The Top 10 Storylines of the 2023 European Open

From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

Corey Ellis and Kristin Tattar after winning the 2023 European Open. Photo: DGPT

The world’s best arrived in Nokia, Finland, for the second Major of the year. Barnburners, blowouts, and blowups—in my opinion, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2023 European Open.

1. Corey Ellis wins his first Major

Finland, Finland, Finland; The country where I want to be; Pony trekking or camping or just watch T.V.

Redemption. I’ve been waiting for this moment since hole 18 of last year’s MVP Open. Of course, you remember—a routine upshot goes O.B., a last-ditch putt falls short, and Corey Ellis is left with his head in his hands in the players’ clubhouse.

The camera lingered on Corey long enough to make it awkward, but it made you feel something. And you knew—if Corey could ever pull off a win—we’d be watching this montage. Well, Ellis got his first big win on one of the biggest stages. As leader after leader fell off, Corey remained steady. The upshot on 16, the drive on 17—it became clear late that he was going to do it. Roll the footage. This time there were no nerves coming down the stretch. “I’ve thrown that shot a thousand times.”

Somebody give this man an overenthusiastic high five!

2. Kristin Tattar

Finland, Finland, Finland; It’s the country for me.

If you are an American fan, chances are you didn’t get to watch much FPO action this past weekend. And yet, even if the time of airing had been more friendly to your sleep schedule, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to watch anyway. Kristin Tattar dominated. What more can be said about her consistent excellence that hasn’t been said a million times over? The tournament was basically over after the first round and certainly over after the second. Four straight hot rounds led to a 16-stroke victory, as well as the completion of a career grand slam. With no one seemingly able to make a run and get back into contention, the Paige Pierce injury loomed large. So, who is going to challenge Kristin Tattar?

3. Anthony Barela on 16

You’re so near to Russia, so far away from Japan.

Brutal. Where my schadenfreude people at? This was uncomfortable to watch. Anthony Barela was in the lead going into hole 16 of the final round. Buncr rules in play, A.B. went for the island green once—twice—three—four—five times. It was a true Tin Cup moment. All you could do was watch in silent disbelief as the tournament melted away.

A.B. has been plagued by the inability to finish a tournament. Unfortunately, this one isn’t going to go away. These shots will be playing in his mind for a while. Not to mention, they are going to show this blowup every time the lead card arrives on hole 16 of the Beast at every round of every European Open from now ‘til eternity.

4. Calvin Heimburg comes up short

Quite a long way from Cairo, lots of miles from Vietnam.

When is Calvin going to win his first Major? Calvin has been the best MPO player this season. He has certainly been the most consistent. He is the best player alive without a Major win. Calvin once again found himself in contention late, leading the tournament going into the final round. He got there by shooting a course record -12 in the third round. But… “I don’t really care that much about a course record. I’m here to win a tournament.” His words, not mine. In the final round, Calvin couldn’t get things rolling. He finished in a tie for fourth, which is fine—for Calvin, I guess.

5. Everyone in the mix

Eating breakfast or dinner or snack lunch in the hall.

MPO was incredible this weekend. It felt like everyone (other than McBeth) was in contention at one point or another. Each day ended with a different person on top—Kyle Klein (2nd), Anthony Barela (7th), Calvin Heimburg (T-4th), Corey Ellis. Some other people deserve a mention as well. Eagle McMahon (T-4th) made a valiant charge on Sunday but made a few too many mistakes to repeat. Ricky Wysocki shot the final day hot round to earn a 6th place finish; his Major drought continues. Ben Callaway, Chris Dickerson, and Bradley Williams were all able to land in the top 10 with T-8th finishes. It was near impossible to keep up with the leaderboard. Let’s hope for more of this and less of what happened in FPO.

6. Tournament thoughts

Finland, Finland, Finland; Finland has it all.

European Open is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. It is always refreshing to hit the European swing—especially during the doldrums of Midwestern tour stops. Plus, this year we have had the opportunity to watch more European disc golf and I, for one, have been a little jealous.

The Beast is a fantastic course to watch. I am critical of courses with a lot of artificial O.B., usually because of how it looks or how it is marked. But here is the best way to mark artificial O.B.: not with string or paint or sticks or stones—but by lining the O.B. with thousands of spectators. The Finnish fans make this tournament. Plus, the hole 15-18 stretch is the most exciting closing stretch of the entire tour.

7. The European Men

You’re so sadly neglected and often ignored.

As much as we like to talk about the Europeans getting to the level of the American players, they aren’t quite there yet. With Simon Lizotte back in the states, no Europeans were able to make the top 10. Finnish superstar Väinö Mäkelä fell just short in 11th. Albert Tamm (T-19th) was in the mix early, but quickly fell back. A lot of the names we’ve been watching on the ET and the EPT like Niklas Anttila (T-23rd), Lauri Lehtinen (T-26th), and Jakub Semerád (T-28th) were never a factor. I hope that we get to see an American and a European dueling down the stretch in the near future.

8. McBeth DNF

A poor second to Belgium when going abroad.

The European Open is Paul McBeth’s tournament. Since 2013, McBeth has finished 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, and the best 2nd of all time. This year, it ended with a shoulder injury DNF. So, what do we make of Paul’s European vacation? It has certainly been a roller coaster ride. There were plenty of wins, including at an Elite Series at PCS in Norway, but many thought he’d run the table. But for Paul McBeth to be a non-factor at European Open—that is strange. I don’t know what his effect has been on the European side of the pond, but his travels have undoubtably made Americans more interested in the European disc golf tours.

9. Presidents Cup

Your mountains so lofty; Your treetops so tall.

Wow! They almost pulled it off! United States had won all 10 previous Presidents Cups and were the favorites in number 11. This one came down to the final hole of the unique format. In the end, the United States players were the ones lucky enough to spray champagne and awkwardly sing We Are the Champions in front of 500 Europeans.

10. Trophy rankings

Finland, Finland, Finland; Finland has it all.

Today seems like a good day to update my trophy rankings. For one, we are just about to begin the final stretch of the season filled with massive purses, Elite+ events, playoffs, Majors, and the tour finale. Secondly, starting with Ledgestone we will need to begin the parallel, yet equal, United Series trophy rankings (please note: no cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finishing trophies of the United Series).

1. Music City Open—Gibson electric guitar
2. PCS Open—Viking axe and shield
3. Preserve Championship—bear statue
4. Cascade Challenge—ax with straps
5. OTB Open—swirly fox
6. The Open at Austin—Stetson cowboy hat
7. Beaver State Fling—disc golf Sasquatch
8. WACO—that bridge thing
9. Champions Cup—cup with chains
10. Innova Open at Texas States—belt buckle
11. European Open—big cup
12. Zoo Town Open—wooden fish
13. Las Vegas Challenge—blackened milk jug
14. Dynamic Discs Open—glass ball
15. Portland Open—bridge on square
16. Blue Ridge Championship—three-legged teardrop
17. KC Wide Open—small letters with small spade
18. New World Championships—small glass droplet
19. Lake Marshall Open—glass shape
20. Des Moines Challenge—glass cup
21. Jonesboro Open—really big little league/middle school track meet trophy

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

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