Lizotte, Tattar Go Back-to-Back at Music City Open

Simon and Kristin put together the first pair of title defenses since 2020

Simon Lizotte admires the Gibson Les Paul trophy he got for winning the 2024 Music City Open. Photo: DGPT

We look for patterns in life so we can reassure ourselves that our world is predictable. Those looking for soothing predictability in the 2024 Disc Golf Pro Tour, though, aren’t going to find it. The tour so far looks like it’s been scripted by Game of Thrones author George R. Martin – the guy who likes to keep the audience on edge by killing off favorite characters. At the Music City Open in Nashville this weekend, there was yet another plot twist that defied anyone trying to script how this year is going to play out.

Simon Lizotte and Kristin Tattar are both the first players to defend a 2023 title and the first co-title defenders since Paul McBeth and Paige Pierce did it at MVP Open in 2020. The MPO featured the type of unconsciously brilliant performance that only Simon Lizotte seems capable of but also included a welcome return to the podium of familiar faces in Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki. In FPO, Kristin Tattar had to chase down a fast-starting Holyn Handley twice, before pulling away in the final nine holes for her third DGPT win of the season.

Guitar hero

“I got to see that guitar on Thursday morning” said Simon Lizotte, talking about the coffee crème and mahogany colored Gibson Les Paul electric guitar awarded to both winners. “It was like – man, if I want to do it for anything, it’s for that guitar.”

Lizotte set the tone for his tournament by canning a 60-foot birdie putt on the first hole. Simon then followed this up with another long, arcing, downhill putt from outside circle-2 on hole 4 as he bolted out of the gate with a tournament-best 12-under par 55 that was provisionally 1076-rated. His sightly bewildered palms-out pose after the hole 4 throw-in showed that Simon was as surprised as anyone by this visitation from the good form fairy.

“It’s unexplainable to me at this point,” he said after the tournament. “This game, I’ve been doing it for so long. I don’t know what happens or how it happens or why it happens — it just happens. I’m there to watch at this point.”

Czech phenom Jakub Semerád carded a 10-under-par to claim second place ahead of a Californian by the name of Paul McBeth. In the Jomez Pro practice round before the tournament, McBeth had felt a visitation from the form of years past too. Walking up to one lie, he said, “It went that far? I didn’t even throw it that hard. I was trying to lay it up. That’s what I’ve been missing, man. Everything coming together for a shot. Just the timing and everything.” That timing seems to have returned to McBeth in time to remind the great unwashed that he is far from washed.

In round two, Lizotte again got the party started early with another 60-footer, this time on hole 2, but he and McBeth cooled off slightly, shooting 8-under and 9-under, respectively. It was Gannon Buhr’s turn to scorch the track with an 11-under par 56 that might have been enough to push him to a share of the lead but for a skied anhyzer that sailed long on hole 5 that led to a double bogey. The field made the turn for home with a championship Sunday lead card that everyone was looking forward to seeing: Lizotte at 20-under, Buhr and McBeth sharing second place at 18-under, and Chris Dickerson two strokes further back in fourth.

There ultimately wasn’t much drama. Three birdies in a row by Lizotte to start the final round opened up a four stroke lead over McBeth, six strokes over Buhr, and seven over Dickerson. By hole 9, he’d stretched the lead to seven. Ricky Wysocki had snuck into third off the chase card and, late in the round. there was some stirring of the great modern rivalry as McBeth and Wysocki were level before Ricky threw out of bounds on hole 18 (after his drive, coming back towards safe territory, hit the spotter and stayed OB) and fell to a share of third place with Dickerson.

When McBeth hit a 60-footer on hole 14, the smile that played on his face as he ran to retrieve the disc in front of the large raucous gallery seemed to say, “It’s good to be back where I belong.” Another veteran who fired up the gallery with an outside-C2 putt on hole 18 was Jeremy Koling as he charged into fifth place with a 9-under for the day.

But it was Lizotte’s day. He slowed his pace slightly in the back nine: he even carded his first bogey for the entire tournament on hole 16. But Simon kept a five stroke buffer over McBeth. Most of the last round was a lead solo for Lizotte.

