Simon made the final round from the semifinals after finishing fourth in Tour Standings. He ended up finishing in third place with a -7 round. In 2018, Simon fought his way to the semifinals from the qualifying round after missing several DGPT events. Just like Chris Dickerson, he fought he way through the tournament but carded a -8 in the semifinals, and that was not enough to match Chris Dickerson's -13 to advance to the finals. With a modification to the Tour Championship format this year, where the top four scorers from the semifinals will advance, Simon might have a more direct path to the final round this year. Last year Simon's -8 would have given him the wild card spot if players advanced based on score alone.
What do the stats say?
Simon finished third in Tour points this year. Simon is only 3rd in two stats that is parked percentage and C2 in regulation. This season Simon was either parked or in C2 more than most players. He dropped slightly to 5th in C1 in regulation, further reiterating the concept of drive for dough and putt for show.
The stats do show that Simon may struggle in the woods as he was 73rd in scramble rate this season. This thought is further justified when one sees that his one finish dropped (he missed two events this season during the Europe swing) was a 10th place finish at the wooded Waco course. If Simon can keep it on the fairway (he was 9th in fairway hits) and line up his putts (29th in C1 and 18th in C2), he might have a path to make it into the finals.
A New Track Could Spell a Fresh Start
To our knowledge, this will be the first time Lizotte has played the Hornet's Nest course competitively. While historically he as struggled on the wooded courses RE: Waco & Delaware this year, Charlotte could be a new leaf for Simon. Fans will want to watch how Simon fairs at the Hall of Fame classic here in a few weeks to see if he's prepared to take on the woods of Hornets. Last year Simon finished T29th at HOF, so this year's Tour Championship may be a feat within itself.
The course is going to be prime for Championship competition thanks to John Houck and the Charlotte Disc Golf Club, specifically the organizational assistance of Mark Huether.
We are looking forward to the Tour Championship, which will take place on October 18-20th. Make plans to watch online or in-person as it will be one tournament you will not want to miss.
This season, Paige Pierce had a "slow start." However, by Jonesboro, she was ramping things up and righting the ship. For Pierce, a slow start was a second and a third place finish at the first two Pro Tour stops. She would then go on a dominant run taking second only at San Francisco until the final event of the season, the Green Mountain Championship. Pierce is clearly in the driver's seat at this point in the season and will use her competition at USDGC and The Hall of Fame Classic to ramp up into the Tour Championship.
In 2017 just like Ricky Wysocki, Paige Pierce was able to unite the crowns, winning both the Points Standings and the Tour Championship. Unlike Paul and Ricky, Paige did not make the finals showcase at Hornets in the 2012 Pro Worlds. Meaning, Pierce will be taking a different look at the course compared to Catrina Allen and Sarah Hokom, who were both in the finals in 2012.
Looking back at her previous Tour Championship performances, in 2016 Pierce lost by four throws to Catrina Allen. In 2017 she won by six throws, and in 2018 she dropped in semifinals being two throws off the hot round and one throw out of advancing. Following the FPO division at the Tour Championship, last year's semifinals performance was the closest we have seen since the Tours' inception. The stiff competition will be returning in 2019, albeit on a different track.
Can Pierce Clean up Lingering Stats?
Pierce was able to overcome her slow start to the season relatively easy. Looking at her Pro Tour Stats sheet, she finished first or second in all but three stats. All three statistics where Pierce struggled could spell trouble at the Hornets track. First, she finished 8th in scramble rate. With the wooded Hornets course, an ability to scramble will be crucial. Next, she finished 17th in C1x putting. C1x putting is a vital stat for any competitor, and there will not be 17 players in the field at the Tour Championship. If Pierce struggles inside C1 like she has this season it will create a steep path to the title of Tour Champion. Finally, Pierce finished 21st in OB rate for the regular season. Pierce has commented about her OB woes throughout the season so expect her to try and avoid the OB that will exist at the Tour Championship to put herself at the top of the podium on Sunday, October 20th.
Can Pierce Succeed on a Wooded Track?
While there are some open holes on the Hornets Nest course, traditionally Hornets is viewed as a wooded track. Given Pierce's struggles at Waco and more recently at Brewster's Ridge playing on a wooded course brings some questions as to Pierce's path to victory. However, Pierce is no stranger to playing in the woods. She found success at Idlewild this year, and on the National Tour at the Beaver State Fling. For Pierce to succeed at Hornets, she will need to stay in the fairway and avoid scrambling (or clean up her scramble rate).
