Fantasy Focus: The Memorial Championship

It's loaded at the top heading into Arizona

Cale Leiviska’s 2016 Disc Golf Pro Tour stats make him a strong play at this week’s Memorial Championship. Photo: PDGA

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The Memorial Championship Outlook

In the last five years of The Memorial Championship, there has only been five times players rated below 1000 have finished in the top 20 at the event: Anthony Barela (twice), Drew Gibson, Chris Shotwell, and Andrew Bohme. In 2013 there were no players rated below 1000 that finished in the top 20, and in 2014 and 2016 — when Gibson and Barela broke through — they quickly surpassed 1000 the same year and haven’t looked back since.

This suggests that your fantasy selections at the top of the ratings heap will be pretty important, with the difference between top players finishing in the top five or somewhere between 10th and 20th carrying more weight in men’s open, while the difference between finishing in the top three or lower in women’s open also being significant. Let’s explore those some of those decisions.

Scoring For Disc Golf Pro Tour Events

The Memorial is a Disc Golf Pro Tour event, and that comes with its own set of rules if you’re playing in the DGPT League on SkipAce (all other leagues use the standard scoring system). Players will accrue points based on the following criteria:

  • Ace: 10 pts
  • Albatross: 20 (very rare)
  • Eagle: 6
  • Birdie: 3
  • Par: 1
  • Bogey: -3
  • Double: -6
  • Worse: -8
  • Bogey Free Round: 5 points each
  • Hot Round: 8 points each
  • Finish Place: 1-5th: 20 points, 6-10: 18points down to… 46th-50th: 2points

There are both positive and negative points, plus bonuses to consider. The Memorial courses are of the “deuce or die” variety, so players who can rack up twos and avoid the bogeys at all costs will be of high value.

Pro tip: Double check the PDGA registration list for The Memorial to make sure the players you picked are signed up for the event.

Lineup Building Strategies

1) Choosing at the Top

One of the fantasy challenges this week is deciding whether to go with Wysocki or McBeth at the top. In the last five years of The Memorial, McBeth’s average finish is 1.4, with three wins and two second place finishes, while Wysocki’s average finish is 8.2 with no wins and only one top 5 finish in 2013. But, obviously, Wysocki has been playing excellent golf for quite a while now and winning just about everything. So, is it time for him to break through at The Memorial?

For our money, McBeth is the play here. His hot finish at GCC, plus his propensity for historically hot rounds at the Memorial (see below) makes him the play over Wysocki.

There are similar considerations in the Open Women’s division. Paige Pierce, Catrina Allen, and Valarie Jenkins have all finished inside the top 4 over the past five years. All three have won the event and finished runner-up in that same time period, too, and Pierce’s average finish is the best at 1.6; Allen and Jenkins are both at 2.4. So, do you pick the hot hand with the best average finish in Pierce? Or, go with Allen who came on strong at the end of last week’s GCC? Don’t count out the reigning PDGA World Champion Jenkins, either. We’re confident she can win throwing any discs she wants.

2) DGPT Scoring and the Hot Round Statistic

Two of the statistics that accumulate points in DGPT League scoring that act as a kind of bonus are the Hot Round and Bogey-Free Round statistics. A hot round is quite likely to also be one that has no bogeys, so these two categories could give some people a leg up in overall scoring. This got us thinking, who’s had most of the hot rounds at the courses played at The Memorial over the past few years?

CourseHot Rounds2016 Open2016 Open Women2015 Open2015 Open Women
Fountain HillsRound 1McBeth/LocastroCatrina AllenRicky WysockiValarie Jenkins
Vista XLRound 2Matt OrumPaige PiercePaul McBethValarie Jenkins
Fiesta LakesRound 3Sexton/McCray/BrathwaiteCatrina AllenSimon LizottePaige Pierce
Fountain HillsRound 4Lizotte/DossPierce/C. AllenPaul McBethPierce/C. Allen
CourseHot Rounds2014 Open2014 Open Women2013 Open2013 Open Women
Vista XLRound 1Philo BrathwaiteCatrina AllenNikko LocastroPaige Pierce
Fountain HillsRound 2Gibson/Schusterick/DossPaige PierceSchusterick/DossPaige Pierce
Vista XLRound 3Nikko LocastroPaige PierceDave FeldbergValarie Jenkins
Fountain HillsRound 4Dave FeldbergCatrina AllenPaul McBethPaige Pierce

Course-wise, Fountain Hills carries a bit more significance given that it is played twice. The Fiesta Lakes course has had no repeat players record hot rounds during the two years it has been played.

Over the past four years McBeth has had the most hot rounds at four, with three of those coming at the Fountain Hills course. Nate Doss also sticks out with three total hot rounds, all coming at Fountain Hills. Both Pierce and Allen have had four hot rounds each at Fountain Hills, while Pierce has had three at Vista XL to Allen’s one.

