The Top 10 Questions Ahead of the 2023 World Championships

From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

Paul McBeth at the 2022 World Championships. Photo: DGPT

Worlds week is finally here! Even better—this year it is actually on courses that people enjoy. As the anticipation builds, questions arise. These are the top 10 questions I have heading into the 2023 PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships.

1. Who will challenge Kristin Tattar?

Kristin has been close to unstoppable this season. She has two major championships under her belt already, and you’d have good reason to assume she’ll finish the season with four Majors, Throw Pink, and the DGPT Finale to her name. However, Kristin is coming off one of the worst rounds of her career at the European Disc Golf Championship. Was it just a bad round or a glimmer of hope for the rest of the field? Probably just a bad round.

But…if you must pick someone to give her a run for her money, who is it going to be? Paige is out with injury. Catrina Allen has been atrocious over the past few events. European hopefuls Eveliina and Henna have not proven that they can putt. Rising stars Ella Hansen and Holyn Handley have not shown the ability to actually win. So, that leaves two players in my opinion: Ohn Scoggins and Missy Gannon. Please, somebody keep it close! I can’t take five rounds of blowout.

2. Is this the end of Paul McBeth’s Worlds dominance?

McBeth’s finishes at Worlds over the past decade have been nothing short of incredible. Since 2012, Paul McBeth has finished 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st. However, it seems like the end of McBeth’s total dominance is going to come to an end this year. Paul has had a bad year (by Paul McBeth standards), and he is coming off an injury that has sidelined him for weeks. This level of Worlds excellence isn’t sustainable. The rest of the field has caught up with and even surpassed Paul. But that’s what we said last year…and the year before that. Paul announced his comeback on Instagram last week, saying, “I WILL be ready to compete in just over a week from today with the attempt to defend and secure my 7th World title!”

3. Can Calvin Heimburg go from consistent to champion?

Calvin Heimburg has been the best disc golfer on the planet this season. He has been so consistent that he hasn’t finished outside of the top 5 since June 4th. But that consistency hasn’t translated into wins. In fact, for all his consistency, Calvin hasn’t won a tournament since April. Similarly, Calvin has found himself all over lead cards at majors the past few years, but he has crumbled in final rounds. But I think this is Calvin’s year. Five round tournaments allow the cream to rise to the top. And nobody’s been creamier than Calvin this year.

4. Is it finally time for Ricky Wysocki to win another major?

Ricky hasn’t won a major in six years. How is that even possible? Yes, Ricky likes to make sure everyone knows that majors are not the most important thing to him. He values year-long consistency. He values total number of wins. He values season championships. Blah, blah, blah. Ricky is lying. Ricky will always be mentioned alongside Paul McBeth. After all, they defined an era together. But no one cares who won the 2018 Jonesboro Open. Ricky needs another major. And no matter what he says, he wants it…badly. Ricky has been coming into form, finishing in the top 10 in six straight events. He also historically performs well at GMC. This could be Ricky’s time to return to the top.

5. Who is getting hot at the right time?

Do you believe in momentum? If you do, you have to think about the players who have been putting things together over the past three Elite series events. Recent winners include Cole Redalen, Gannon Buhr, Simon Lizotte, Missy Gannon, Valerie Mandujano, and Ohn Scoggins. They’re not the only ones finding their groove, however. Expect names like Eagle McMahon, Kevin Jones, Ella Hansen, and Maria Oliva to be fighting for lead cards.

6. Will we have a first-time World Champion?

Chances are good…very good. Sure, Kristin will probably cruise to her second title. But MPO is wide open. Really, there aren’t many truly active World Champions out there competing. Not many people are going to pick Barsby or Conrad to pick up #2. If McBeth or Wysocki can’t get it done, we are going to be crowning a new World Champion this weekend. The better question might be will the new world champion be a young superstar like Buhr or Robinson? Will it be a total longshot ala Parker Welck? Or will it be a world champion we have been waiting for like Eagle, Calvin, or Dickerson? It should be noted—Smuggler’s Notch has a history of unlikely Worlds winners.

7. Who needs the points?

Remember: majors are worth 1.5X tour points. Hidden behind the battle for the title is the battle for positioning. After this, the only points available are MVP Open and Discmania Open (a Silver). Keep an eye on these players to try to hold onto their Finale spots: Ali Smith, Stacie Rawnsley, Emily Beach, Chris Clemons, and Väinö Mäkelä. And look for these outsiders to fight their way in: Sai Ananda, Holly Finley, Juliana Korver, Andrew Presnell, Robert Burridge, Garrett Gurthie, Paul Ulibarri, Eric Oakley, Chandler Kramer, and Brodie Smith. 150 points goes a long way.

8. Is it possible to get any worse than last year’s Worlds trophy?

Last year’s trophies were a travesty. Seems like a good time for me to update my trophy rankings.

1. Music City Open—Gibson electric guitar
2. PCS Open—Viking axe and shield
3. DGLO—clear milk pitcher with Ohn drinking alcohol out of it
4. Preserve Championship—bear statue
5. LWS Open—Propellor
6. Cascade Challenge—ax with straps
7. OTB Open—swirly fox
8. The Open at Austin—Stetson cowboy hat
9. Mid America Open—oar
10. Beaver State Fling—disc golf Sasquatch
11. WACO—that bridge thing
12. Alutaguse Open—cup on angel on bear on eagle
13. Champions Cup—cup with chains
14. Innova Open at Texas States—belt buckle
15. American Flying Disc Open—steering wheel
16. European Open—big cup
17. Zoo Town Open—wooden fish
18. Las Vegas Challenge—blackened milk jug
19. Åland Open—circle with bird
20. Ledgestone Open—flower vase
21. DGLO—clear milk pitcher without Ohn drinking alcohol out of it
22. Dynamic Discs Open—glass ball
23. Portland Open—bridge on square
24. Blue Ridge Championship—three-legged teardrop
25. KC Wide Open—small letters with small spade
26.LWS Open—medium glass droplet that was not a propellor
27. New World Championships—small glass droplet
28. Lake Marshall Open—glass shape
29. Des Moines Challenge—glass cup
30. Jonesboro Open—really big little league/middle school track meet trophy

9. What will the weird headline of the week be?

What is it about Worlds week? Last year, Paige Pierce was getting kicked out of the Emporia Country Club. The year before that people were adding O.B. under the cover of darkness, and some PDGA guy wearing sunglasses indoors called it a “jerk move” when Brodie rented out the driving range. Who knows what 2023 will bring?

10. Who ya got?

The time has come to put your money where your mouth is. Here are my podiums.

1. Kristin Tattar
2. Ohn Scoggins
3. Ella Hansen

1. Calvin Heimburg
2. Paul McBeth
3. Ricky Wysocki

Thanks for reading, everyone! Let me know the big questions you have. Have a great Worlds week!

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