The final major -- and quasi-major -- of the season!
October 18, 2022 by Justin Westfall in Analysis with 0 comments
After Hurricane Ian rolled through and cut into some player’s practice time, the United States Disc Golf Championship and Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship saw four days of near perfect weather and hot scores as a result. The famous Winthrop Arena has always created a thrilling tournament environment. No matter how well a player is shooting, several holes have the ability to completely derail their week. Gannon Buhr, the 17-year-old prodigy sponsored by Prodigy, overcame a two stroke deficit to reigning European champion Niklas Anttila to win his first career major championship. Catrina Allen got off to an incredibly hot start and only needed to maintain her score after two rounds to stay ahead of the field and take down the biggest A-tier of the year.
It took a 1090 rated round, the highest of his young career, to pull ahead of Niklas Anttila and become the United States champion. In that final round, Buhr tied the new course record despite a double bogey on hole 13, collecting 12 birdies and an eagle along the way. He also went 3-of-4 putting from circle 2, not including a 70 foot throw-in on hole 1. Gannon finished the event 2nd in strokes gained tee to green, 5th in strokes gained putting, 3rd in scramble percentage and 8th in OB rate. Over the course of the week he birdied every hole on the property except for 12 and 13. Most importantly, he eagled hole 10 in three rounds and was able to save par in round two when his tee shot went out of bounds. With the win, he collects the largest payday of his career at $25,000 — not too bad for a 17-year-old high school student.
Not only was Niklas the first European to lead outright between rounds at the USDGC, he nearly went wire-to-wire. Finishing 3rd in birdies with just six over par strokes on the week, Niklas tied for the lowest OB rate in the field with just five penalty strokes. His 1065 event rating surpasses Anttila’s previous career best of 1053 at the 2021 European Championship. Anttila played fantastic and never made any big mistakes the entire event. If there’s one hole to dwell on, it’s hole 10, which Anttila played for birdie in each round, never attempting to reach the green for an eagle. He was successful in carding the birdie in each round, but he lost two strokes to Buhr by taking the safer approach. This marks Niklas’ 2nd top 5 finish at a major this year, and the $13,000 payday nearly triples his previous best of $4,500.
A podium finish at the USDGC would be worth celebrating for most players, but Heimburg is undoubtedly disappointed after letting another chance at winning a major slip away. A slow start and a triple-bogey on hole 10 took him out of contention for the win, but the story of how Calvin lost really comes down to his performance on hole 10 throughout the entire week. Vinny attempted to reach the green for eagle in each round but was only successful in doing so once. Heimburg shot seven strokes worse than Buhr on hole 10 over the course of four rounds and lost five strokes to him on Sunday alone. Calvin even out-putted Gannon this week, finishing 4th best in strokes gained with just two misses from C1. At 1060, this was Heimburg’s highest rated USDGC appearance, and his 2nd highest at an Elite Series or major this year.
McBeth’s unfinished business from the European Open remains unfinished after he failed to make a charge in the final round. However, that doesn’t mean he played poorly or even worse than his winning performance last year. With a 1057 event rating, Paul’s 2022 USDGC rating came in five points higher than his win’s rating in 2021, and it was his 2nd highest rating ever at this event. McBeth missed his first C1X putt attempt of the tournament and then went perfect the rest of the way, finishing 3rd best in strokes gained putting. Once again, he struggled to get close birdie looks: he had the 5th best C2 in regulation but was only 15th best getting to C1 in regulation.
Shooting his highest career rating at a major championship, Orum now has four consecutive top 10 finishes at majors and three consecutive top 5s. Matty-O finished 2nd in fairway hits, 5th in both C1 and C2 in regulation, and had the 3rd best OB rate. Orum shot 18-under par and bogey-free in the final two rounds, and is one of just two players who did not card a double bogey or worse all week long. The only area where he struggled was scrambling, finishing 89th and converting only 1-of-8 attempts.
Robinson has continued to improve each year he has played this event, going from 15th to 8th to 6th in the past three seasons. Isaac finished 6th in strokes gained putting and 8th in strokes gained tee to green, but he also tallied 15 OB strokes. Robinson struggled the most on hole 6, where he missed the beach and went OB in three out of four rounds. A bogey-free 10-under par final round propelled him to his best major finish to date, and his 5th top 10 finish at ES and majors this season.
Though Ricky now has seven consecutive top 10 finishes at the USDGC, this is the first year he has missed the top 5 in that span. Wysocki finished the event 3rd in strokes gained tee to green, but uncharacteristically struggled on the putting green where he finished just 29th in strokes gained. In round three alone he missed ten putts and finished the day 1-over par. That round came in at a 1006 rating, his worst day at Winthrop since 2014. Even with poor putting, Wysocki was still able to finish 2nd in scramble percentage, converting 10-of-17 attempts.
