We started the season with Paige Pierce going 3-for-3 in Disc Golf Pro Tour events and 3-for-3 in National Tour events. It looked like she was on pace to win out the season. Then on the second stop of the west-coast swing, we saw a new leader at the end of the San Francisco Open: Sarah Hokom.
After SFO it was clear Paige was pushing for a win at the Beaver State Fling. However, Catrina Allen was able to force a play-off and win, reminiscent of her 2016 performance.
At the Disc Golf Pro Tour, this had us thinking – what does it take to win in the FPO division? After Paige won the first six premier events of the season, we see a mix-up at the top of the leaderboard in the FPO division. Setting aside the different course styles, we will take a look at the UDisc stats to see how Paige dominated the first half of the season and what the rest of the FPO division has done (namely Valarie Jenkins at Master’s Cup, Sarah Hokom at San Francisco Open, and Catrina at Beaver State.
Paige Pierce stats domination
At nearly every event that Paige during the beginning of the season, she owned the C1 in regulation stat. The only exception being Jonesboro. Due to the length of the course in Jonesboro, this is not surprising. What this does show is that if Paige is playing a course where she can own the C1 in regulation percentage, she will be able to win. While it is no surprise to most, this reaffirms Paige as one of the furthest throwers in the FPO division.
Valarie Jenkins gets close in Santa Cruz
In round one, Val was able to finish one throw ahead of Paige Pierce. After two rounds at Santa Cruz, Val was only four throws back of Paige Pierce going into the final day. As we know, at this point Val did not finish due to a rules violation. However, Val was leading after day one and was truly the only person in a position to catch Paige on the final day. Val was able to stick with Paige through her zero out of bounds throws, a first place scramble percentage of 71% and second place C1 putting of 94%. With the historic DeLaveaga course, the ability to stay in bounds and scramble is critical. In the case of the Santa Cruz event, Val’s scramble percentage was what kept her in the round. However, disc golf is not a game of what-ifs so let us take a look at the next two events where the leaderboard had a new person on top.
Sarah Hokom aces SFO
If you did not know, Sarah Hokom aced hole three during round two of the San Francisco Open this year. However, a two-throw swing is typically not all that it takes to win an event. Over three rounds of disc golf, there are several factors which go into winning an event. For Sarah Hokom three stats kept her clean to the win: lowest OB percentage, first in C1 in regulation, and first in birdie percentage. Very much like Val’s lack of OBs at Santa Cruz, Sarah Hokom was able to keep her drives clean from the OB at SFO and push her way into a win with an ace on top. It looks like there may be a trend here as we move into the last point of comparison.
Cat wins in a playoff
The Beaver State Fling is a tough comparison because it was decided in one hole after the regular rounds had been completed. However, some nuances helped Catrina stay in the game and ultimately win a second Beaver State Fling in a playoff against Paige Pierce. Putting and OB percentages were what helped propel Catrina to her win. Catrina had the fifth lowest OB percentage of the FPO field at Beaver State while Paige had the fifteenth.
While in most of the stats Paige and Catrina traded off one and two, in C1 and C2 putting Catrina was able to out-pace Paige. Catrina was ninth in C1 putting and fifth in C2 putting while Paige finished thirteenth and ninth respectively. So what does it take to win? Paige Pierce is known for a stable putt and her philosophy of never laying up. She was able to maintain strong C1 and C2 in regulation percentages to help propel her to her wins early in the season. As the season has progressed, competitors have been able to stay in bounds more, putt better, and increase their C1 in regulation percentages to win over Paige.
So what does it take to win?
For Paige to return to the top, she will need to increase her putting percentages, decrease her OB percentages and look to maintain her C1 and C2’s in regulation. For the field to continue to best Paige at events they have to maintain their lack of OB throws and continue to improve their putting. It is clear there are multiple stats which must come together to create a winning formula in the FPO division. While it is true, every course presents a unique layout to play, each needing an individual game plan to win, it is clear a few stats play above the rest as necessary for winning in the FPO division. Any FPO player who can avoid the OB while either making C1 in regulation or dominating C1 putting will have a clear shot at winning.
Going into Discraft’s Great Lakes Open, it looks like OB percentage coupled with C1 and C2 putting will be the difference for who wins. Due to the Europe travel schedule, we will not see Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen this weekend at DGLO, but we will have an opportunity to see not only Sarah Hokom take on the Toboggan course but Ragna Bygde Lewis and a slew of local FPO players in a full 24 player FPO field. Make sure you are ready to watch the FPO coverage starting at 2 PM ET each day.
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