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Virtual Putting Invitational Final Weekend Preview

By Baker Helton

With the second half of the Virtual Putting Invitational starting this weekend, let’s take a moment to recap the first two rounds and preview the upcoming Elite Eight, Final Four and Championship scheduled for this weekend. 

The Format

The Disc Golf Pro Tour’s Virtual Putting Invitational presented by Infinite Discs was opened to players on a tiered registration schedule, starting with the top players on Tour in 2020. The next tier was for the top players on Tour in 2019. Between the second tier of registration and the few invites sent out via the invitational, the field filled. 

Players were then seeded by their C1 & C2 averages from 2019 and 2020. For the players that did not have enough rounds (like Yeti) or were lower in the rankings, we had two play-in rounds for MPO. These two winners filled in as eight seeds in the bracket of 32 MPO players. The FPO bracket ended up with an even-numbered 16 competitors. 

Week One Recap

The competition began last Wednesday with the play-in matches between Jay “Yeti” Reading and Brian Earhart as well as Nate Perkins and Andrew Presnell. In both brackets, the winner advanced by a margin of two points. Playing their way into the competition were Yeti and Nate Perkins. 

The round of 32 presented a flurry of competition with 16 matches to follow. 

Pools A & D

The match between Messerschmidt and Perkins, the top putter in the field advanced to the Sweet 16. Cameron has had the best putting percentages for C1 and C2 in both 2019 and 2020, and he showed it in the first match. 

While Thomas Gilbert has been participating in several different putting videos during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was no match for Dan Hastings. Dan has one of the best days of PDGA disc golf on record under his belt and is a legend in his region. A weekend warrior, he knows how to show up when it matters. He could be a darkhorse pick through the rest of the tournament.

In the third match, Kevin Jones took on 2019 Putting Champion Ricky Steehler. While he has a putting champion title, his lower seeding led to an upset when Ricky overcame Kevin by 13 points. 

Rounding out Pool A, the match between Matt Bell and Eric Oakley was set to be an exciting one. For many, it is no surprise that Matt Bell was able to win with double-digit points over Eric. Matt Bell is another contender to make a deep run towards the championship. 

At the top of Pool D was Ricky Wysocki and Drew Gibson. When Drew Gibson saw that he was matched up against Ricky, he knew it would be one of the toughest in the round of 32. We didn’t get a close match, but Ricky did put up the hottest score (45) in the round of 32, which was really fun to watch. 

The next competition between Jeremy Koling and Chandler Fry had to be one of the more fun rounds to watch. Two great personalities known for keeping the mood light, the trash talk was flowing as the “Chanimal” took down Big Jerm to move to the Sweet 16. 

In another fun round, Josh Anthon took on Chris Clemons in one of the more encouraging trash-talking sessions in the tournament. With zingers and putts to match, Josh Anthon bested Chris Clemons to advance to the next round.

Rounding out the left side of the bracket, the 2019 & 2020 Disc Golf Pro Tour Champion versus Waffle Man A.J. Risley, the Champion, showed his putting prowess. Chris Dickerson moves to the next round and looks to advance far in the tournament based on his placement in the bracket.

Pools B & C

Kicking off the right side of the bracket was a match between two putting greats. Matt Dollar, a putting legend in his own right and a champion of his local virtual putting league matched up against 5x World Putting Champion Jay “Yeti” Reading for the round of 32. Ultimately, experience bested the more recent victor, and Yeti advanced through another round. 

In a battle between two Pacific Northwest inhabitants, Scott Withers took on Paul Ulibarri. In a west coast version of Dan Hastings, weekend warrior Scott Withers took down Paul Ulibarri to advance to the Sweet 16. 

Moving on to one of the younger match-ups on the MPO side, Adam Hammes competed against Lance Brown. Adam Hammes bested Lance by double-digits. 

Rounding out Pool B was Reid Frescura and Dustin Keegan. While neither pro is widely known for putting, Reid Frescura was able to best Dustin and move on to putt another day. 

At the top of Pool C was five-time World Champion Paul McBeth versus international sensation Albert Tamm. In the closest match of the round of 32, Albert Tamm bested Paul McBeth by one point. Here’s to hoping we see a bazooka putt or two in the Sweet 16 from Albert Tamm. 

In the quietest match of the invitational, Alex Russell took on Calvin Heimburg. This competition between Innova teammates resulted in the 2020 Memorial Champion Calvin advancing to the next round. 

In another tight match, Simon Lizotte competed against Nathan Queen. While Nathan was riding a hot hand coming out of last season, the showman Simon Lizotte ultimately prevailed. 

Rounding out the round of 32 was a match between Andrew Marwede and Zach Melton. While using a cookie to mark shots has worked in the past, Andrew did not feel the cookie power in this match. Lefty Zach Melton advanced and rounds out the MPO players moving to the Sweet 16. 

MPO Sweet 16

With the round of 32 complete, the competition moved quickly to the Sweet 16 for the MPO competitors. 

Pools A & D

To kick off the Sweet 16 putting phenom, Cameron Messerschmidt took on weekend warrior Dan Hastings. In a close match, decided by two points, Dan Hastings showed how strong of a weekend warrior he is to move into the Elite 8. 

The other Pool A matchup included two putting fiends in Matt Bell and Ricky Steehler. Much like the Yeti matchups before, the putting experience of Matt Bell won out as Bell won by one point over Ricky.

In what some might think would be an easy win, Chandler Fry pulled off the upset over one seed Ricky Wysocki. Quite possibly the biggest upset of the Sweet 16, it will be interesting to see if Chandler has what it takes to go to the Final Four. 

Rounding out the left side of the bracket was a matchup between Chris Dickerson and Josh Anthon. What promised to be a solid matchup was dampened when Josh ended up competing with a sprained wrist. Unable to overcome his injury, Dickerson advanced with a 20 point victory.