We are excited to see the course come together and feature one of Charlotte Disc Golf's premier spectator courses. We are excited about the course changes put forth by John Houck and are incredibly thankful for Mark Huether and the Charlotte Disc Golf Club for helping to implement them. Keep following along with all of our player previews leading into the Tour Championship, and we look forward to announcing the finalized course layout soon!
If you have not already, make plans to either watch the Tour Championship live or spectate in person October 18-20th. It's going to be an event you will not want to miss!
**Editors Note: This article was written prior to Wysocki's withdrawal from the DGPT Championship due to Lyme Disease. We wish Ricky a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him next season out on tour!
With the Tour Championship's move to Charlotte Ricky Wysocki has the opportunity to put this past season's up-down performance behind him. More importantly, Wysocki's proximity to home could spell success and see him no longer playing second-fiddle to Paul McBeth.
Wrapping up the season second in Tour Points to Paul McBeth two years in a row is no small task. Missing only DGLO and Idlewild both seasons, this year Wysocki was able to drop a T9th finish with the added third drop for Tour Points. After Kevin Jones finished first at Idlewild, it looked like he had a shot at passing Wysocki for second place in Tour Standings. All Kevin had to do was keep up with his mid-season performance at the final two events. However, Wysocki returned from his Pro Tour hiatus and was able to solidify his second-place Tour Standing.
In 2016 and 2017 Wysocki won the Tour Points standings. In 2017 Wysocki was able to unite the crowns, winning the tournament as well, after falling to McBeth in the Tour Championship the year before. Last year, Wysocki advanced from the semi-finals round into the finals to ultimately take a T3rd place finish behind Chris Dickerson and Nate Sexton.
An up-down season may not spell success.
In 2016 and 2017 Wysocki was able to win 3 Pro Tour events each year. Last year he only won two. This year, Wysocki was only able to win one Pro Tour event, unseating defending champion Paul McBeth at the San Francisco Open. Wysocki's performance on Tour this season was plagued by rounds where he got behind early and then had to fight his way back into contention. This resilience is what led to Wysocki's top finish in Tour Standings.
While Wysocki finished second in Tour Points, his stats on Tour show a different story. His best stat this season is a 3rd from C1 in Regulation. A 4th from C2 in Regulation is his next best stat. While he appears to have the driving accuracy to be successful, he is currently 27th in Fairway hits and 34th in Scramble percentage. With the wooded Hornets Nest track, this may create a difficult space for Wysocki to succeed in October.
Wysocki is going to need to put together a consistent performance in Charlotte and move past his up-down stats sheet to have a shot at the Pro Tour Championship.
A New Track Feels Like Home
One path for success for Wysocki is his practical home-course advantage. Wysocki is in the same position as McBeth, where the last PDGA round he played on the Hornet's Nest track was 2012 Pro Worlds. The difference, Sockibomb will only 45 minutes away from his previous home of Fort Mill, South Carolina. If 2017 Worlds showed us anything, if it's within driving distance, Sockibomb's family is going to show up in force. For Wysocki, the Tour Championship is going to bring out family and fans to cheer him on. On top of that, one would expect Wysocki will have some familiarity with the course which could help spell success when it comes time for the Tour Championship.
The track is still being finalized thanks to John Houck and the Charlotte Disc Golf Club. A special thanks to Mark Huether, Charolette club Director of Operations. As we make final adjustments to the course, Touring MPO and FPO players are slotted to give their final stamp of approval. Be watching for an official course layout announcement by sometime next week. Get ready to watch the 2019 Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship October 18-20th in Charlotte, NC at the Hornets Nest Disc Golf Course.
This year McBeth repeated his first in Tour Standings finish from last year while also becoming a 5X European Open Champion and a 5X World Champion. By most accounts, he has had a dominating season, one that comes after switching sponsors before the start of the year. Over the past two years, one event has eluded Paul's grasp which leads us to the question, can McBeth regain the Tour Champion title this year in Charlotte?
Last year staff writer Zach Podhorzer questioned whether or not a win at the 2018 Tour Championship would elevate McBeth to GOAT status. Spoiler Alert, he did not win, and in fact, he did not make it out of the semifinals.
