Tournament Talk: Only The Best

Taking the Simon Line out of the Simon doesn't make him any less fun to watch.

Simon Lizotte. Photo: DGPT.

In the second installment of the OTB Open, formerly the San Francisco Open, we were treated to a much improved course and compelling play and finishes in both professional divisions. There are several compelling storylines to pick apart, but I’m choosing to only do two of them justice.

Shout out to AB and JK for their podium runs, and to Paige Pierce for her win, but this is the Natalie Ryan and Simon Lizotte article.

The final round in FPO was among the most exciting rounds golf we’ve seen in either division at any event this season. Natalie Ryan’s effort over the final 18 was some stone cold thrower stuff to watch, and was a bonafide historic moment–Ryan is the first publicly out transwoman to podium at a DGPT event.

Ryan has three top 10 finishes this season and has finished in the top 15 in four of her last five events. Because of her success on the course and her gender identity, Ryan has been a target of threats, harassment, and hate from both fans and fellow pros alike. The skill and mental toughness that Ryan showed over the course of the weekend at OTB is something to be admired and cheered. We are lucky to have someone like Ryan succeeding at the highest level of the game.

Over the last several events, Ryan has carved out a path towards the top of the leaderboard with an elite game off the tee that can truly challenge the likes of Pierce, Catrina Allen, and Kristin Tattar. Ryan, Maria Oliva, Ella Hansen and the Mandujano sisters, and Kat Mertsch have all burst on the scene this year in not small part because of their ability to push it down the fairway.

Meanwhile, Simon Lizotte has returned to the top of Mt. Disc Golf. In his last three events, including OTB, Lizotte has a top 10 and two podium finishes. This win at OTB marks his first win at an elite event since 2018, marking the longest-ever stretch between DGPT Elite Series wins (1,541 days).

Lizotte is an interesting case study to consider in this current era of disc golf. For many new players and fans, his vlog was likely one of their first encounters with the game. His style of play in years past was predicated on putting on a show, as much for the fans as for himself. In the time I spent with him, and in other interviews, he would straight out say that throwing the “Simon Line” helped keep him from being bored; for him, playing to win is something that took the joy out of playing.

That fun-first attitude probably earned him more money in endorsements and YouTube hits than winnings did, but it also likely led to the injury which kept him on a reduced schedule for the past two years. Throwing hundreds of trick shots a day for the vlog, and taking absurd sky routes in tournament play doubtless took a toll on his body, and it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that unless something changed, Lizotte’s best days as a top tier competitive professional were behind him. He admitted almost as much in his post round interview with the DGPT media team.

So what changed? Well, to paraphrase the words of Giannis Antetokounmpo, he’s got diapers to buy and a body to care care of.

By the eye test, I saw precious few Simon line shots this weekend. Plenty of aggressive lines and full sends, don’t get me wrong, but nothing reckless and wasteful.

On the Leonard Muise re-designed track, Lizotte managed to balance his trademark big distance off the tee with a level of restraint and control which he was always capable of but didn’t always prefer to exercise. At OTB, Lizotte went OB off the tee but once, and only ate five OB strokes, period.

A more controlled Simon is a winning Simon, and a winning Simon is more fun to watch, because it means there are more chances to watch him play.

Stray Thoughts

  • Hailey King hasn’t been much of a factor at an event this season. Not much more to add to that stray thought.
  • Paul McBeth has finished outside the top 15 in two of his last three events. The last time he had two finishes outside the top 15 in a single season was 2011.
  • The goose is loose! Aaron Gossage is having a career year. Consider this the debut of the GLI, or Goose Looseness Index. The higher the number, the better Gossage is playing and therefore the Looser the Goose. Today, we rate Aaron Gossage at a solid 8, indicating that the goose is super loose, and all baskets should be aware.
  1. Christopher Wiklund
    Christopher Wiklund

    Chris is a contributor at Ultiworld Disc Golf. He lives and works on Cape Cod in Massachusetts where he plays as much disc golf as he can, and reminds people he lives on Cape Cod. He likes spending time outside when he isn't playing video games and watching TV.



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