Freeman led the USDGC in strokes gained tee to green, C1 in regulation, was 2nd in C2 in regulation, and 3rd in fairway hits. Much like last year, however, his putter wasn’t up to snuff: he finished 57th in strokes gained and did not record a putt longer than 38 feet. It all clicked for him in round three, though, when he shot the “course record”1 of 12-under par with no missed putts and three converted scrambles in a row on holes 9, 10, and 11. While it wasn’t a perfect week, Freeman still averaged a 1049 event rating, the best of his career at a major championship. He now has three straight top 10 finishes at this event, and top 15s at all three majors he played this season.
Klein has struggled to throw the disc well and putt well in the same tournament all season long- USDGC was no different. Kyle led the field in fairway hits, C2 in regulation, and ranked 3rd in OB rate. Unfortunately, he failed to take advantage of all those birdie opportunities, finishing 66th in strokes gained putting, losing nearly three strokes to the field. He also had the 2nd worst scramble rate in the tournament, converting just 1-of-10 attempts. Six of Klein’s failed scramble attempts were the result of a missed putt. While he has been unable to put both phases together and compete for a win this season, Kyle has a top 10 finish and 1040+ rating in seven of his last nine ES and major events.
Undeniably the cleanest player of the week, Sexton tied for the lowest OB rate at the event and carded just one bogey and one double bogey over four rounds. He also led the field in scramble percentage, converting 5-of-7 attempts. It’s hard to believe somebody could finish 35th in strokes gained tee to green, 25th in strokes gained putting, and come out of it with a top 10 finish. Nate had only the 42nd highest birdie percentage in the field, but these stats demonstrate why it’s so important to keep the disc in bounds on this course. Sexton now has top 10 finishes at six consecutive major championships and five consecutive USDGCs.
The fairway goddess again earned her nickname at Winthrop, leading the field in fairway hits and limiting her OB strokes to 13, which ranked 5th best. Catrina also finished 2nd in birdies, C2 in regulation, and strokes gained putting. The scoring of this event was quite unusual: Allen got to 16-under par after two rounds and had a three stroke lead. She would go on to win by three strokes — with a score of 16-under par. Every player in the top 8 struggled significantly in round three in blustery conditions; Catrina’s 1-over par penultimate round was the best among them. At 997, this was Allen’s highest event rating since winning the 2021 Jonesboro Open. The $10,000 payout also matches the largest of her career, which she earned for winning the 2021 World Championship.
Tattar was in great shape going into hole 16 during the opening round, but a bogey – double bogey – quadruple bogey finish knocked her way down the leaderboard and nine strokes off the pace. Kristin led in strokes gained tee to green and was 8th in strokes gained putting, despite making just one putt from C2. She also carded 17 penalty strokes and in four rounds shot 6-over par on hole 18. Compare that to Allen, who had four less OB strokes and finished her week at even par on hole 18. She still managed to finish on the podium, keeping her perfect streak alive.
The Finnish player has been phenomenal getting off the box since the World Championship, and she continued that level of play in Rock Hill. Blomroos led in fairway hits, C1 in regulation, and OB rate with just 10 penalty strokes. Of course, the putting also continued to be sub par for Henna, who missed more C1X and C2 putts (35) than she made (26). In round two, she shot the hot round of 10-under par along with Catrina Allen and Ohn Scoggins. It came in at a 1028 rating and is the highest of Henna’s career to date. The 990 event rating is also the 3rd highest of her career; all three of those tournaments have come in just the last five weeks.
The 2021 champion had a one stroke lead going into round two but was unable to keep pace. Missy had the 2nd best OB rate in the field, but finished just 13th in strokes gained tee to green and 16th in strokes gained putting. In round three alone, Gannon missed 10 C1X putts, an area in which she’s normally quite proficient. She also converted on just 1-of-12 scramble attempts, six of those were a result of missed putts. Missy now has ten top 5 finishes on the year and has finished one spot off the podium in three of her last four events.
It’s interesting that Hailey was never a factor in this tournament, because she came away with a top 5 finish and led the field in birdies. As you can imagine a lot had to go wrong for that to be the case, she carded 20 OB strokes and had a total of 27 over-par strokes. Despite the struggles, this is King’s best finish and highest rated event since winning the USWDGC earlier this year, and her 3rd top 5 finish of the season.
Hokom was one of the players sitting up near the top after two rounds, shooting 11-under par in the opening 36 holes. She was putting well and avoiding the big mistakes, finishing the event 2nd in scramble percentage and C1X putting. Unfortunately, Sarah went on to shoot 7-over par in the final 36 holes and fell down the leaderboard into 6th place. Much of this was a result of throwing OB, she collected 11 penalty strokes in those final two rounds compared to just four in the opening two rounds. Though it’s not the result she was hoping for, Hokom averaged a 977 event rating, which is her 2nd highest of the year and best since winning the Masters Cup Silver Series event.
always a nebulous term at Winthrop ↩