3) Deuce or die

The upshot of the Disc Golf Pro Tour: Stats. All the stats. And with the Memorial and its “deuce or die” reputation, a look at the 2016 DGPT stats for players leading in birdie percentage can be instructive. With that in mind, a few players to consider:

Cale Leiviska (1027) – The Minnesota native only took one round to thaw out at the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge before turning in a fifth place showing. He trailed only McBeth and Wysocki in birdie percentage on last season’s Pro Tour, collecting twos (or threes, as it were) on 49 percent of his holes. More importantly, he thrives on control, as his miniscule .037 OB rate led the tour. He finished 18th at the Memorial last year, but in 2014 finished in fourth.

Collin Bailey (1003) – A sneaky play for those who want to stack the tops of their lineups, Bailey comes into the Memorial placing fourth in birdie percentage on the 2016 Pro Tour. Sure, he only played two events, but at the Ledgestone Open – which more closely mirrors the Memorial than the other event he played, The Majestic – he carded birdies on 44 percent of the holes. There is some risk, though, as he brings a fairly high OB rate and has limited Memorial experience.

Jennifer Allen is a fixture in this week’s optimal lineups. Photo: PDGA

Optimal Lineups

Who is our staff putting in their lineups?

UWDG / 6,000-point leagues

Steve's Picks Alex's Picks  
PlayerRatingPlayerRating
Paul McBeth1051Paul McBeth1051
Nate Sexton1034Nate Sexton1034
Cale Leiviska1027Eagle McMahon1024
Max Nichols1006Austin Turner1009
Paige Pierce958Paige Pierce958
Jennifer Allen924Jennifer Allen924
Total6,000Total6,000

It’s experience over youth in the middle of these two lineups. Leiviska and Nichols have combined for 15 Memorial starts over the years, while McMahon and Turner have…one. We’ll see if it makes a difference.

DGPT / 6,025-point leagues

Steve's Picks Alex's Picks  
PlayerRatingPlayerRating
Paul McBeth1051Paul McBeth1051
Nate Sexton1034Ricky Wysocki1049
Nate Doss1028Nate Sexton1034
Cale Leiviska1027Austin Turner1009
Paige Pierce958Paige Pierce958
Jennifer Allen924Jennifer Allen924
Total6,022Total6,025

Not much deviation between lineups here, with the Wysocki/Doss swap looking to be crucial. The Jennifer Allen value play is key, as well.

Value Plays

Players with plenty of game-breaking potential at a lower cost

Jalle Stoor (1012) – He was definitely one of the surprises last weekend finishing in fifth at the GCC. He had three highly rated rounds (1045, 1057, 1036). Dare we say he’s hotter than a Finnish sauna? Roll with it.

Zach Melton (1010) – He proved us wrong last week after we picked him as perhaps someone to take a pass on at the GCC and he ended up in 13th. We won’t make that mistake again.

Eveliina Salonen (929) – While she struggled with her putting early on at GCC, everything really came together at the end. Her final three rounds were rated well above her current rating.

Jennifer Allen (924) – Was able to stay at the front with Pierce when nobody else could in the early rounds of the GCC. She’s had solid finishes at The Memorial in the past, registering a number of top 5s.

Deep Sleepers

Feeling bold? Stack the high end of your roster and take a risk with these players

Nate Perkins (993) – Outplayed his rating by quite a bit en route to a 19th place finish at the GCC just a few days ago. Two 1019 rounds and a 1023 round portend well for a week in Arizona.

Preston Johnson (992) – Similar to Perkins, Johnson had a good weekend in Las Vegas, placing 22nd. It could have been even bette,r save for a poor final round. The Arizona native looks to do more of the same in his home state this week.

Vanessa Van Dyken (897) – She took a pass on the GCC, but she has experience at the Memorial and is worth a gamble if you need a low cost pick.

Rebecca Cox (890) – She was here last week and finished 16th at the GCC. That might not play as well in a more shallow field, but she has the talent to shoot above her rating.

Shy Away From

A couple players to keep out of your lineups this week

Steve Rico (1024) – Rico did not tour quite as much in 2016 and in his first big event of 2017 he seems a bit rusty. His GCC round ratings were, in order: 1001, 979, 1006, 1003. He has enjoyed success at The Memorial in the past, but his last top five finish there was three years ago.

Devan Owens (1019) – Did not make the cut at the GCC last weekend and in the past and two Memorial Championships he has finished 26th and 34th.

Cam Todd (1019) – A similar case to Owens. Todd also did not make the GCC cut last weekend and at last year’s Memorial Championship he placed 42nd.

Final Thoughts

You’ll have two different modes of league scoring to consider this weekend while playing in the DGPT Fantasy League and your other regular weekly leagues. That’s a lot of different choices to make and options to consider. So, given the “deuce or die” nature of The Memorial courses, it is only appropriate that we encourage you to choose wisely.

  1. Alex Colucci
    Alex Colucci

    Alex Colucci is the managing editor at Ultiworld Disc Golf. He is a disc golfer currently living in Northeast Ohio who teaches geography sometimes. Contact him at colucc43@gmail.com with tips, news and questions, and follow him on Twitter.

  2. Steve Hill
    Steve Hill

    Steve Hill is the editor of Ultiworld Disc Golf. He provides reviews from the perspective of a low-powered player at Noodle Arm Disc Golf, and in the past served as the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Contact him at steve.hill@ultiworld.com or on Twitter.

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