On a course with myriad holes that can ruin a round, who will persevere?
October 5, 2021 by Bennett Wineka and Jacob Wilkins in Preview with 0 comments
Coverage of the 2021 USDGC and TPWDGC is presented by Skybreed Discs.
The United States Disc Golf Championship at Winthrop University is an institution. A week-long disc golf festival in Rock Hill that bridges a generational gap that has gotten larger in recent years. With the addition of the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship, a full field of Open Women’s competitors rounds out the event to make it more inclusive than ever.
What’s as big of a tradition as USDGC itself is the hand wringing beforehand. This year fans mocked the addition of five “driving posts” off the tee on hole 9, and the price for an event-only pay-per-view, a practice that has been happening for several years.
Fortunately, the PDGA Major always seems to deliver in terms of on-course drama. The last two versions almost saw final round comebacks as the leaders and eventual winners struggled to hang on. Over par rounds are common from top-rated pros. All those added elements of extra difficulty, as contrived as they sometimes seem, often pay off.
Now that FPO has its own annual showcase at Winthrop with the TPWDGC, even if it doesn’t hold the same status as a Major, we get to see another side to the Arena course and a new set of characters write their own stories on the course.
The close to the regular season was unpredictable in its results, but this week offers players a chance to leave a mark on 2021. Do we see a first-time Major winner crowned, like we have in four of the last five USDGCs? Or does another piece of hardware get added to an already stacked cabinet?
Past USDGC Winners
|2020||Chris Dickerson||Calvin Heimburg|
|2019||James Conrad||Jeremy Koling & Nikko Locastro|
|2018||Paul McBeth||James Conrad|
|2017||Nate Sexton||Ricky Wysocki|
|2016||Jeremy Koling||Nikko Locastro|
|2015||Paul McBeth||Ricky Wysocki|
|2014||Will Schusterick||Paul McBeth & JohnE McCray|
|2013||Steve Brinster||Barry Schultz & Steve Rico|
|2012||Will Schusterick||Ricky Wysocki|
|2010||Will Schusterick||Nikko Locastro|
|2009||Nikko Locastro||Dave Feldberg|
|2008||Nate Doss||Avery Jenkins|
|2007||Ken Climo||Avery Jenkins|
|2006||Barry Schultz||Brian Schweberger|
|2005||Dave Feldberg||Scott Martin|
|2004||Ken Climo||Darrell Nodland|
|2003||Barry Schultz||Ken Climo|
|2002||Ken Climo||Barry Schultz|
|2001||Barry Schultz||Ken Climo|
|2000||Ken Climo||Al 'Sugar' Schack|
|1999||Ken Climo||Al 'Sugar' Schack|
What We’re Watching
- Ricky Wysocki is no. 1 in our Power Rankings yet again, still calls South Carolina “home” on his PDGA page, and has been close to winning USDGC in the past, so is 2021 finally the year? With wet weather in the forecast — again — we may see Raincoat Ricky rise to the occasion.
- It will be almost two months since Paige Pierce last won a traditional format event, but no other player in the TPWDGC field has as much experience on Winthrop as she does. Pierce is never one to back down from the added pressure of a big stage, so even if it’s not a Major for the FPO division, she’ll probably be at her best as she takes on the Arena.
- Another season with rain in the forecast. Straight through Saturday looks to be soggy, and while it certainly has added drama in recent years, it also can lead to unfortunate bad breaks you hate to see at an event of this prestige.
GRIP6 Pick 6 Locks Of The Week
Can you believe Calvin Heimburg has only won two traditional format events this season? He got a nice payday at the DGPT Match Play Championship, but he’d probably prefer a U.S. championship ring to go with those 12 other top five finishes. Heimburg doesn’t rely on a sidearm as much as some other players who find success here, but he’ll have plenty of open air to attack with his directness. He also should have a chip on his shoulder from a flaming hot final round last year that almost ended in a victory.
Without much history to go on at Winthrop for the FPO field, it’s easy to default to last year’s champ, Paige Pierce, who also has several years experience as an invited participant and Monday qualifier for USDGC. We’ll ride the hot hand, though, and go with Hailey King as the player to watch. She had one of her lowest rated rounds of her year on Winthrop last year while playing 32 strokes worse than Pierce, yet we’ve seen King’s maturity grow throughout the season.
USDGC: Rounds 1 & 4 – par 66, 9,886 feet; Rounds 2 & 3 – par 66, 9,788 feet
TPWDGC: Rounds 1 & 4 – par 68, 8,741 feet; Rounds 2 & 3 – par 68, 8,746 feet
If you like watching the disc fly, you’ll like Winthrop. If you like watching players hit narrow targets and landing zones, you’ll like Winthrop. If you prefer woods golf and hate “artificial” OB, then maybe you don’t love Winthrop so much. Sometimes called the US Sidearm Championships, the course traditionally plays well for a lefty backhand or righty forehand player.
A broad upper-level cutoff low will transition to more of an open wave throughout the weekend. This will lead to moisture transport from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean Wednesday, and then just the Atlantic Ocean Thursday through Saturday. This will lead to a plume of moist air sitting on the North Carolina and South Carolina border. Daily showers and thunderstorms will be possible for the tournament, especially during the warmest part of the day. Rain could be heavy in the strongest showers and storms.
Wednesday: Isolated showers and thunderstorms possible. The best chance may be in the afternoon and evening. Highs will top out around 80°. Easterly wind of 5 to 10 mph possible.
Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms possible. Highs top out in the upper 70s. Northeasterly wind of 5 to 10 mph possible.
Friday: Showers and thunderstorms possible. Highs top out in the upper 70s. Northeasterly wind of 5 mph possible.
Saturday: Isolated showers and thunderstorms possible. Afternoon highs top out in the mid 70s. Northeast wind of 5 to 10 mph possible.