The Top 10 Storylines of the 2023 Music City Open

From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

Simon Lizotte with the trophy at the 2023 Music City Open. Photo: DGPT

The sun rises over the Cumberland River, chasing away two rounds of gloomy weather and a general sense of melancholy. The earth begins to warm. Players come alive. And if you listen closely, between the birds and the breeze, you’ll hear it—the dulcet tones of a thousand roaring engines. In my opinion, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2023 Music City Open.

1. Simon Lizotte finishes strong

“I’ve been chasin’ the big wheels all over Nashville waitin’ for my big break to come.”

8 birdies. 8 birdies in a row to finish the tournament. No one saw Simon coming, including Simon himself. In his own words, “It makes no sense. It feels so weird to feel like you’re never in contention until suddenly you’re on top.” In case you were still questioning it after a second-place finish in Austin, Simon showed he will be just fine with his new bag of discs. He joined Paul McBeth and Ken Climo (ever heard of ‘em?) as the only players to win from the chase card more than once in their Elite Series career. Cue the victory lap.

2. The chase card does it again

“Livin’ on ketchup soup—homemade, crackers and Kool Aid.”

Speaking of chase card wins—for the third Elite event in a row, the MPO winner has come from the chase card. Kyle Klein did it at WACO. Gannon Buhr came back in Austin. It was Simon’s turn in Nashville. That’s tied for the most Elite event chase card wins in an entire season (2010)—and we’re only 4 events in. There is really no argument anymore; live is the best option for tournament consumption. That said, it has really been a wonderful year for Gatekeeper Media. Other than an unfortunate shot to the skull, they’ve had all the luck. Jomez’s Big Jerm bemoaned during his tournament sign-off, “Maybe we’ll be able to bring you guys the action of the winner one of these events, who knows?”

3. Kristin Tattar back on top

“I look good in cowboy clothes, and I sing through my nose. Webb said, “That’s the way to get ‘er done.”

Kristin Tattar returned from a quick trip to her home in Estonia, ready to tackle the next string of tournaments. She sorta just hung around for the first two rounds, starting the final round in fourth place. In the end, Kristin showed her greatest strength: unwavering consistency. The more rounds you play, the harder it is to keep up with her. She just goes and goes and goes. It feels like eventually she will always pull away. That is what happened this weekend. Kristin ended up coasting to a 5-stroke victory. The world’s most dominant (and popular) player is back where she belongs. Oh, and her new podium streak is up to 2.

4. The also-rans

“I smoke good old PA like the Opry stars, they say.”

Wow! This did not feel like Simon’s tournament until the final handful of holes. So, here are some shoutouts. Early in the tournament, most of the focus fell on home state hero, Chris Dickerson. When he faded early in round 3, things got interesting. Anthony Barela looked like he might finally get that Elite victory. Calvin Heimburg continued his incredible season, charging from the chase card before Simon did it better. Gannon Buhr seemed best positioned to hold court from the lead card, but a strange O.B. bounce on 17 ended his hopes of catching the leader.

FPO told a similar story, with lots of players in the mix throughout the weekend. Before Kristin took home the win, Tennessee native Macie Velediaz looked to be the star of the show. Holyn Handley seemed like she might continue the FPO unique-winners streak. Jen Allen had her best tournament in years, while Rebecca Cox had her best round. And uh-oh, Eveliina learned how to putt?

5. James Proctor shout out

“Well, a friend of a friend of mine is a friend of Ott Devine’s and he finally got me on the Opry show.”

OK, it’s time we talk about James Proctor. He hasn’t won yet this season, but—outside of Calvin Heimburg—he has been the most consistent player on tour. Much of his career has been locally based, but he has been very good for a very long time. Now on tour full time, Proctor has come into his own. He is currently sitting in third place in Pro Tour points, only behind Heimburg and Ezra Aderhold. If it weren’t for the wrap-around events, he would be in second place. And be honest with yourself, you can’t even name the wrap-around events anymore. Proctor’s finishes this year: T14th, T10th, T3rd, 4th and 6th.

6. Paige Pierce way out of contention

“I walked out like a star, tripped, and busted my guitar.”

Paige Pierce won her last event. This week she finished tied for 27th place, 22 strokes behind the winner, and outside of the cash line. What is happening? Sure, the FPO field is deeper than ever, but it’s not that deep. Paige Pierce is too talented to lose this badly on a course that fits her skillset.

7. Meh City Open

“Well now, here’s a song I wrote by myself, note for note.”

What a slog! Let’s be honest, here. This tournament was a total dud through two rounds. The course was wet and muddy. The players looked like they weren’t really having any fun. It took 4 hours to play a single round and it felt like 14 to watch it. I don’t know what it was about this course, but it could not hold my interest. I found myself sitting up straighter in my chair for the divisive hole 3, watching with morbid curiosity as I hoped for the excitement of someone smoking first available.

8. The return of Ricky Wysocki

“With a lot of help, it might make Number One.”

With an amazingly well-timed DNF in the rearview, Ricky Wysocki made his official return to competition this week—for real this time. Seriously! Come on, you didn’t think the last return actually counted, did you? Ricky was a little bit off all weekend, but not bad enough to keep him from finishing. All joshing aside, I’m glad to have Ricky back in the top 10 and back in competition. Let’s hope he stays healthy! Disc golf is better when the reigning Pro Tour champion is on our screens.

9. Trophy Power Rankings

“You can change a word or two and I’ll give half of it to you.”

Looking at his newest trophy, Simon smiled and said, “Now I need an amp.” How often do trophies inspire you to purchase more things so that the trophy itself can become even more awesome? Let’s check in on this year’s trophies with a quick power ranking. Yes, I’m now doing a list within a list. Sue me.

1. Music City Open—Gibson electric guitar
2. The Open at Austin—Stetson cowboy hat
3. WACO—that bridge thing
4. Innova Open at Texas States—belt buckle
5. Las Vegas Challenge—blackened milk jug
6. New World Championships—small glass droplet
7. Lake Marshall Open—glass shape

10. The year’s first major is here

“Yes, I’ll be a star tomorrow, but today I’m a Nashville bum.”

It feels like the season has only just begun. And yet, here we are. The first major is just around the corner. Here’s who I think will be getting crowned at W.R. Jackson:

  • Calvin Heimburg. I know, obvious pick. But how can you pick against Calvin right now? He is good at everything and becomes harder to beat the more rounds there are. Had MCO been 4 rounds, I think it would have been Calvin on top.
  • Ohn Scoggins. Destroyers on controlled flex lines through the woods? Yes, please. Wobbly ducks hitting chains from circle’s edge? Give it to me. I’m looking for Ohn to get her first Elite FPO win.

Thanks for reading, everyone! Let me know the storylines you think I missed. See you in Georgia!

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