DGLO Recap: Ohn Finally Gets One, Simon Back on Top

The People's Championship.

Ohn Scoggins after winning the 2023 Great Lakes Open. Photo: DGPT

Ohn Scoggins’ win this past weekend at the Discraft Great Lakes Open on the Kensington Toboggan Course near Milford, Michigan, was her first in FPO in an Elite Series or Major after 46 starts. The long wait may make it seem like a bolt from the blue, but this win has been years in the making. Since April, the Californian pro, a member of the Lao American Sports Hall of Fame, has only stepped off the podium once, and that was for fourth at the Silver Series Beaver State Fling in May.

The steady build towards her maiden FPO win included an FP40 world championship in July and has been forged on the back of some relentless consistency. Take a first pass over Scoggins’ UDisc statistics for the tournament and nothing jumps out apart from her tournament-leading 92% putting from C1X. Off the tee, she ranked 6th for fairway hits at 68% and 12th for holes parked at 10%. But the story of her win in the DGLO was told by how many times Scoggins went out of bounds: five in total for the four rounds at Toboggan. Next best was 4th place finisher Missy Gannon, who crossed the rope 7 times with Ella Hansen (2nd) raising the spotter’s red flag 10 times and Kat Mertsch (3rd) 13 times.

An indication of Scoggins’ steadily improving recent form is that her five OB throws in 72 holes at the DGLO was below her season average of 6.2 this year, a rare feat on a course with so much treachery on the fairways. Of the top contenders, it was only Scoggins and Hansen who managed to throw out of bounds less than their season average.

In short, it was an astute and conservative performance that would have tested Scoggins’ trust in her own game as, time and again, she walked the steep and wide Toboggan fairways to mark her drives well short of where her longer throwing cardmates had landed. She regularly disced down, threw a placement shot, and trusted herself to get up and down from there.

Scoggins foreshadowed the approach in the pre-tournament press conference. “On this course, you can throw as far as you can but if you go OB, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “For me, if I can be safe then throw another safe shot, then I can get the same score as the people who throw far. Placement and playing smart on this course is very important, especially as they’ve added a lot of OB this year.”

Scoggins made something else work in her favor, too: from the middle of round one, the others were chasing her, encouraging the big throwers to take more risks to reel her in. In the first round, she made only three errors: leaving an approach short on hole 1, and then throwing OB and failing to get up and down on hole 16. Otherwise, she logged nine birdies en route to a three stroke lead over Kat Mertsch and Norway’s Lykke Lorentzen. She shot seven-under par in round 2 to stretch her lead to six throws over Hansen and repeated the dose in round three, with Hansen matching her score to keep the gap at six going into Sunday.

“I really like this number,” Scoggins said after the round. “This is probably the first time on this course that I’ve shot seven, seven, seven. Normally I’m a bit up and down, but I guess maybe it’s my lucky number. I’m going to stick on my game. No one can change my game. I know exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to stick on it. So far it’s worked well.”

On her chances of chasing Scoggins down in the final round, Hansen said, “If Ohn keeps doing what she’s doing…what am I? Six strokes back? It’s going to take 13 or 14 under. But there’s eagles out there in this course and I think it’s doable.”

That possibility grew in the back nine of the final round. On hole 13, when Scoggins had a 20-foot putt hit the chains high right and fall out, the lead was down to four. Then, on 15, Scoggins pulled her backhand approach right, where it clipped branches and fell short well outside the circle. When Hansen parked her upshot, Scoggins faced an uphill, 38-foot putt to avoid losing another stroke. Ohn’s putt just kissed the front chains as it lobbed into the basket, and she gave a fist pump as she ran to collect the disc, knowing she had a four stroke lead with three to play.

We can all look back in wonder at the child we once were and think about what kind of life that kid had in store. But then think of that kid growing up in a village in rural Laos and wonder if she had any idea that she’d one day be a champion in a sport she’d never heard of in a strange land far from home. There have been some emotional wins on the DGPT this year, as some first timers have transcended the marginal existence and grind of tour life to being a tour winner, only for the feelings of the big moment to be overwhelming. But Ohn Scoggins took in the win the same way she plays the game, with an infectious joy and a big smile.

“Finally, I got one!” she shouted to the same crowd she’d greeted and chatted with at every tee pad and who she’d brought with her around the course. “So many times, I’m close and finally I got one. Thank you, it means a lot to me.”

“I almost cried,” she confessed after the win. “It means a lot to me. I’ve worked so hard. I’ve never taken a day off. Finally, my game came together. I was hoping my disc would be in bounds on the last hole so I would have a seven under to go with the other rounds, but it is what it is. I’ll take the win and I’m super happy. My game just came together, and I made little mistakes. I mean it’s hard to perfect and you’ll make mistakes here and there but when it’s your week it’s your week.”

