2017 Women’s Player Of The Year: Paige Pierce

The four-time world champion recorded one of the most dominant seasons in history

Paige Pierce was our unanimous choice for Women’s Player of the Year. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

This was an easy decision: Paige Pierce was far and away the most dominant player in the Open Women’s division in 2017 and was a unanimous choice as our Women’s Player of the Year.

Her first round of the season was rated 1001, her last 1023. In total, the Texas native accumulated 22 rounds rated over 1000, and countless more fell within striking distance of that mark. Toss in her 21 victories, three PDGA Major wins, PDGA National Tour Elite Series Points Championship, and Disc Golf Pro Tour Points Series and Tour Championships, and we were treated to a season of historic proportions.

Pierce’s 2017 started off with a bang after a 20-stroke win at the Aussie Open, the first PDGA Major of the year and her first Major win since 2015. The victory also made her just the fourth woman ever to qualify for the United States Disc Golf Championship based on score alone in one of the many qualifying events in the prestigious tournament’s 18-year history.

From there, she rattled off three straight wins at the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge, Memorial Championship, and Waco Annual Charity Open to get her National Tour and DGPT seasons starts. After her Memorial Championship victory, Pierce attributed her early season success to the confidence and support she felt after switching to Dynamic Discs.

“I don’t think that I will lose this year,” she said in an interview after the event. “I might get — the course might beat me, or I might beat myself, but I don’t think I’ll lose a tournament.”

While that early season swagger did not waver, her winning streak was cut short by a second place finish at the Open at Temple and a third place finish after the weather-shortened Nick Hyde Memorial. Undaunted, she got back on the winning wagon at the Texas State Championship with a playoff win over Catrina Allen. That started a seven-tournament winning streak, with two small asterisks1, before the PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships in Augusta, Georgia.

Pierce’s resounding win down south required her to hold off defending world champion Valarie Jenkins, and the victory elevated Pierce into elite company: She surpassed Des Reading’s three titles, tied with Jenkins’ four, and moved to within one of Elaine King and Juliana Korver’s record five championships.

After that mid-summer high, Pierce peppered in a rare fourth place showing at the Ledgestone Insurance Open before catching fire again with a comeback victory at the Vibram Open. She backed that up with another come-from-behind win — from the chase card! — at the Green Mountain Championship. That resilient theme continued, as she came back to take the lead on the third day of the United States Women’s Disc Golf Championship before running away with the win in the final round.

Pierce then made history at the USDGC, setting the mark for the highest round ever recorded by a woman at Winthrop Gold with her 1031-rated Friday performance. Pierce then closed out her season with a resounding win at the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship in Jacksonville, Florida.

Pierce’s 2017 season was unquestionably superior, and she often credited her aggressive mindset on the course for her success. Her .808 winning percentage in Open Women’s events is the highest winning percentage since Sarah Cunningham’s .813 mark in 2009.

YearPlayerTournaments PlayedTotal WinsWin %Average FinishHighest Player Rating During YearAverage Round Rating During Year
2017Paige Pierce26210.8081.385976977.4
2016Catrina Allen24190.7921.292967964.8
2015Paige Pierce28190.6781.5977971.7
2014Catrina Allen39310.7951.282973967.7
2014Paige Pierce23130.5651.739976969.5
2013Catrina Allen30170.5671.867966963.8
2012Catrina Allen36220.6111.639966955
2011Valarie Jenkins21120.5711.714968963
2010Valarie Jenkins21120.5711.619964961.3
2009Valarie Jenkins28170.6071.571967964
2009Sarah Cunningham16130.8131.686954946.9
2008Valarie Jenkins22170.7721.409963960
2007Des Reading28200.7141.357967964.6
2006Des Reading24150.6251.583967965.3
2005Des Reading26180.6921.5963955.5
2004Des Reading23180.7831.435949947.2
2003Juliana Korver23170.7391.304963955.2
2003Des Reading19120.6321.684950947.3
2002Juliana Korver31190.6131.467968966.8
2002Des Reading19120.6321.632946926.4
2001Juliana Korver31300.9681.032966963.5
2000Juliana Korver31280.9031.129958954
1999Juliana Korver29280.9661.034949947
1998Elaine King19160.8421.158940939.5
1998Juliana Korver18160.8891.167945944.5

If Pierce stays as confident and aggressive as she was in 2017, the rest of the women’s field will have just as much trouble keeping pace in 2018.

  1. The season’s second NT event, the Glass Blown Open, was shortened due to poor weather, forcing Pierce to share the win with Hannah Leatherman. Pierce was forced to drop out of the Utah Open after one round due to a family emergency. 

  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 [email protected] with tips, news and questions, and follow him on Twitter.

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