The 10th edition of the European Open kicked-off on Thursday, completing the disc golf calendar 793 days after the PDGA announced the suspension of the Major and Elite Series events in the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
With 142 players from 14 countries and over 5,000 spectators expected throughout the week, the 2022 edition promises to raise the bar once again for an event that has consistently delivered one of the most professional and well-attended tournaments in disc golf.
Finland Knows Disc Golf
Nokia, Finland plays host to the European Open and has hosted all 10 iterations of the event since its inception in 2006. During the player meeting on Wednesday, Jussi Meresmaa, founder of the European Open, shared with the audience that “28% of Finnish students identify disc golf as their favorite hobby.”
According to the 2021 PDGA Demographic Report, if Finland were a U.S. state, it would rank fifth in number of PDGA Members and first in established courses.
Tight Race at the Top in FPO
The top eight positions are separated by only four throws. And within those eight positions, four nations are represented. Kat Mertsch will head the lead card, joined by Finland’s Heidi Laine, Catrina Allen, and Estonia’s Keiti Tätte.
Tough Course Makes for Colorful Scorecards
Bogey-free golf was not on the menu today for the FPO field. Catrina Allen played the fewest number of holes over par with only two bogeys and two double-bogeys. She also managed to insert a lone birdie into her score for the opening day. Paige Pierce had the most birdies of any FPO competitor with four holes played under par, however, that performance was dampened by seven holes played over par, including a quadruple bogey eight on hole 18 to finish the round.
McMahon Soars to the Lead
During his press conference Tuesday, Eagle McMahon, who has been nursing an elbow injury, was careful to temper expectations in following an extended absence from the tour.
“I’m not going to say too much because I’m still going through the process. But the good news is I’m here and I’m competing,” McMahon said.
If expectations were low, they are now suddenly sky high again for the 24-year-old from Colorado who has historically played well in Europe — winning his lone major at the 2018 Konopiště Open and carrying a lead into the final round of the most recent edition of the European Open in 2019, ultimately finishing 2nd to Paul McBeth.
McMahon came out of the gate on fire, birdieing the first five holes including the 387-foot hole 2 where – declining to throw the forehand shot out of caution for the injured elbow—he threw a lefty backhand shot to within C1.
He would go on to birdie another five in a row after posting one of his two bogies on the day on hole 6, and finished with a turkey on holes 16-18 to take a one-throw lead over Paul McBeth heading into round 2.
Beast Mode Engaged, Then Stalls
Despite the hot start, McMahon was trailing the defending champion, McBeth, for most the round.
McBeth, who has never failed to win the European Open in five attempts, again looked unbeatable on The Beast course as he went 12-down through fourteen holes before taking a bogey on hole 15 and pars through the final three holes.
“I played 11 good holes, and the back half was just a little slow,” McBeth told DGN’s Terry Miller. “I need to figure out how to pick it up back there. I think the front 9 is a little bit easier, but I just saw Eagle put together a solid back 9 so that’s what I need to do.”
Joining McMahon and McBeth on the second round lead card will be two PDGA world champions in James Conrad and Gregg Barsby – winner of a memorable lead-up event last week at PCS Sula – who sit 3-back of the lead at 9-under par.
The MPO broadcast kicks-off live on the Disc Golf Network at 3pm local / 8am Eastern.