The Top 10 Storylines of the 2024 Waco Annual Charity Open

From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

Gannon Buhr at the 2024 Waco Annual Charity Open. Photo: DGPT

WACO wasn’t exactly wacky—with the two winningest players of 2023 walking away with the hardware—but the first DGPT+ event of the year delivered plenty of excitement. So, join me on the banks of the Brazos. In my opinion, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2024 Waco Annual Charity Open.

1. Gannon Buhr wins MPO battle

“Circus is coming through; Everybody knows that when you purchase a ticket, you expect to get a show.”

The final round of MPO was incredible. The young superstar, Gannon Buhr, and Luke “this many skins” Humphries started the day tied for the lead, but more than a dozen players felt like they were within striking distance at one point or another. After a few holes, it felt like Gannon was beginning to pull away. But a dead-center spit out, a time violation warning, and Niklas Anttila rattling off six straight back-nine birdies—all of a sudden, we’ve got ourselves a match! Anttila eventually faltered on the 17th hole as he laid up for bogey after going O.B. At the same time, Luke Humphries charged back into the lead hitting a huge birdie putts on 16 and 17.

Humphries began the final hole with a one-stroke lead. A par guaranteed him a playoff. A birdie guaranteed him his first Pro Tour win. But the crowd fell silent as his second shot found an O.B. golf green. He ended with a bogey, tied for second with Anttila. Buhr was able to hit a 25-foot putt for a birdie and the win. Changing bags doesn’t seem like it’s going to be much of an issue for Discmania’s newest signing.

After the win, Buhr mused, “In the moment, you wanna have the win be easy. But, at the end of the day, when you go back and watch the video, it’s always sicker if it’s done in a cool fashion like that.” We, the fans, thank you for your contribution.

2. Kristin Tattar is back

“You saw my photograph as you was walkin’ in; An invitation to the world I’m living in.”

Kristin Tattar returned to Pro Tour action this past weekend. And to be honest, she didn’t look that great…for Kristin. Here’s the thing, though—it’s not just about high her ceiling usually is. It’s about how high her floor is. A less-than-stellar Tattar is still plenty good to be in the mix. Over four rounds a less-than-stellar Tattar is probably going to win. She is just so consistent in comparison to the rest of the FPO division. Over the course of four rounds, she only carded four bogeys and one double.

At this point, I see no reason to believe this year will be any different than last year. She is on another level. It’s up to the rest of the field to rise to the occasion.

3. Luke Humphries

“The mirage of Del Rio; It was burnin’ in his eyes.”

“Gannon Buhr, huh? Tie ballgame, boy. I’ll see you tomorrow,” smirked Humphries at the end of the third round, gleefully rubbing his hands together. You’ve got to love the swagger of an early season Luke Humphries. What is it about this guy at the beginning of the year? Luke finished the 2022 season in 41st place, after going T-4th and 2nd in the first two events of the year. He finished the 2023 season in 62nd place, after going T-27, T-20th, and T-18th in the first three events of the year. So far in 2024, Luke has gone T-14th and T-2nd through two events. Is this another early season flash-in-the pan? Or is he going to get that first tour win? The beginning of the season isn’t over yet!

4. Familiar faces

“Tired of thinking ‘bout the future; Always gotta stay one step ahead.”

WACO gets the reputation for being wacky, but the winners usually aren’t. However, its traditionally short length does allow for a different group of players popping up on the leaderboard. It was an absolute treat to not have the leaderboard filled with new faces, but some old, familiar ones instead. Nate Sexton (T-10th), Gregg Barsby (T-7th), James Conrad (T-15th), Paul Ulibarri (T-18th), Jeremy Koling (T-21st), and Cale Leiviska (T-23rd) all spent considerable time on our screens this weekend.

Before the tournament, Big Jerm talked about gracefully making the transition into media and maybe even some Masters golf over the next couple years. How great it was to see all three Jomez boys sitting in the top 10 going into the final round!

5. Lake Waco

“I’m coming in from the east, ain’t gonna miss it in the least; Pardon me for saying so.”