“Unreal,” Lizotte said afterwards. “So unexpected after the slow start to the season for me. Going on that cruise control early in the round was so nice. I feel like everything went my way, the sloppy putts went in. The other guys got bad luck, I got good luck – that’s how it goes sometimes. Luck comes and goes, the putt comes and goes, champions come and go. I can’t explain how it happened. I just didn’t feel like I was physically ready for this track and even last week was challenging but then suddenly everything goes in. I don’t know how. It’s wild.”

Apart from being home for the birth of his second child, the next challenge for Lizotte is to match the intro riff from last year’s post tournament vlog with his new axe. It was his first DGPT win of 2024, but he now has the most wins on tour (7) in the last two years.

The fighter waits patiently for her moment to strike

The first key moment in the battle between Kristin Tattar and Holyn Handley came early on the back nine of the second round. Despite a freak lost disc incident on hole 14 in round one, Handley shot a seven-under-par 60 to take a three stroke lead over Finland’s Silva Saarinen and a four stroke lead over both Tattar and Hailey King into round two. Handley stretched her lead over Tattar to five by hole 4 in round two, but then got to feel what it’s like to be stalked by the two-time World Champion. Kristin slowly chipped the lead down to one stroke by hole 11 by birdieing four of the next six holes.

Handley looked nervous and started missing her lines off the tee. On hole 11, she early released, clipped an overhanging branch, and then overthrew her upshot by 50 feet. Tattar drove to within circle two but then seemed to lay up rather than run her 50-foot putt. Handley hit her 50-footer to save par, though, and kept Tattar one shot back. The long make seemed to settle Holyn’s nerves. Despite bogeying hole 13, she was able to stay in the contest and go into the last round level with Tattar at 10-under-par. The pair by then had cleared out to an eight stroke lead over Saarinen in third place. One of them was going to take it down.

Early on Sunday, Tattar fell victim to some malpractice from her scalpel of a forehand, early releasing off the tee on hole 1 and then throwing a simple upshot high on hole 3. The bogeys dropped her two strokes behind Handley. Kristin was going to have to chase Holyn down again.

The story of the next six holes told the outcome of the tournament: four missed circle one putts from Holyn. On hole 6, she missed for a birdie that would have restored her two stroke lead, on hole 7 she dropped a stroke, on hole 9 she dropped another stoke after a two stroke swing on hole 8 and then, on hole 10, missed another chance to claw a stroke back.

None of the putts were gimmes. Indeed, each had their own challenge: slightly obstructed, a steep downhill, and some swirling wind. But each was a putt that champions invariably make when the tournament is on the line. Tattar caught Handley by hole 7 and pulled away to a four stroke lead by hole 12. Despite a mini resurgence by Handley to get within two strokes with three holes to play, it was a tall order to chase down the champion. When Holyn threw her approach out of bounds on hole 16, it was over.

“I started out pretty bad,” said Tattar in her post round interview. “Then I told myself – ‘you’re a fighter. You just have to give yourself opportunities’  – and once I started to give myself those opportunities and make birdies, I felt like there was kind of a shift. I felt like the momentum was on my side at that point, so I tried to take advantage of it. It took a lot of patience to be kind on myself and wait for the birdies.”

Kristin doesn’t know how to play the guitar but promised DGN’s Zach Melton that she’d try to find the time to learn. She now has two Gibsons to practice on.

You can’t stop the music

The incident that halted play for 90 minutes, just as the FPO second card was about to tee off, was an intrusion from the dark side of humanity that rarely enters the beautiful sanctuary of our game. Violence was threatened against Natalie Ryan, a transgender female competitor in FPO, if she were to tee off for the second round of competition.

The DGPT suspended play while getting Nashville police involved to address the potential danger; after assessing the threat and implementing more security checks, play resumed.

The chatter on the internet afterwards revealed something quite profound. Of course, there are the hard stances on either side of the transgender issue that will never change. But on the social media threads, and in the chat rooms, there seemed to be a softening. Many people expressed thoughts along the lines of “I had this opinion on the matter, but nobody deserves to have their life threatened over it. The whole debate seems less important in light of what has happened, and my opinion isn’t as strong as it once was.”

So, if it was the intention of the perpetrator of the threats to drive in a deeper wedge, to trigger more anger and division, they failed. You can’t stop the music.

  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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