2023 USDGC & Throw Pink Preview: Into the Arena

The final Major of the season for MPO and a prestigious A-Tier for FPO

USDGC Hole 6. Photo: DGPT

The 25th United States Disc Golf Championship, the final MPO major of the season, begins Thursday at the Winthrop Arena in Rock Hill, South Carolina. And for the third year, the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship, a prestigious A-tier, will be played alongside the USDGC.

Since the beginning of the DGPT season in February, players have been battling for position in the standings to earn a spot in next week’s Tour Championship. What is often overlooked is that all of those months of hard work culminate in this week as well. Most Elite Series events, and of course the majors, offer players a chance to qualify for the USDGC and TPWDGC.

At the 2022 USDGC, Finnish player Niklas Antilla took a one stroke lead into the final day and quickly found himself in a heated battle with Gannon Buhr. Antilla and Buhr were tied for the lead going into the dreaded island hole 17, though both players put their tee shots safely onto the island. Staring down a 60 footer, Buhr made his putt for birdie, while Antilla came up short and took a par. With a one stroke lead on hole 18, Buhr watched as Antilla parked his upshot for birdie. With the most important shot of his life, the 18-year-old put his approach just long of the basket and tapped in for his first career major championship.

In the TPWDGC, Catrina Allen took the lead in round two with a 1028 rated hot round and never looked back. Despite shooting even par over the final two rounds, Allen was able to hold off Kristin Tattar who went 10-under par during that same stretch. Tattar’s major downfall was the difficult hole 18, where she shot six-over par across the four rounds, Allen finished even on the hole and took home her 4th win of the season.

Past USDGC Winners

WinnerRunner Up
2022Gannon BuhrNiklas Anttila
2021Paul McBethKyle Klein
2020Chris DickersonCalvin Heimburg
2019James ConradJeremy Koling & Nikko Locastro
2018Paul McBethJames Conrad
2017Nate SextonRicky Wysocki
2016Jeremy KolingNikko Locastro
2015Paul McBethRicky Wysocki
2014Will SchusterickPaul McBeth & JohnE McCray
2013Steve BrinsterBarry Schultz & Steve Rico
2012Will SchusterickRicky Wysocki
2010Will SchusterickNikko Locastro
2009Nikko LocastroDave Feldberg
2008Nate DossAvery Jenkins
2007Ken ClimoAvery Jenkins
2006Barry SchultzBrian Schweberger
2005Dave FeldbergScott Martin
2004Ken ClimoDarrell Nodland
2003Barry SchultzKen Climo
2002Ken ClimoBarry Schultz
2001Barry SchultzKen Climo
2000Ken ClimoAl 'Sugar' Schack
1999Ken ClimoAl 'Sugar' Schack

Past TPWDGC Winners

2022Catrina AllenKristin Tattar
2021Missy GannonKona Panis
2020 (WNC)Paige PierceCatrina Allen

Five Things We’ll Be Watching

1. All eyes should be on World Champion Isaac Robinson this week, who has an opportunity to pick up his third Major win of the season. Robinson would be the first MPO player to win three Majors in a season since Paul McBeth swept the 2015 schedule. Isaac finished in 6th place last year, after struggling a bit with OB strokes in the first three rounds of the tournament. Robinson finished in 8th place the year prior, clawing his way back from an 11-stroke deficit after the opening round. If Isaac can get a decent start to his tournament, he’s very much capable of putting together a hot round and getting in position to win the event come Sunday.

2. Coming off a grand slam performance at the US Women’s Championships, Kristin Tattar will try to make her historic season even sweeter this weekend. Tattar has only played this event once, after Covid travel restrictions forced her to miss the inaugural event in 2021. Last year, Kristin took an uncharacteristic quadruple-bogey on hole 18 in the opening round and wound up nine strokes off the lead. Tattar managed to fight back but ultimately was unable to chase down Catrina Allen, finishing in 2nd place.

While Kristin’s European Championship was certainly a more important A-Tier win for her legacy, there’s no doubt that the TPWDGC field is stronger, and a desirable trophy to put on the mantle. Clearly the favorite to win both this week and next, the only question that remains is if Tattar has enough left in the tank to hold off the field and close out her historic season with two more wins.

3. With each major championship, the pressure on Calvin Heimburg to finally win one continues to build. Heimburg nearly won this event in extremely rainy conditions back in 2020, until his putt on hole 17 hit the basket and rolled out of bounds. Last year, he finished in 3rd place after carding a seven on hole 10 in the final round. A birdie three would have forced a playoff, and an eagle two would have won the event outright over Gannon Buhr. As the front-runner for Player of the Year, Calvin may finally hoist the trophy at a Major. But Isaac Robinson could steal that title with a win this weekend. And reigning champion Gannon Buhr will also have something to say if he is able to repeat at Winthrop. While Buhr’s average finish is nowhere near as impressive as Heimburg’s, he currently has one more Elite and one more Silver win on the season.

4. Ohn Scoggins has a great opportunity to pick up a win this weekend if she can avoid the big mistakes the Winthrop Arena baits players into. In 2021, Ohn took a 10 on hole 5 in the opening round and still finished just four strokes off the lead. Last year, she carded a nine on three different holes, including one on hole 5. Scoggins has played phenomenal lately; aside from her DNF at the World Championships, she hasn’t missed a podium since the Beaver State Fling. If Ohn can just limit her OB throws at Winthrop, she will have an opportunity to take down this event.

5. 5-time USDGC champion and 12-time World champion Ken Climo will return to the Winthrop Arena this weekend. “The Champ” has been notably absent from the pro scene over the past several years, but fans will have an opportunity to see him throughout the event. Not only will Climo be doing commentary for the live coverage on the Disc Golf Network, he will also take part in a special 9-hole skins match after round 2 along with fellow champions Barry Schultz, Will Schusterick, and Nate Sexton. Climo has a bit of prior experience doing commentary but has not played a filmed round since the 2016 USDGC. Newer fans of disc golf have been clamoring to see the legend compete one more time, and it appears that opportunity has finally arrived.

Course Changes

The Winthrop Arena is one of the most iconic venues in the sport, having hosted the USDGC since 1999. This year there is only one notable change to the course. Hole 17 typically has a slightly easier B pin position used for rounds 2 and 3. To go along with hole 17, hole 13 will also have a shorter position for the middle two rounds this year.

2023 MPO A: 9,812 Feet Par 64
2023 MPO B: 9,712 Feet Par 64
2022 MPO: 9,812 feet Par 64

2023 FPO A: 8,787 feet Par 69
2023 FPO B: 8,687 feet Par 69
2022 FPO: 8,787 feet Par 69

Extended Forecast

The conditions could not be better for the 2023 USDGC/TPWDGC. Temperatures should be mild to warm with little to no wind throughout the weekend.

– Thursday: Partly cloudy with highs near 80. Winds light and variable.
– Friday: Mostly cloudy with highs near 80. Winds light and variable.
– Saturday: Partly cloudy with highs in the lower 70s. Winds 5 to 10 mph.
= Sunday: Sunny with highs in the upper 60s. Winds 5 to 10 mph.

  1. Justin Westfall
    Justin Westfall

    Justin Westfall is a contributor at Ultiworld Disc Golf who enjoys living in Southern California, where he can play disc golf year-round. Off the course, he works in the film industry and prides himself on being a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan. You can find Justin on Twitter and Instagram @PDGAStats.

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