Pools B & C

Pool B competition kicked off between Putting Champion Yeti and weekend warrior Withers. Withers was not able to pull off the same magic as Dan Hastings on the other side of the bracket and Yeti plays on to the Elite 8. 

In a battle between two north midwesterners, lefty Reid Frescura bested Adam Hammes by nearly double-digits. Could Reid be the Cinderella story of the invitational? Tune in this weekend to see!

Over in Pool C, Albert Tamm sought to continue his upset streak against Calvin Heimburg. Calvin stayed cool-calm-and collected to keep the course and move into the Elite 8. 

Rounding out the Sweet 16 competition was Simon Lizotte and Zach Melton. In what became the story of the competition last weekend, Simon was unable to find success in his cloth practice basket. Zach Melton added another lefty putter to the Elite 8 round. 

FPO Sweet 16

With sixteen strong competitors, the FPO bracket of the Virtual Putting Invitational did not kick-off until later in the weekend, and it did not disappoint. 

Pools A & D

Pools B & C

Elite 8 Preview

With the first weekend behind us, we can now look forward to this weekend’s competition. We will pick-up with the FPO Elite 8 Matchups first and then go into the MPO Elite 8 Matchups.

FPO Elite 8

  • Heather Young v Vanessa Van Dyken – 5/22 8 PM ET
  • Erika Stinchcomb v Hailey King – 5/22 8:30 PM ET
  • Christina Linthicum v Elaine King – 5/21 8:30 PM ET
  • Charlotte Towle v Missy Gannon – 5/21 8 PM ET

The first matchup of the Elite 8 in the bracket is between Heather Young and Vanessa Van Dyken. The matchup will be broadcast on Friday, May 22 at 8 PM ET. Heather Young is quickly becoming a fan favorite in the competition and is looking to use her calm demeanor to give her an edge in the competition. Vanessa Van Dyken can be a scary-good putter when she is on, so it should be a great match to watch!

The second matchup in the bracket will also take place on Friday between Erika Stinchcomb and Hailey King. As the second FPO matchup of the night, it should be a fun match to watch between the putting sensation Hailey King and calm and collected Erika Stinchcomb. 

The third matchup in the FPO Elite Eight is between Elaine King and Christina Linthicum and will end the first night of competition for the FPO bracket on Thursday. A match between long-time pro Elaine and Texas lefty putter Christina will make for a great way to wrap-up the FPO side of the first night of competition. 

The fourth matchup in the bracket will also kick off the FPO broadcast for the weekend. This matchup features 2019 Putting Champion Missy Gannon and Charlotte Towle, a new FPO touring pro on the scene last season. Will Missy continue putting dominance, or will a newcomer be able to advance to the Final Four? Tune in to start watching the FPO Virtual Putting action at 8 PM ET on Thursday!

MPO Elite 8

  • Dan Hastings v Matt Bell – 5/21 9 PM ET
  • Chandler Fry v Chris Dickerson – 5/21 7:30 PM ET
  • Jay “Yeti” Reading v Reid Frescura – 5/22 7:30 PM ET
  • Calvin Heimburg v Zach Melton – 5/22 9 PM ET

The first matchup of the Elite 8 will be our Thursday night MPO primetime match. Weekend Warrior Dan Hastings squares off in a match against The Woodsman and putting sensation Matt Bell. These two players have what it takes to give us one of our highest scoring matches so far in the bracket. Which one will come out on top and make it to the Final Four? Make plans to watch!

The second matchup in the Elite 8 bracket will kick off our Thursday night coverage. Chanimal, Chandler Fry, is quickly becoming a fan favorite in the competition, but he faces stiff competition against 2x Tour Champion Chris Dickerson. As we move further into the bracket, no match is a pushover, so tune in early to see which of these putters advances!

The third matchup in the Elite 8 bracket will kick off the Friday night coverage of the Virtual Putting Invitational. The 5x Putting Champion Yeti Reading squares off against lefty Reid Frescura in this matchup. Is Yeti’s putting prowess ready to take him to the Final Four, or will his shot at another putting title end here? Tune in to find out!

The final Elite 8 matchup will cap off our Friday night coverage. Close friends Zach Melton and Calvin Heimburg will be matching up to determine the last spot in the Final Four. Will the lefty Zach Melton win out, or will Young Vinny’s calm demeanor carry him to the Final Four? You won’t want to miss the entire line-up of competition in the Elite 8, but make sure you’re tuned in to watch!

Final Four and Finals

While we do not know who will be competing in the last two rounds of the tournament, we do have broadcast times. On Saturday, 5/23, Final Four coverage will kick-off at 7 PM ET with a pre-match show. At 7:30 PM ET, the MPO match between Pools B & C will take place. Then at 8 PM ET, the FPO match between Pools B & C will commence. At 8:30 PM ET, the FPO match between Pools A & D takes place, followed by the MPO Pool A & D matchup at 9 PM ET. 

The Finals will then be broadcast Sunday 5/24, starting at 7 PM ET with a pregame show, FPO Finals at 7:30 PM ET, a halftime show at 8 PM ET, and the MPO Finals at 8:30 PM ET. 

Make plans to watch all weekend as we will have players tune in to recap their matches and other disc golf personalities throughout the show to offer their takes on the competition. As a reminder, the Elite 8 will be broadcast on YouTube while the Final Four and Finals will be broadcast exclusively on the Disc Golf Network. If you do not have a DGN subscription, a new Pay Per View option will be available for $1 per day (Saturday and Sunday) for you to watch. 

This has been an exciting event. We are thankful to Infinite Discs and our other partners for supporting the Virtual Putting Invitational. We hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have, and we look forward to seeing you watching live this weekend!