Simon Comes Through

Simon Lizotte celebrates after winning the 2023 Great Lakes Open. Photo: DGPT

The DGLO marked the beginning of the DGPT playoffs, with places in the final tournaments and DGPT Championship on offer. Critics have called this concept somewhat of a contrivance, but the performances of the top contenders and the jostling for positions at the top gave the event the distinct feel of a pro sports season coming to its pointy end.

Eagle McMahon shared the lead with Kevin Jones after round one at 8-under par, and these two were followed by no less than 10 players three strokes back at 5-under. McMahon and Jones stayed in step in round two, both shooting -6 to keep the lead over Chris Dickerson and Anthony Barela, the latter of whom had moved up to two strokes back. The big mover in round three was Simon Lizotte, whose 11-under 54 sprung him off the chase card and into a share of the lead with McMahon.

Lizotte’s hot round impressed almost everyone except the man himself. He was asked after the round how close to his top level of performance the provisionally 1075 PDGA-rated round felt. “Actually, surprisingly not close,” Lizotte said. “I made all my putts, but none of them went exactly where I wanted them to go, so nothing felt good, but it was all just good enough and sometimes in golf, good enough is exactly that, good enough. I feel like round one I was throwing the best, but my score doesn’t reflect that. Today, I got away with some.”

The Disc Golf Network has already caught on to the reality that being on the top card is far from a guaranteed win in the 2023 DGPT, so they spread their coverage wide in preparation to roll with whoever goes on a hot streak. This final round offered up one of the most enticing battles of the year: the Crush Boys, Lizotte and McMahon, head-to-head and no longer throwing the same discs, with a top seven that was only separated by five strokes and bristling with contenders who have taken down big tournaments.

Lizotte, after putting in an early bid for title of ‘people’s champion’ by handing out a stack of discs to the gallery surrounding tee one, started in similar fashion to round three: on a birdie streak. This time, it was only four holes, but it was enough to establish a two stroke buffer. Lizotte had calmly slotted a 50 foot putt into the hole one basket and held his finger aloft as he trotted to retrieve the disc before McMahon, putting from much closer, hit the hexagonal sponsor’s sign surrounding the pole and somehow rolled out of bounds.

The pair then put on a show as they matched each other with 6 birdies over the next 10 holes, followed by back-to-back one throw swings and two more birdies before arriving at hole 16 with the two-throw buffer from hole one still intact.

The fireworks weren’t confined to the top card, though, with Calvin Heimburg twice throwing in from beyond 275 feet to eagle holes 6 and 10 and push to within two throws of the lead before finishing with three bogeys in the last four holes and dropping to a share of 5th place.

Hole 16 gave the tournament both its crux moment and its major talking point. There had been grumbles about the island green all week, with some pros voicing disapproval about the fairness of its design. Teeing off first, McMahon’s drive seemed to hold its hyzer angle for too long instead of flipping straight, caught an early tree, and fell short of the island. Knowing that McMahon was two strokes back and facing a likely bogey, Lizotte tried yet another Simon line – just not the one you’d normally expect.

Giving the course designers at Toboggan 12 months to think about how to stop him doing this next year, and producing a chorus of “What! What! What! What! What! Why! Why! Why!” from Nate Doss and Nate Sexton on DGN, Lizotte threw high, straight, and deliberately long over the back of the island. Lizotte knew crossing over the green would leave him marked no further than 10 feet from the basket. The rest of the card missed the island, too, but they threw from a drop zone outside circle one and facing OB, with more penalties in store if they missed.

“I was in the fortunate situation where I got Eagle to throw first. Eagle was only two back and I just told myself that if Eagle goes OB, then the smartest play is just to try and throw as hard as I can at the basket and try to go OB long, because you get a drop basically from like 10 feet,” Lizotte said in his post round interview. “I never thought of that game plan before I stepped up to that hole but in the moment it all came together, and I think it was the right play.”

With a three throw lead and two holes to play, Lizotte played for par and cruised to his second Elite Series win of the year. The camera crew were ready for him this time, and we got a follow cam view of Lizotte’s run around the ring of the gallery high fiving anyone who would stick out a hand.

“This course is such a huge mental battle,” Lizotte said. “On top of that, it’s probably the most physical battle that we have all year. With the heat today, and the battle with Eagle over four days, I’m just so proud of how played today. It was amazing.”

  1. Kingsley Flett
    Kingsley Flett

    Kingsley Flett is a writer, photographer, and disc golfer who lives in Western Australia. You can find some more of his work on Instagram. He told us that he rides a Kangaroo to work every day, but we don’t believe him.

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