Missy Gannon Wins Her First PDGA Major Title at 2024 USWDGC

A duel with Eveliina Salonen went Gannon's way in the final round when Salonen's putter went cold

Missy Gannon at the 2024 US Women’s Disc Golf Championship. Photo: DGPT

Missy Gannon led coast-to-coast to notch the first official PDGA major win of her eight-year pro career1 in the first major of 2024, the United Stated Women’s Disc Golf Championships, held in an unfamiliar early season time slot on the newly built Sprinkle Valley course near Austin, Texas, this weekend. The win ended the run of five straight major titles from Kristin Tattar that began at the 2022 PDGA World Championships. Gannon’s five-stroke winning margin over Eveliina Salonen belies the toughness of the battle between the two, however, as the duo were never separated by more than a few strokes throughout the contest.

Missy Takes Her Turn

Sports fans and sports writers will never learn. Each year, we see early season form as the predictor of the rest of the year’s results; each year, we are wrong. After Kristin Tattar’s comfortable win in her return to the DGPT at Waco, we foreshadowed a long year of chasing Kristin for the rest of the FPO field. Then after Ohn Scoggins similarly comfortable win last week at The Open in Austin, we all thought it was going to be Ohn and Kristin’s year, somehow forgetting Eveliina’s win in the season opener in Florida. Then, over all that noise, we heard a loud ‘ahem!’ from Missy Gannon, reminding us of her second place at the 2023 World Championships, along with wins at Ledgestone and the Pro Tour Championships last year, and that we’d better start including her in this year’s conversation.

We’ve now had four FPO Elite Series and Majors in 2024; no player has more than one win.

The reminder for us all to remember Missy was made loud and clear in the first round as Gannon carded seven birdies in the first 9 holes before cooling off in the back nine to finish with a course record 7-under-par and with a one stroke lead over Rebecca Cox and Valerie Mandujano. Cox and Mandujano then fell away in the second round as winds ripped through the course.

“Trying to read the wind in the woods was the hardest part,” said Missy Gannon of round two. “The wind was affecting the wooded fairways more than I knew.”

Eveliina Salonen climbed up two places on the strength of the day’s second best round of 2-under-par to sit three strokes behind Gannon.

Calm conditions in round three led to a return to lower scores as Salonen shot 7-under-par for the round to equal Missy’s round one course record. Gannon and another Finnish player, Heidi Laine, both shot 6-under-par. Most other contenders took themselves out of the conversation in round three, Ella Hansen with a pair of double bogeys late in the round and Ohn Scoggins with a less disastrous but equally telling pair of bogeys on holes 15 and 17.

Going into championship Sunday, Gannon had a 2 stroke advantage over Salonen. The pair had pulled away from the rest of the pack. There was a six stroke gap between Salonen and Holyn Handley in third.

Eveliina’s putting lets her down the moment she needed it

Eveliina Salonen has been one of the best tee-to-green FPO players in recent seasons. The 24-year-old from Finland finished USWDGC with a second-best fairway hit percentage of 78% (tied with Gannon) and lead the field in reaching circle 1 (40%) and circle 2 (60%) in regulation. After her win at the Chess.com Invitational in February, there was talk that her putting woes — a major storyline in 2022 and 2023 — were finally behind her. In that victory, she hit 67% of her Circle 1X putts. In the first three rounds of the USWDGC, she averaged 85% from C1X. In the last round, however, when she found herself with multiple opportunities to close the gap and take the lead from Gannon, Salonen lost her rhythm from outside of 20′ and slumped below 60% in C1X, hitting only 10 of her 17 eligible putts, with six of those being come backers.

The two stroke gap between Gannon and Salonen stretched to four after hole one, when Eveliina seemed to get greedy with her second throw, electing to bomb high over the trees in an attempt to reach the green from out of position. When the card eventually found her disc, she was forced to pitch out into an adjacent fairway before scrambling for a double bogey.

The stretch of holes 7, 8, and 9 was where Missy left the door ajar for Eveliina. “I was trying to stay in the moment. But it was getting tough to do,” said Gannon after the round.

Salonen’s first chance to take a big bite out of the gap came on hole 7 when Gannon missed the fairway and had to scramble to save bogey. Salonen missed the circle 2 birdie bid and the chance for a two-throw swing. Then, on hole 8, Gannon left her upshot short and missed her Circle 2 par save, leaving the door open for Salonen to grab more strokes, only for Eveliina to miss both the birdie putt and the comebacker.

Eveliina’s normally sunny disposition deserted her along with her putting. Her frustration showed at being this close to another major win yet seeing it slip through her fingers. Salonen also missed another circle 1 putt, and a chance to claw back a stroke on hole 9. Gannon missed the fairway three times in a row on holes that usually punish players for straying into the rough and lost just one stroke to her chaser.

Missy doesn’t let it slip

A Salonen birdie on hole 10 closed the gap to back down to two strokes, and that’s where it remained until hole 15, when a missed drive and failed scramble by Salonen led to a two-stroke swing. Missy Gannon has won every Elite Series or Major event where she was leading going into moving day or the final round — she wasn’t going to let a four-stroke lead slip with three holes to play. Salonen drifted away after that and dropped low enough to be almost caught by the fast-finishing Mandujano and Scoggins, who were entertaining the crowd with their battle for the last podium spot.

“I’ve worked so hard,” said an emotional Gannon after the win. “It was one of the last things I wanted to do and I hope it’s not the last time, but I’m just so happy to finally get that major win.”

The Estonian player who spent most of the tournament battling for a place on the chase card was getting a disproportionate amount of attention. But when that player is chasing her sixth major in a row, the attention is justified. Everyone was keeping one eye on Kristin Tattar to see if she’d string together some birdies and come into contention, but she seemed to card a bogey or double bogey every time she looked like making a run. A nagging back injury and some other health problems have taken the edge off of Tattar after her sparkling start to the tour this year.

All of a sudden, the field in FPO seems wide open. The conclusion to the Texas Swing next week in Houston takes on added significance as we wait to see if a dominant FPO player will emerge this year, just mere days after we thought we knew who that was going to be.

  1. In 2021, she won the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship, the unofficial fifth FPO major 

  1. Kingsley Flett
    Kingsley Flett

    Kingsley Flett is a writer, photographer, and disc golfer who lives in Western Australia. You can find some more of his work on Instagram. He told us that he rides a Kangaroo to work every day, but we don’t believe him.


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