The Top 10 Storylines of the 2024 PDGA Champions Cup

From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

Andrew Presnell holds the trophy for the 2024 PDGA Champions Cup. Photo: DGPT

On a weekend where it was more about surviving the course than conquering it, two Major champions emerged from the trees victorious. In my opinion, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2024 PDGA Champions Cup.

1. Andrew Presnell wins

“There is unrest in the forest, trouble with the trees.”

Raise your hand if you had Presnell on your podium picks? Didn’t think so. Andrew Presnell become one of the unlikeliest Major winners of all time. He has zero elite wins. He had never even come in the top 10 at a Major before.

He has the reputation of being a grinder on tour, driving to the next spot week in and week out. That’s sort of how he won this weekend—he just chipped away at it little by little. He never took worse than a bogey, and as he noted on the Staggered Stance podcast, “didn’t try to make any hero shots.” He just kept it on the fairway and played golf.

Presnell isn’t one to show over the top emotion, but you could tell it meant a lot to him. What does a Major win mean to a generally middle-of-the-pack player? Only time will tell the long-term effects. But there are already some immediate results. $15,000 for one. On top of that, Discraft’s Bob Julio was there to welcome him back to their Elite team after the big win. Prez for prez!

2. Eveliina Salonen wins

“For the maples want more sunlight and the oaks ignore their pleas.”

Eveliina won her second tournament of the year and the second Major of her career. She is not a great putter now but gone are the days when she would 5-putt from 20 feet. It turns out that is really all she needed. She has always been at the top of tee-to-green statistics and clearly has one of the best throws in the division.

She said after the tournament, “I am proving to myself that I can do it. That’s maybe the biggest thing.” Right now, Salonen sits atop the Pro Tour standings. She just might be the consistent weekly threat to Tattar we’ve been wanting to emerge from the FPO’s top players.

3. MPO Contenders

“The trouble with the maples (and they’re quite convinced they’re right)—they say the oaks are just too lofty and they grab up all the light.”

There were a lot of different names floating around the top of the leaderboard across the four days. Here are some interesting things to note about those who fell short.

  • Casey White reached the final winning score during round 3. He ended up falling all the way back to 14th place.
  • Niklas Anttila finished in 2nd place with a -11. This is now his third second place finish at a Major.
  • Ricky Wysocki and Calvin Heimburg seemed poised to run down the lead card on the final day. In the end, their Major droughts continued. Ricky has not won a Major in seven years. Calvin has never won one.
  • Ezra Robinson (T3rd) gave us the hope of back-to-back brother wins at Champions Cup. So far, this year, he has been the superior Robinson.

4. European women

“But the oaks can’t help their feelings if they like the way they’re made.”

Take a look at the top 6 FPO finishers from Champions Cup. Salonen, Henna Blomroos, and Silva Saarinen are all from Finland. Kristin Tattar, of course, is from Estonia. And a name many stateside might not be familiar with, Rachel Turton, is from Great Britain. In fact, the only U.S. player in the top 6 is Ohn Scoggins, and she was born in Laos.

I remember after COVID, everyone was talking about the FPO Europeans who were coming back to the tour. Well, here they are. Disc Golf feels global right now…at least in FPO.

5. Kristin Tattar 0-2 at 2024 Majors

“And they wonder why the maples can’t be happy in their shade.”

After her 2023 Major sweep, Kristin Tattar is now 0-2 at the Majors this year. She is still the best player in the world. She is still the safe winner pick each week. There were about a hundred times during Champions Cup where I thought, “OK, here comes Kristin.” But she never did. I am still going to pick Kristin to win at the next tournament. And at the next Major. But let this underscore just how incredible Kristin’s season was last year.

6. 4 rounds at Northwood

“There is trouble in the forest and the creatures all have fled.”

I love wooded disc golf, but this was hard to watch at times. W.R. Jackson, in comparison, seems absolutely breezy. Northwood “Black” is a brutal course where you are just trying to escape with the least amount of damage done. That’s great, but I think it works better as a complimentary course—like it has been during previous Ledgestones. Four days in a row (especially when one of those days is 14 hours long) at “the hardest course in the world” can feel a little bit like being smashed over the head. But ask me how I feel after watching four straight rounds at Lake Eureka later this year. I’ll be dying to watch players take a quintuple bogey at Northwood.

7. The return of Eagle McMahon

“As the maples scream, ‘Oppression’ and the oaks just shake their heads.”

Perhaps the biggest storyline going into the week was the return of Eagle McMahon—returning after surgery, with a brand-new disc sponsor and feature card attention. It wasn’t pretty. Something was off with Eagle’s timing…or maybe he didn’t know his discs at lower elevation…or…who knows? Eagle finished with an abysmal +26, tied for 90th place, beating only 4 players, and nowhere near making the cut. Tough course to stage your rebirth.

8. Cutline Casualties

“So the maples formed a union and demanded equal rights.”

Eagle wasn’t the only well-known player to miss the cut. In MPO, these players all fell short: Drew Gibson (T54), Chris Clemons (T58), Kevin Jones (T60), Nikko Locastro (T62), Ben Callaway (T62), Albert Tamm (T77), and many more of your favorites. In a sick twist of fate, Silver Lätt, Silas Schultz, Brodie Smith, and Alden Harris all made the cut, but still ended up missing cash.

In FPO, two names stand out above the rest: Paige Pierce (T30) and Hailey King (T32). Even after the injury I figured Paige would have the skill to finish in the top 10 every week. And Hailey King…where do I start? Each week I think to myself, “How is Hailey King not the best player in FPO?” And he we are…again.

9. Checking in on the standings

“They say, ‘The oaks are just too greedy. We will make them give us light.’”

A Major means that double Pro Tour points are being awarded. Here’s what stands out to me at this point in the season.

  • Presnell’s 200-point victory more than doubled his season total and catapulted him into the top 10.
  • Somehow Anthony Barela and Gannon Buhr managed to eke out T10 finishes, keeping their season long top 10 streaks intact.
  • The next most consistent player? Chris Dickerson. He hasn’t missed the top 10 since
  • Isaac Robinson currently sits in 23rd place.
  • My FPO surprise players this year are Rebecca Cox and Heidi Laine. While not always challenging for wins, their play has remained largely consistent. They currently sit in 8th and 9th, respectively.

10. What’s next?

“Now there’s no more oak oppression, for they passed a noble law. And the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe, and saw.”

The first Major of the year (that has both divisions) marks the end of the beginning stretch of the season. We have seen the emergent dominance of Anthony Barela and the ongoing battle between Kristin and the rest of FPO. So, what’s next? Let me tell you.

  • Gannon Buhr will hold the longest MPO top 10 streak.
  • Some of the “big name” players will get a win before European Open: Calvin Heimburg and Chris Dickerson. Ricky will not.
  • Eagle will podium by the end of the west coast swing.
  • Between now and European Open, there will be no FPO winners that haven’t won already this season.
  • This will be the last tournament of the season where Kristin misses the podium.

Thanks for reading, everyone! See you in Emporia, the disc golf capital of the world!

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