The Top 10 Storylines of the 2024 Open at Austin

From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

Niklas Anttila at the 2024 Open at Austin. Photo: DGPT

As the last drops of rain trickle off the brim of my finest Stetson, the clouds begin to scatter, and I squint into the darkness. There in the mist, I see them—two historic wins. In my opinion, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2024 Open at Austin.

1. A Finnish for the ages

“Well, it’s floodin’ down in Texas…”

Year after year, we wonder if it could finally be time for the European players (not named Simon) to start winning in MPO. Niklas Anttila has felt like the one most likely to do it, coming in second place three times since the beginning of the 2022 season. In Austin, Texas, Niklas did it. He became the first Finn to win an MPO Pro Tour event. It is well documented that Finland is crazy about disc golf. I wonder how many Finns struggled to get to work on Monday morning, having to stay up past 3 a.m. to see him cash the final putt.

The weight of the moment hit as the cowboy hat was placed on his head and the crowd began to chant his name. “When I came to the U.S. for the first time in 2022, I only had one goal in my mind, and it was to be the first Finnish disc golfer to win on the Disc Golf Pro Tour and I did it today,” he said. “Feels good.” Through tears, he added, “Because of disc golf I’m away from home, like, six months of the year, every year. And I sacrificed so much for the sport.” Looks like it paid off.

2. A finish for the ages

“…All of the telephone lines are down.”

The final round of this tournament was awesome. Not only did Anttila take down the historic win, but he also made it interesting! On hole 14, with two holes remaining (yes, you read that right), Niklas missed an easy putt for birdie. It looked like he might find himself in second place once again—or worse. A stunning barrage of shots was whipping past us on coverage, with three cards of players in the mix. On the third card, Kyle Klein went on an absolute heater of a -12 on a 15-hole layout. Calvin Heimburg and Anthony Barela were hot on his trail, chasing the entire round.

But it was Niklas who clutched up on the final two holes, going birdie-birdie. A huge putt on 17, a laser of a tee shot on 18, and an edge of circle putt for the win. Can’t ask for much more than that. When the putt hit the bottom of the basket, he let out a scream to match his clenched fists pumping in the air. +1 for live.

3. Ohn’s extraordinary tournament

“And I’ve been tryin’ to call my baby;
Lord, and I can’t get a single sound.”

Ohn Scoggins, baby! It feels wrong to have her this far down the list. 42 years old, recovering from an injury, slightly above average distance, throwing laterally moving flex shots on tightly wooded holes, and Kristin Tattar in the field—not exactly a perfect recipe for a win. But Ohn didn’t just win. She absolutely obliterated the rest of the field. Here are some highlights:

  • 1029—Ohn’s tentative average event rating. That’s the highest FPO event rating in history.
  • 1055—Ohn’s tentative round rating for Saturday. That is the fourth highest FPO rating in Elite and Major history.
  • 11—the number of strokes ahead of second-place Kristin Tattar.

I asked for someone to challenge Tattar. Scoggins answered. She could have shot an even par in the final round and still would have won. Got that dawg in her.

4. A (mostly) new course

“Well, dark clouds are rollin’…”

No matter how you feel about the Texas swing of the tour, it’s a no-brainer to hold a tournament in Austin. It’s one of the biggest disc golf scenes in the United States. This is going to become a Pro Tour owned event in the future—whatever that means—and it’s going to be here for the long haul. So, when they brought the Pro Tour to town last season, there were plenty of reasons to be excited. That excitement quickly faded away when we witnessed the most forgettable course on tour. In fact, if you had asked me to rank 2024 tour events by excitement level, the Open at Austin might have been dead last.

Thankfully they redesigned almost every single hole on the course. It was a huge improvement and incredibly fun to watch. You need to get your birdies early and then hold onto them through the middle stretch. It had just enough O.B. to feel dangerous, but someone could still shred for a -15. There was even room for spectators. Finding golf courses like this—that allow major renovation in the wooded areas of the property—could be a decent answer for the immediate future of tour courses.

