The Top 10 Storylines of the 2023 Champions Cup

From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

Isaac Robinson, 2023 Champions Cup winner. Photo: DGPT

The world’s best disc golfers—at least the ones who registered on time—descended on the International Disc Golf Center for the year’s first major. Their eyes began to focus on the weekend’s most coveted, realistic prize—second place. In my opinion, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2023 PDGA Champions Cup.

1. Isaac Robinson gets his first major

“He said he’s going back to find what’s left of his world—the world he left behind not so long ago. He’s leaving on that midnight train to Georgia. Said he’s going back to a simpler place and time.”

It was a slow start to the season for Isaac—82nd at Las Vegas, 45th at WACO, 25th at Austin, 52nd at Texas States. He seems to be back on track, racking up three straight top-10 finishes. This weekend was reminiscent of last year’s excellent Idlewild performance. It all comes down to this: when Isaac Robinson is on, it feels like nobody can touch him. Even the tree kicks seem to land in his favor. He shredded the woods, led wire-to-wire, and made W.R. Jackson look like my local 9-hole. What a homecoming for the first-time major winner!

2. Redemption for Kristin Tattar

“And I’ll be with him on that midnight train to Georgia.”

Last year, Kristin Tattar gave this major away. This year, she won by 14 strokes. Is there anything else that needs to be said? When you see Kristin play this well, you begin to wonder if she will ever lose another tournament. Obviously, she will lose eventually. Something has to happen…right? Then again, how bad would she have to play? By Tattar’s standards, even on a weekend when she is off her game, she is still the clear favorite. Watching her this weekend was watching excellence, but I wouldn’t blame you if you turned off FPO after the second round. It was already over.

3. Silas Schultz steals the show

“He kept dreaming, oh, that someday he’d be a star.”

If you knew Silas Schultz before this weekend, it was probably as a side character in the Alden Harris vlog or as that guy with the cool Instagram. But with MPO and FPO blowouts, it was Silas Schultz who kept things interesting. The audible snap as he launches discs through gaps harder than anyone else, the thrift store headgear, confidently picking up his mini before the putt hits chains—he has an undeniable swagger that we don’t see often in disc golf. For a brief moment on Sunday, he even made us believe he could run Isaac down from the chase card.

4. We’ve been spoiled

“Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through; just an old, sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.”

We’ve been spoiled this year. In MPO, we have had 3 winners come from the chase card. Leaderboards have been a glorious, jumbled mess. There have been five different winners at each of the five Elite Series and Majors. On the final day, it feels like everyone is still in it. So, when Isaac Robinson begins the final day with a seven-stroke lead, it is hard to be excited. We’ve been spoiled this year. Think about FPO. It wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about the streak of unique winners—6 different winners in the first 6 events. Now Kristin has won three straight, and there is no reason to believe that streak will end anytime soon. Cue the world’s smallest violin.

5. Battling for second

“I said a-Georgia, Georgia, a song of you comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines.”

With first place in the bag, most of the excitement came from the battle for second place. Here are some people that deserve a shout out. In FPO, Ohn Scoggins took down second, with a consistent (albeit out of contention) performance. Cat and Kat had moments of brilliance, mixed in with average play. And it was wonderful to see Hailey King hanging around, looking comfortable and confident. Cat, Kat, and Hailey tied for 3rd place. In MPO, Niklas Anttila showed us once again that he shines brightest in the biggest events. He tied for 2nd place with Eagle, who just did too little, too late.

6. Winners

“Other arms a-reach out to me.”

Isaac and Kristin weren’t the only winners this weekend. Congratulations are in order for the following:

  • Discmania—they may have lost Simon but still had 3 players in the top 4
  • Prodigy—they’ll be glad to make a congratulations post that won’t be completely filled with “Free Gannon” comments
  • European men—two top-10 finishes (Anttila, Makela) and a course record from Joona Heinanen
  • Climo’s major record

7. Losers

“Other eyes smile tenderly.”

Where there are winners, there must be losers. Thoughts and prayers for:

  • Fans hoping Calvin or Simon could finally bring one home
  • High-definition broadcasts
  • Everyone involved with the FPO play-in event

8. The play-in

“Still, in the peaceful dreams, I see the road leads back to you.”

Speaking of the play-in…the weeks leading up to Champions Cup centered on one thing: the waiting list. It was the greatest play-in tournament roster of all time: world champion (and hitter of the most famous shot ever) James Conrad, Ezra Aderhold (then 3rd place in tour points), renowned DJ Kevin Jones, and more. Whose fault was it? The players? The PDGA? Yes. And who cares? Ezra and KJ didn’t even make it in and the only player that ended up mattering was Conrad. He made his way to final day lead card but ultimately fell out of the top 10. I don’t think this will happen again anytime soon—everyone involved wants the most well-known players competing.

9. No-shows

“I said, Georgia, oh, Georgia, no peace I find; just an old, sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.”

Take a look at the top 10 finishers. Where were all the big names? Well, some were actual no-shows. Ricky’s wrist is seeming like less of a flareup and more of a constant, while Val Mandujano is still waiting to make her Discraft debut. Paige Pierce should have followed their example. She tried to play through injury but ended up missing cash. Others were present but largely irrelevant: Dickerson, McBeth, Heimburg, and Lizotte all missed the top 10. When is the last time that happened in a pro tour event? Never.

10. Entering phase 2 of the season

“I said, just an old, sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.”

There are 11 events before our next Major at the European Open. Let’s make some predictions for this next and longest phase of the season:

  • Kristin will win 6 of the 7 events she is registered to play
  • Paul, Ricky, and Eagle will combine for 1 (pro tour) win over that time period
  • Ella Hansen will be second in pro tour points going into the European Open

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

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