Looking towards this year's event in Charlotte, let's look back to McBeth's previous Tour finishes. In 2016 McBeth skipped Silver Cup and carded two 12th place finishes at Pro Tour events to lead him to finish 5th in Pro Tour Standings. He would rebound from a 4th place finish at GMC to win the Tour Championship hosted at Smuggler's Notch. In 2017 McBeth would come in second in Tour Standings to Ricky Wysocki and proceed to also take second place at the Tour Championship to the Sockibomb. Last year, McBeth finally achieved first in Tour Standings but would fall in the semifinals to Chris Dickerson and Simon Lizotte. This year McBeth will have a second opportunity to unite the crowns much like Wysocki did in 2017.
A Dominant Season Signals Potential Success
Let's start by looking at Tour Standings. This year McBeth won the points race by a 178 point margin. In 2018 he only won by a 106 point margin. Neither margin was as much as Wysocki's 218 point margin of victory over McBeth in 2017. In 2017 Wysocki was able to unite the crowns, and if points are an indicator, McBeth should be on track to do the same this year.
Beyond the points, McBeth has the most 1st place finishes on the Pro Tour ever amassed by one MPO player during the regular season of the Disc Golf Pro Tour. McBeth won six Pro Tour events this year, the previous record on the MPO side was three which McBeth had last year, and Wysocki did in both 2016 and 2017. This event dominance helps to set the tone for how one might expect this year's championship to unfold.
On top of points and event dominance McBeth also dominated in the stats category which we can look at thanks to Udisc. McBeth led the Tour in C1 and C2 in regulation. His accuracy off the tee was vital in his multiple wins this year. McBeth's performance this year reinforces an article series from Ultiworld about how the adage should be to drive for dough and putt for show. McBeth also led in the Birdie percentage category (probably thanks to his -18 performance at Waco). Finally, McBeth took second in C1x putting at Pro Tour events only to Eagle McMahon. This second-place finish may not be a fair assessment of stats given how McMahon played three fewer tournaments than McBeth. However, all of these stats help reinforce the dominance McBeth had this season in the stats category.
A New Track Creates Uncertainties
One uncertainty for every player will be playing on the Hornets track in Charlotte this October. After playing two years at the New World Disc Golf Complex in Jacksonville, FL, it will be interesting to see how the players take to a more wooded, traditional disc golf track. On the Pro Side, the last time a major event took place in Charlotte was 2012 Pro Worlds which Paul McBeth won by five throws. During that event, Hornet's Nest was only played by the pros during the finals round. The final nine was a modified course layout that incorporates some of the holes which will be in play at the Tour Championship. The only player in the MPO finals to gain strokes on Paul was Ricky, but at that point, McBeth had a large enough lead to still bring home the win.
Hornet's Nest is currently being reviewed by top pros in both the MPO and FPO field to finalize a Tour Championship worthy layout at the Hornets Nest course. We are looking forward to seeing how all of the Pros tackle the challenging wooded track October 18-20th. Keep checking back here as we will be releasing more preview articles leading into the event.
With one event left in the regular season for the Disc Golf Pro Tour now is the time to look at the stakes for different players vying for position at the Tour Championship in Charlotte, NC in October. A majority of players have already secured their spot in the Championship. However, more than a few players are trying to get a last-minute push to either grab a bye or move into one of the final qualifying spots.
As a refresher, the Tour Championship includes the top 32 men and the top 16 women in Tour Points gained from each tour stop this season. With ten events across the season, the lowest three finishes are dropped from the player's total tour standing. For the men, there are four rounds, described as follows: a qualifying round of the men ranked 17-32, a quarterfinals round which includes the top eight finishers from the qualifying round and then players ranked 9-16. Round three is the semifinals which consist of the top eight finishers from the quarterfinals and players ranked 1-8. The finals this year will be the top four players based on their scores from the semifinals round. The final round structure is a change from previous seasons when players have won their cards to advance. On the FPO side, there are only three rounds. Round one consists of players 5-16 playing for the top spots to move into the semifinals round. Rounds two and three unfold the same as rounds three and four do for the men.
With a brief refresher under our belts, let us dive into the women's division. Currently, our top four women with a bye are Paige Pierce, Catrina Allen, Sarah Hokom, and Jessica Weese. With a third drop, both Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen will be dropping second-place finishes (or their finish at GMC). If Pierce takes first place, she will end up with a perfect season score of 700. If Allen wins this weekend, she will end up with 645 points which is not enough to catch Paige Pierce. With first and second place locked positions 3-6 are anyone's game between the players in those positions. If Sarah Hokom can finish in the top seven at GMC, she will replace an 8th place finish. Replacing that finish would allow her to maintain her current point position. Assuming Jessica Weese does not complete the tournament in 6th place or better at the event. Only fifteen points separate Hokom and Weese which is not as close at the point differential between Weese and Cox. The more exciting spots are fifth and sixth, which are only a few points behind third and fourth. If Rebecca Cox finishes in fifth place or better and Weese ends in a tie for eighth or worse Cox can move into the top four. Lisa Fajkus is a longer shot in sixth place. She is looking to drop a 14th place finish from her record. If Lisa puts together a podium finish at GMC that would add thirty points to her final standings which could catapult her into a top-four finish for the season.
