A battle in both divisions -- in very different circumstances.
September 2, 2023 by Kingsley Flett in Analysis, Recap with 0 comments
With her very first shot of the 2023 Pro Worlds on Brewster Ridge’s 320-foot par-3 hole 1 with its leafy tunnel and gently left-to-right curving fairway, Kristin Tattar’s disc seemed to perfectly bisect the fairway, before fading gently, 16-feet to the right of the basket and resulting in the first of nine birdies for the day. The opening hole set the tone for a round where her tee shots landed in the fairway 74% of the time.
Returning to Brewster for the start of round three, with an 8-shot lead over Missy Gannon, Tattar’s forehand tee shot on hole 1 was released slightly early, caught a tree on the right side of the tunnel, and landed in a spot from where she was able to get up and down for her par. Just as it did 48 hours previously, this hole seemed to reflect the rest of the round for Tattar.
The defending World Champ’s radar was just slightly off, but that is all that it takes on Brewster Ridge to start hitting trees and not gaps. Tattar only hit the fairway with 53% of her drives, and while she was able to scramble to save par all but one of the times her disc kicked into the rough, the misses opened the door for Missy Gannon to begin clawing back Tattar’s 8-stroke lead.
Gannon didn’t take the first opportunity on hole 1: throwing a difficult straddling birdie attempt from circle 2, low. On hole 4, Gannon left an open approach shot short and failed to cash in from circle two after Tattar was again forced to scramble for her par. Then, on hole 5, Tattar finally sent a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway to the base of the basket for a drop-in birdie. The lead stretched to 9-strokes and the invisible rubber band connecting the leader to the chaser was stretched to its breaking point. Tattar was close to delivering a knockout blow.
Just as in round 2, though, it was here that Missy started to fight. Gannon birdied the next two holes while Tattar missed the fairway again and then missed a circle 2 birdie putt. The lead was down to seven. Over the middle section of the course, Gannon faced several circle 2 putts: she hit a 40-footer on hole 9 to save par, missed birdie attempts on holes 10 and 12, and failed to save par on 11. The opportunities kept coming, though: Tattar’s last birdie for the round was on hole 5 as she either missed off the tee or left approaches outside the circle.
Gannon finished strong with three birdies in the last six holes to shoot her second 1000+ rated round for the tournament, just the second time in her career that she’s accomplished the feat1. Meanwhile, Tattar struggled to score and carded just her second bogey of the tournament on hole 14. The lead that had opened up to nine early in the round was down to four.
“We were getting the same birdies in the beginning and sort of trading them off, so I knew it was still close,” said Gannon after the round. “Then on the back nine, I picked up some crucial birdies. I did what I could after round three to have the lead only four strokes, and I think I’m in a great position. I’m going to keep pushing and keep having that same mindset that I did today.”
A Wild Leaderboard in MPO
Barring any meltdowns from the two leaders, the FPO has become a battle between the defending champion and her chaser, separated by four strokes. Inside the same gap in MPO sit 8 players, with another 10 players only two strokes further back. As it has been in the DGPT all year, the MPO is a pack of jostling contenders all trading hot streaks and the top of the board shuffling constantly.
Only Chris Dickerson (-25) stays on the lead card from round three, the Tennessean shooting a 10th-best 8-under par for the round but managing to stay on the final card on the strength of his 12-under the day before at Fox Run Meadows. Grady Shue (-18), leader after two rounds, only managed even par and fell to a share of 21st place. Ricky Wysocki (-20) shot 3-under par on the strength of only seven birdies, a bogey on hole 8, and a double bogey on hole 15. And Niklas Anttila (-21) didn’t fully recover from his rough start with a double bogey on hole 2 to also shoot 3-under and drop to a share of 9th place.
Joining Dickerson on the lead card for the return to Fox Run will be Cole Redalen (-26), whose 9-under-par round, highlighted by three Circle 2 birdie putts and an unbelievable 88 foot par save, shot him to the outright lead, one stroke ahead of Dickerson. Isaac Robinson (-24) and James Proctor (-24) matched the 9-under performance and will join those two in the top four while sharing 3rd place with Anthony Barela (-24), who will begin on the chase card.
Joining Barela on the chase card will be Finn Lauri Lehtinen (-23), whose blistering 13-under-par, 1089-rated 49 — a tie for the course record on a more difficult track — catapulted him 25 places up the board to be only three strokes off the lead. Rounding out the chase card will be Alden Harris (-22) and Gannon Buhr (-22), who are four strokes back.
With a field this crowded at the top with such quality, it’d be more apt to call them chase cards. There are only two rounds to go, so let’s lower the completely arbitrary eight stroke line that was applied after round two and call it six strokes. With 36 holes to play, there are 14 players still within reasonable striking distance, including heavy hitters like Calvin Heimburg (-21), Simon Lizotte (-21), and Paul McBeth (-20). Nobody at the top will be getting comfortable.
“It’s a moment I’ve been preparing for my whole life,” said Redalen after the round. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m just so thankful to be where I am, and my game feels really good. So if I can keep that rolling, then that’d be incredible, but I have no expectations moving forward.”
With two rounds to play, both divisions are far from decided, and the next two days will no doubt yield more drama, triumph, and tragedy as we make our way to crowning two more world champions.
the first was at Ledgestone 2023, which she won ↩