2021 DGPT Championship Preview: The $30K Bracket Challenge

The alternate format has seen several pros get their first signature win in the past

The post-USDGC event slot has never been an enviable one. It’s difficult to follow one of the sport’s premier tournaments, but the DGPT Championship has found a way to keep the energy level up: don’t leave the area, change the format, and fill the purse.

For the second consecutive season, the DGPT Championship will be awarding the largest individual cash prize to both the winner of the MPO and FPO brackets, a cool $30,000. Finish in the top three and you’ve got at least $10,000. A large percentage of the field will have its highest payout of the season by virtue of attending. Think of it as the reward of making it to the finish line.

With the top four scores each round advancing through the brackets, players don’t have the be the best every day, and everyone in the Tour Championship is capable of dropping the hot round at any given time.

The Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship has been a breakthrough event for pros looking for that first signature win, but the seasoned vets won’t be easy to get past when this much cash is on the line.

The Format

As we touched on earlier, the Championship takes on a format we only see once a season. Players are seeded based on tour points standings, with the top 16 Open and top four Open Women players receiving byes to various rounds. The lowest four scores advance each round regardless of the card, and tiebreakers are decided by overall seed.

Thursday’s opening round features Open players ranked 17-32, with the top four scores meeting Open players ranked 9-16 in the quarterfinals on Friday. Open players ranked 1-8 have a bye to the semifinals on Saturday, and four players make the finals on Sunday. For Open Women, players ranked 5-16 meet in the quarterfinals on Friday, with the top four scores advancing to meet the top four ranked players in the semifinals Saturday, with four advancing to the final Sunday.

Past Winners

 OpemOpen Women
2020Kevin JonesHailey King
2019Chris DickersonCatrina Allen
2018Chris DickersonSarah Hokom
2017Ricky WysockiPaige Pierce
2016Paul McBethCatrina Allen

What We’re Watching

  • Since the Tour Championship went to a four round format in 2017 for the Open division, at least one player from the opening round of play has advanced all the way to the finals in three of the four seasons, and twice that player won the entire thing — Dickerson in 2018 and 2019. Something can be said for having some competitive rounds under the belt in a best-score advances tournament rather than early round byes. This year’s no. 17-32 ranked players includes former Elite Series winners, locals, and lefties that could have the X-factor needed to make a run. Lisa Fajkus is the only FPO player to advance from the quarterfinals to the finals since 2017 and has done so twice.
  • Players have been grinding it out almost every weekend since February, with many of the pros in Charlotte either approaching or already over the 30 event mark in 2021. Even with the end in sight and a large payout for making it to the finals, guaranteed pay days for qualifying could have players taking their foots off the gas if they get down early in the round.

Bushnell Bracket Busters

First off, if you did fill out a bracket already and it included Eagle McMahon, you may want to go back and edit with the no. 2 sitting out due to injury.

If you’re looking for that player to break out of the opening round in MPO, Bradley Williams may be your guy. Remove a 57th place finish at the MVP Open, a course where he had previously won an Elite Series event, and Williams hasn’t finished lower than 18th over a nine event stretch since the calendar turned to August. Two of those nine events were A-tier wins, and three were top 10s at Elite Series stops. Hornets Nest should play to Williams skillset as well.

Defending champion Hailey King playing in the quarterfinals is an obvious bet to make a run to Sunday. Looking elsewhere, Holly Finley has advanced out of the opening rounds on this course in 2019 and 2020, and has one of only eight under par rounds turned in by the division over the past two years.

The Course

Hornets NestMPO – 9,164 feet, par 62; FPO – 8,159 feet, par 65

Hornets Nest has a long tradition in Charlotte, and luminaries such as John Houck, Jeremy Koling, Madison Walker, and Steve Brinster have all had input on the current course layout, with the Charlotte Disc Golf Club helping to institute many of the changes.

The front 9 lets the players air out the disc a couple of times, and includes an island on hole 2. The back 9, with the exception of the long hole 12, is much more wooded, like the NC golf you’ve heard tell of. Who are we kidding, there are trees everywhere.

View the 2021 DGPT Championship Caddie Book

Extended Forecast

High pressure will lead to nice and warm conditions Thursday and Friday. The average high temperature of 72° will be bested by some 15° on Thursday and Friday. A cold front will move through the region Saturday, providing a chance of isolated showers. Fortunately the better chance of rain should remain to the east of the region. This cold front will knock temperatures to slightly below normal on Sunday.

Thursday: A light north breeze will accompany a high around 86°.

Friday: A light southerly breeze may help temperatures to a high around 87°.

Saturday: Isolated showers will be possible as a cold front moves through. Westerly winds of 10 to 15 mph will be possible as temperatures drop after a high in the upper 70s around noon.

Sunday: Afternoon highs will top out in the upper 60s, accompanied by a chilly northwest wind around 5 to 10 mph.

How To Watch

How To Watch The 2021 Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship

  1. Bennett Wineka
    Bennett Wineka

    Benn started playing disc golf in the '90s but has somehow never gotten any better. He lives in Decatur, Georgia and cares too much about Atlanta United and UNC basketball. Email him at bennett@ultiworld.com

  2. Jacob Wilkins
    Jacob Wilkins

    Jacob Wilkins is a disc golfer from Bowling Green, Kentucky who has a bachelor of science degree in meteorology from Western Kentucky University. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram for a solid mixture of disc golf and weather.

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