5. Looking forward

“…Man, and I’m standin’ out in the rain.”

The young players are so good. Seriously, take a look at the MPO top 20. You’ll find names like Anttila, Klein, Barela, Buhr, Redalen, Hammes, Evan Smith, Ezra Robinson, Joey Buckets, and Semerád. They are all 25 years old or younger. Is Calvin Heimburg an old guy now? I would like to say we are getting a glimpse at the next 10 years, but the truth is there is probably another crop of 15- and 16-year olds waiting in the wings that will make me have this same conversation in two years.

6. Discmania’s future

“Yeah, flood water keep a-rollin;
Man, it’s about to drive poor me insane.”

Speaking of the youth movement, no one is sitting prettier than Discmania right now. Their top trio of Buhr, Anttila, and Klein is lightyears ahead of any other manufacturer’s top three. Obviously, a company’s number one goal is to make money. Losing Simon Lizotte and Eagle McMahon is a huge hit to Discmania sales. But if you believe in “teams” or follow made-up Manufacturers’ Cups (as is good and right so to do), the shield is doing better than ever.

Here’s a fun moment from internetland. On Saturday, a user in the “Discmania Collectors and Throwers Group” on Facebook wrote, “Niklas and Gannon > Eagle and Simon.” Kyle Klein chimed in in the comments, “Do I have to win to be part of this conversation? @Gannon Buhr, @Niklas Anttila, teach me how to be good plz.” Klein is right that he is the most disrespected player in disc golf. Plus, he almost pulled it off. What could’ve been.

7. Looking back

“Well, I’m leavin’ you, baby…”

Right now, it feels like 40 different players could win on any given weekend. Think of the era gone by—it was largely defined by two key rivalries: Paige/Cat and Paul/Ricky. They are still some of the biggest names in the sport. Let’s see how they did.

  • Paige Pierce won this event last year. Now recovering from an injury, she finished in 40th place and 46 strokes back from the leader. This could be a long road.
  • Catrina Allen has been in a monumental slump since winning the Preserve last season. Now expecting a child, Catrina had her best performance in ages, finishing in 7th place.
  • Like Pierce, Paul McBeth is also dealing with a nagging injury. He had an up and down tournament, shooting -1, -8, and -5, finishing in 22nd place.
  • Unlike the other three, Ricky Wysocki is still a legitimate threat to win every week. But Ricky took the weekend off. He needs to prepare for his guaranteed win at Texas States, where he has won, like, 11 in a row…or something.

8. Rain

“…Lord, and I’m goin’ back home to stay.”

The talk before the tournament was all about the impending weather. During the press conference, tour director Jeff Spring even talked about his desire to allow for Monday play when weather comes into play. Thankfully, the worst of it largely took place overnight. It left the course soggy and flooded, but playable. However, the inclement weather did lead to a couple of delays on the final day. The most interesting outcome was that MPO was forced to eliminate holes 12, 15, and 16 to ensure a completed round before sunset. The quicker round was nice. Is there a reason we need 18 holes?

9. Standings check-in

“Well, back home there’re no floods or tornadoes…”

Here is what stands out looking at the early season points standings: In MPO, 5 players have not missed the top 10 yet. Buhr (4th, 1st, T4th), Anttila (T9th, T2nd, 1st), Barela (1st, T4th, T4th), and Klein (5th, T7th, 2nd) hold the top four spots. Ricky Wysocki (2nd, T10th) sits in 8th.

In FPO, six players have accomplished the same feat: Scoggins (T7th, 2nd, 1st), Salonen (1st, T4th, 8th), Gannon (T3rd, 9th, 3rd), Tattar (1st, 2nd), Blomroos (5th, T6th, T4th), and Natalie Ryan (6th, 8th, T4th).

10. The first Major

“…Baby, and the sun shines every day.”

Next weekend is the first major of the year, The United States Women’s Disc Golf Championship, more commonly known by the shorter, easier name, USWDGC. Four rounds make a Tattar win even likelier than it normally is. Who is your pick for second?

Thanks for reading, everyone! See you in Houston!

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