While spots 3-6 are interesting, the middle of the pack on the FPO side will not see much movement. It would take a significant swing in the division for anyone to jump into the top six. Currently, in seventh and eighth place Madison Walker and Paige Bjerkaas will not be playing the GMC. However, they are both in a position to make the Tour Championship due to their current points standings. Holly Finley and Kona Panis are the only players currently qualified looking to replace points. Given their current positions in the standings the best either player could do would be to move up spots into seventh or eighth place with podium finishes.
Currently on the outside looking in are Hannah McBeth, Charlotte Towle, Courtney Cannon, and Deann Carey. Hannah McBeth is presently 27 points behind Ellen Widboom who is on the bubble at 16th in Tour Standings. That being said, Lauren Butler is not playing the event and as such will finish the season with 246.5 total points. If Hannah can finish in the top seven at GMC, she would be able to beat Lauren Butler out on points and make the tour championship. For the other three players on the outside looking in, the path to the Tour Championship is significantly more difficult. Charlotte Towle is right behind Hannah in Tour Standings but at another 7.5 points back would need a miracle performance at GMC to move into a qualified spot. Charlotte, Cannon, and Carey are all looking to advance their position in final standings to receive an invite to the Tour Championship should someone qualified not be able to attend.
On the MPO side, things are a little more complicated when looking at who will be in the Tour Championship. McBeth currently has the Tour Points Title locked. Wysocki is sitting pretty comfortable in second place. The only way he could be caught being a 10th or worse finish coupled with a podium finish from Kevin Jones or Simon Lizotte. Kevin, Simon, and Double G will be playing each other to determine who will be taking the third-fifth place spots going into the Tour Championship.
Eagle McMahon will not be in attendance this weekend and potentially will not be attending the Tour Championship. His absence could be a wildcard factor come Tour Championship time. For the time being this means if Adam Hammes can make a top-three finish this weekend, he could garner a bye to the semifinals. What is more likely would be Adam overtaking James Conrad or Calvin Heimburg with a finish better than theirs this weekend. Hammes is looking to replace a 37 while Conrad is replacing a 12.5 and Heimburg is replacing a 25.5. While this will be an uphill battle, it is within the realm of possibility as there have been a few events this season where Hammes has outplayed one or both of them.
Outside of Hammes looking to move into the bye to semifinals, players in the quarterfinals bye spot are looking to maintain this weekend. Emerson Keith will not be in attendance and as such will be passed and moved down into the qualified section of the Championship. Austin Hannum and Reid Frescura will both be playing to stay in the quarterfinals bye position. Chris Clemons and Drew Gibson will both be looking to move into those positions. Clemons will be looking to replace 19.5 Tour Points this weekend. Drew Gibson will be building on his current point totals after being injured early in the season and missing a few events. All Drew needs is a top 20 finish to make it into a quarterfinals bye. Clemons will need a top twenty finish and have Frescura, Hannum, or Gibson finish worse than him to make it into a quarterfinals bye.
It is the players looking to make it into spots 17-32 where things get complicated. There are nine players on the outside looking in currently. The longshot of those is Paul Oman. Paul Oman would need a first or second-place finish this weekend to qualify for the Tour Championship. Next would be Zach Melton. He can make it comfortably into the Tour Championship with a podium finish this weekend. With a fourth-place finish at DGLO this year this does not seem out of the question.
Outside of the longshots, there are now seven players who have a slightly easier chance at making the Tour Championship. Jordan Castro is replacing five points and will be seeking a top ten finish to guarantee a spot in Charlotte. Nikko Locastro is next on the list. Nikko is looking to build points, and a top fifteen finish will put him close to the Championship is not playing. Last year's Tour Champion is currently not qualified. He will also need a top fifteen finish to have a shot at making the Tour Championship this year. Dickerson was only able to play three tour stops this season due to his wife's health. He has made the trek to GMC this weekend in hopes of finishing well enough to play for another title in Charlotte. Matt Bell is one of two players who have played every Tour stop this season but is yet to qualify for the Tour Championship. Bell is replacing 3.5 points, and if he secures a top fifteen finish, he should be playing in the Tour Championship. The other player is Noah Meintsma. Noah is the closest player on the outside looking in currently 36th in Tour Standings. He is replacing 11 points and as such would need a top fifteen finish to have a shot at qualifying. The two players not mentioned yet on the outside looking in are Gregg Barsby and Trevor Harbolt. Both players are looking to add to their current standings of 136 and 141 and only need thirty or so points to push someone out of their qualified position.
