The Top 10 Storylines of the 2024 Jonesboro Open

From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

Anthony Barela at 2024 Jonesboro Open. Photo: DGPT

From the top of Party Hill, you can see blowouts and blowups, rollaways and skip shots. Come quickly—there’s no time to warm up. So, hop on the shuttle and catch a ride to the Disc Side of Heaven. In my opinion, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2024 Play It Again Sports Jonesboro Open presented by Westside Discs (PIASJOPBWD).

1. Anthony Barela adds a third win.

“Enough is as good as a feast.”

Anthony Barela has now won three out of the first five events of the year. That is the hottest start to a season since Paul McBeth in 2019. Not only has A.B. won three events, his non-wins were both 4th place finishes. He has, without a doubt, been the best player to start the season.

And, yet, A.B. wasn’t making it look easy mid-round on the final day. After taking a bogey on hole 12, he found himself three strokes back of Ben Callaway and two back of Calvin Heimburg and Ezra Aderhold.  He proceeded to shoot -6 over the next five holes, before securing the win on hole 18 with a layup. That’s what you do when you’re playing like the best disc golfer on the planet.

He said after the win, “It’s just crazy how it can unfold on these courses…Ever since, it’s just been a new me and I’m so excited for the future and this is just the beginning.”

2. Kristin Tattar is back to dominating.

“Lookin’ back is a bad habit.”

It is amusing to think that Kristin’s start to the season could be described as “rocky.” But that is how high the expectations are for her. We expect her to win every single week. When she is playing her game, she expects to win too.

This was one of those weeks where no one else really stood a chance. Kristin ended the first round with a 6-stroke lead, and it never got closer than that. For Kristin, it was redemption for a very small blemish on her near-perfect 2023. “Last year, I felt like I wasn’t playing up to my potential,” she remarked, “so, coming back here now and actually winning—it means a lot to me.”

Her event rating was 1016 and you know what that means…the quest for 1000-rated is back on, baby! More than that, it looks likely at this point.

3. Ben Callaway falls short.

“Why is it calm in the early morning?  You will notice that lakes are usually still and smooth before daybreak.”

Unlike FPO, MPO came down to the final hole of the final round. A handful of guys were in contention throughout the day, but three deserve special mention.  Looking at the lead and chase cards, Ben Callaway probably wasn’t your pick to come out on top. But he looked like he belonged—calm, cool, collected, and often setting the pace. Even with an unfortunate spit out and the decision to lay up an eagle opportunity late, he had the opportunity to win on hole 18. After a few seasons of all-over-the-place finishes with some lead card appearances sprinkled in, this would have been Callaway’s first Pro Tour win. In the end, he hung his tee shot way wide, landing in the O.B. water.

4. Calvin Heimburg falls short.

“Time just gets away from us.”

By the end of this month, it will have been a full calendar year since Calvin Heimburg has won an event. That’s hard to believe for a guy who seems to finish in the top 5 every single week. But what can we really expect from Calvin at this point in the year? His injury has him limited to throwing only backhands right now, and he still was one hole away from three-peating at Jonesboro. After a lackluster and a week off, Vinny has finished 3rd, 5th, and T-2nd. Put yourself in the mix enough and eventually that winless streak is going to end.

Not this week though. He had spent much of the day in the lead before a twig-hit scramble shot served up a double bogey. Still, Calvin went into hole 18 tied with A.B. He went a little too tight off the tee and his disc fell into the O.B. that separates the green from the layup area.

5. Ezra Aderhold falls short.

“I remember once I rode a mean goat through a plum thicket on a dare.”

No one (not named A.B.) has been better than Ezra Aderhold over the past two tournaments. He has managed to step-putt his way to two straight podiums. He may have even found himself in the driver’s seat, until he decided to throw a standstill sidearm over the water on hole 14. It made it about 5 feet over the water before skipping three times and sinking to the bottom of the middle of the pond. Seriously though…what was that? It is a shot that I know well. I get similar results all the time. But what was Ezra trying to do? Was he trying to Jon Rahm his way over there? He still had a chance to get to -24 by hitting a putt on 18 but was not able to convert.

6. Holyn Handley.

“We must each of us bear our own misfortunes.”

If you actually tuned in to the final round of FPO, why’d you do it?  To watch the greatness of Tattar?  The sadistic pleasure of a blowout win?  If it wasn’t either of those reasons, maybe you knew there was a chance—however small—that Holyn Handley could make a run at the lead. She shot a -10 hot round two the day before.  Going into the final round, Holyn was six strokes back from Tattar. Stranger things have happened, right?

Those hopes were quickly dashed when Holyn shot a +4 on the front nine, giving Tattar a 14-stroke lead. Kudos to the announcers, who did their best to capture audience interest after that. Holyn has all the gifts to be a real contender, but she seems to have these fall-apart rounds. I hope we see her get her first Elite win this year. And yes, I know…Throw Pink and all that.

7. Disc Side of Heaven Redesign.

“You are a pearl of great price to me, but there are times when you are an almighty trial to those who love you.”

When I heard there were going to be a lot of changes to Disc Side of Heaven, I was not excited. Thankfully, other than a few small changes, they basically just changed the flow (and therefore the hole numbers) of the course. With all the new courses and redesigns we have seen so far this season, the importance of returning courses has been underlined and highlighted in my mind. For me, it’s not just about the records and statistics either. Without returning courses, you don’t get any sort of nostalgia built up. Without familiar holes, there are no memories to refer to. There is a lot of value in being able to say, “This is where Calvin threw an absolute missile of a park job to beat McBeth in a playoff.” For those reasons alone, this was my favorite tournament to watch in 2024.  I’ll step off my soapbox now.

8. MPO Standings Check-in.

“If you want anything done right, you will have to see to it yourself every time.”

Let’s take our sometimes-weekly look at the Pro Tour standings. Here is what stands out to me in MPO:

  • We are now down to only two players that have not missed the top 10 this season. Those players are Barela and Gannon Buhr. Obviously, they sit at the top of the standings at #1 and #2, respectively.
  • Would you have believed me 3 years ago if I told you that five events into the season none of the wins would belong to Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, Calvin Heimburg, Simon Lizotte, Eagle McMahon, or Chris Dickerson?
  • Mason Ford continues to have a sneaky-good season, with another top 10. He currently sits in 7th overall.
  • Dickerson might be back. He just hasn’t been on coverage much.

9. FPO Standings Check-in

“Men will live like billy goats if they are let alone.”

Here’s what stands out to me when I look at the FPO standings:

  • Ohn’s 10th place finish keeps her as the only non-Tattar to have never finished outside the top 10 this year.
  • Three names that I have been glad to see in the mix: Rebecca Cox, Heidi Laine, and Lykke Lorentzen. They currently sit 9th, 10th, 11th in Pro Tour points—just outside of the cast of usual suspects.
  • General observation: points awarded for placement do not reflect how close the person was to actually winning. Take that for what it’s worth.
  • Eveliina Salonen continues to impress—2nd in Pro Tour points (finishing 1st, 4th, 8th, 2nd, 15th, 3rd).  Not impressive enough to win this week, but impressive, nonetheless.

10. Is it the baskets?

“You do not think much of me, do you, Cogburn?”
“I don’t think about you at all when your mouth is closed.”

Yes, there are ways of putting that will increase the likelihood of a made putt on certain baskets. But you don’t hear many people complaining about DGA or Innova baskets—just sayin’. In the words of Gannon Buhr on the Disc Golf Discussion Facebook page, “Yes, I putt hard, but they do suck.”

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