WACO added a new second course this year. The new “Lake Waco” offered a more open-style, converted golf course to compliment the beloved bEast. The excitement of the final round will help us to remember the new course fondly. But let’s be honest, this course was blah, completely forgettable, nondescript. It was fine and had the players throw some interesting shots, but there was nothing memorable or unique. If they changed every hole for next season, I don’t think anyone would blink an eye.

More importantly, you need to have the tournament finish at the bEast. 17 and 18 are two of the best finishing holes in the world. Look at some of the scores players carded this week! I know, I know—spectators. But we must find a way to accommodate spectators without ending up with 25 Jones Parks on tour. So, what’s the answer? Don’t look at me…

6. Missing the cut

“In this river city nothin’ ever lasts.”

I love a good cut. If nothing else, it’s just one more storyline for fans to watch. Plus, why keep the guy in 93rd place around for a final day? A lot of surprising people missed the cut in Waco. In FPO, World Champions Catrina Allen, Sarah Hokom, and Paige Shue all fell short. So did Jennifer Allen. It was even more surprising in MPO. These top players didn’t get to play on day four: Isaac Robinson, Ben Callaway, Chris Clemons, Kevin Jones, Paul McBeth, Simon Lizotte, Drew Gibson, Nikko Locastro, and plenty of other names you know and love. Maybe WACO is wacky?

7. Ricky penalized

“Hello, son; We’re sure glad you’re here.”

For the second time in as many weeks, a prominent player was issued a two-stroke penalty for arriving late to their starting time. A new Pro Tour rule mandates that a player must arrive, check in, and be present at the first tee five minutes prior to their tee time. Last week, it was Kevin Jones. This week, it was Ricky Wysocki. I’ve seen a lot of moaning and groaning about this online from both fans and players. And I’ll agree that two strokes is a stiff penalty. But c’mon, if you know the rule is to be there five minutes prior, then just be there. Grandma Jackson always told me, “If you’re not early, you’re late.”

Watch for Ricky to trot up to the first tee with plenty of time to spare in the future. In the words of that one random Lone Star Disc commercial, “Run, Ricky, run. Run, Ricky, run.”

8. Ella falls back

“Then I’d finally take my rest and get this weight up off my chest.”

After Anthony Barela’s win in Florida, is Ella Hansen the best touring player that has yet to win? Ella has been close a number of times, most memorably last year’s WACO where she gave the tournament to Kristin down the stretch of the final round. This year, Ella held a six-stroke lead over Kristin after two rounds. By the end of round three, she faced a five-stroke deficit. She ended the tournament 12-strokes back in T-6th. Ella has the talent to win, but she will need to stay hot on a weekend when Kristin isn’t.

9. FPO field

“I’m going up into the canyon; I’m taking with me reckless abandon.”

Obviously, Kristin isn’t going to win every time she plays. But this weekend has me worried about FPO entertainment value this season. There is that second level of players that can challenge for a win on any given week—Hansen, Blomroos, Gannon, Scoggins, Salonen, King, Handley–but the drop-off from there is steep. And, frankly, it’s harder to care about the battle for second place, no matter how close it is.

I’m fine with watching Kristin win every week, but there needs to be at least one FPO player each week who challenges her for the victory. Maybe the committee can set up a schedule or something.

10. Plus Points

“Come on in, things are not as they appear; Sit right down while we show you how it’s done. We’re gonna make you number one.”

Since this is the first DGPT+ event of the year, 125% Pro Tour points were at stake. (Seriously, though—they change the tournament designation names and points structure of the tour every single year. Hopefully they will find something they can stick with soon.) Anyways, here is where things stand after the first two events of the year.

In MPO, the four players who placed in the top 10 in both events take the top four spots:

1. Gannon Buhr—194 tour points
2. Anthony Barela—183.3 tour points
3. Niklas Anttila—150 tour points
4. Ricky Wysocki—142.5 tour points

In FPO, the top five spots go to the players that have finished in the top 7 in both events:

1. Eveliina Salonen—183.13 tour points
2. Holyn Handley—165.75 tour points
3. Ohn Scoggins—161.75 tour points
4. Ella Hansen—158.13 tour points
5. Henna Blomroos—137.13 tour points

Thanks for reading, everyone. See you in Austin!

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