It is going to be a race to the finish at Discraft's Green Mountain Championship presented by GripEq this weekend. Tune in and see if your favorite pro can make it into the Tour Championship.
The Disc Golf Pro Tour is proud to announce the location of the 2019 Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship as well as a new title sponsor for the event. The Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship will take place on October 31-November 3rd in Emporia, Kansas. The Championship will take place on the famed Jones Gold course, a 10,000ft plus merging of the Jones East and West courses. In talking about the course, Course Designer, World Champion, and Emporia Local, Eric McCabe said: "Jones Gold is one of my favorite courses I've designed. It's a combination of Jones East and Jones West Par 70 that measures in over 10,000 feet. I've been a strong advocate of utilizing this course during Glass Blown Open, but to do so, we'd lose two excellent courses. We did play a similar layout at the 2012 GBO before we needed additional courses for the 1600+ Players coming to town. The new, revised Jones Gold is by far the best test for these guys and gals. Distance helps, but pinpoint accuracy and hitting your putts is what will lead you to victory."
A move to Emporia, Kansas means a new presenting sponsor for the Pro Tour Championship as well. Dynamic Discs has stepped in as the presenting sponsor of the event. Events Coordinator Doug Bjerkaas had the following to say about DD hosting the event: "Emporia is so excited to host a showcase of the world's best disc golfers. The DGPT finals are unlike any other event that Dynamic Discs has hosted. We are up for the challenge of delivering an experience that will exceed both the players and the fans' expectations. Our efforts will be focused on not only preparing a great course for the competitors to test their disc golf skills but promoting the event to spectators to come to Emporia and witness the event live!"
Tour Director Steve Dodge offered the following comments regarding this year's location and the decision process: "The Pro Tour is excited to be partnering with Dynamic Discs and bringing the Tour Championship to Emporia. The Jones Gold course is one of the gems of Emporia that is not seen during the annual trek to GBO. It will be awesome to see the best in the world competing for the title and showcasing another amazing Eric McCabe designed course."
When considering the technicality of the Jones Gold Course and how it will showcase players' skills in a Championship fashion McCabe offered the following breakdown of holes one and eighteen: "Hole number 1 starts off BIG. We start on Jones East hole 9 and plays to hole 11, the famous Billy Engle ACE hole. The Tee shot on this hole is the most crucial, you must clear the first few Cedar trees and get far enough down the fairway to have a clear look at your second shot. Your next shot plays uphill with OB Road on the left, and Pond on the right. The fairway also slopes from left to right making the distance deceiving. We will most likely see a couple of eagles on this hole, as well as a handful of bogeys. Hole number 18 is just as challenging as the starting hole. We're playing Jones East hole 7, to hole 8. MPO this hole is going to play as a Par 4 while the FPO plays as a Par 5. Once again, the Tee shot on this hole is the most crucial. You really want to be as close to the regular course, hole 8's tee pad to attack this hole. From there you'll have to clear around 275' of OB tall grass. We'll see quite a few birdies on this finishing hole, but if your tee shot is too far left your only option will be to pitch out of the group of Pines."
Besides a passion for disc golf, Emporia is known for the weather players deal with while on the course. Doug Bjerkaas offered a ray of sunshine regarding the weather: "The average high temperature in Emporia at the beginning of November is 63°. The average low temperature is 42°. With DGPT final rounds scheduled in the middle of the day, the fall Kansas weather should be fantastic for testing the talents of the best disc golfers in the world! Worried about rain? While we can make no guarantees, the beginning of November has historically seen an 83% chance of having no precipitation...one of the least likely times of the year for rain!"
The process of choosing a site for the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship took longer than anticipated this season. The decision was prolonged due to a variety of excellent course and host options, which made it challenging to decide. The Disc Golf Pro Tour would like to thank the other locations and organizations which submitted bids to host this year's tour championship. With options in both Pennsylvania and Texas, there was a breadth of areas competing to be the host. The Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship presented by Dynamic Discs will take place on October 31st through November 3rd. Make plans to tune in and watch!
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