Swedish Open 2024: Proctor Wins First DGPT Event, Saarinen Wins Fifth Straight

It was an elite putting display from both Swedish Open champions

Silva Saarinen won her fifth straight DGPT Europe event at the 2024 Swedish Open. Photo: DGPT

The European swing is kicking into full gear. An advance party of the many US-based pros who will be contending for the European Open are flying in from across the Atlantic to tackle the cool forests of Scandinavia in the lead up to the next PDGA major. If this weekend’s Swedish Open was any guide, though, the many up-and-coming Europeans in both FPO and MPO are set to make this the toughest year yet for any visitors to fly home with cash and hardware.

James Proctor broke through for his first DGPT/Elite Series win in 75 starts, while in FPO, Silva Saarinen chased down Iceland’s María Kristínardóttir and held off Henna Blomroos for her fifth win in a row on the European DGPT.

‘Skogsbad’ only became a word in the Swedish language in 2017. It is derived from the Japanese expression Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing – the idea that contact with nature is crucial for human health. We all got to enjoy some forest bathing this weekend as we followed the players around the lush and serene fairways of the Ymergårdens Discgolfcenter between towering Nordic pine and fir trees. The beauty of this course was a feature of the broadcast.

Solid Silva

As far as key moments go, hole 17 on championship Sunday was far from the turning point in the contest, but it was one of the most telling moments of Silva Saarinen’s five stroke win, her fifth straight. After Henna Blomroos had missed a long birdie attempt, Saarinen could have been forgiven for laying up from circle’s edge and taking a three stroke lead into the final hole. Instead, staring at a drop-off behind the basket, Silva drilled a crisp putt into the chains with authority to make it a four stroke lead that became five after Blomroos missed the comebacker.

Saarinen was making putting look easy in the final round, hitting 100 percent of her circle one attempts to complete an average of 96 percent for the tournament. This gave her a whopping 8.7 strokes gained on the green. Given that the average of those putts was 15 feet and that Silva had the longest cumulative putting distance in the field over the three rounds, it is clear what a weapon her putter was for her.

Those of us not fully familiar with the European scene learned a new name this weekend too: María Kristínardóttir from Iceland. Playing since 2020 and a pro since 2021, Kristínardóttir has dominated her local scene, racking up 19 wins, mainly in Iceland. After a 9th place finish in the Turku Open two weeks ago, María shot out of the gate in round one, with a 5-under par 55 and a four stroke lead. Kristínardóttir admitted to feeling some nerves in round two, though, as she carded four bogeys in the first six holes before stemming the bleeding and finishing at three over par and holding on to third place as Blomroos and Saarinen came to the fore.

The two Finns started championship Sunday level at 5-under. The final round was played in steady rain for most of the morning. Although she dropped a stroke early with a bogey on hole 2, Saarinen pulled a few strokes ahead by mid round, before Blomroos got back to within 2 strokes with a birdie on hole 12. Silva then parked her drive on hole 13 and Blomroos missed a long birdie attempt, creating the three stroke separation that held until the final holes.

“I feel good,” said Saarinen. “I haven’t played this well before in the rain, so I am happy. After the fifth win in a row, I hope I am confident.”

With doubt still remaining on the status of Kristin Tattar’s injury and the emerging strength of the European women overall, let alone on their home courses, Saarinen has emerged as a clear contender for the upcoming European Major on ‘The Beast’ in Nokia, Finland.

Proctor Breaks the Ice

James Proctor wins the 2024 Swedish Open. Photo: DGPT

After a second place in the Turku Open in Finland two weeks ago, James Proctor was showing signs that a big win was imminent. After 14 years on the tour, 202 tournaments overall, and 43 PDGA victories, it’s fair to say that the Californian was overdue. In a field featuring Calvin Heimburg, Ricky Wysocki, Paul McBeth, Eagle McMahon, and Niklas Anttila, Proctor emerged victorious for the first time at an Elite Series event.

It was another disc golfer who got his start in California that led the way after round one, though. McBeth, one of three former world champions in the field, shared the round one lead with Czech Jakub Knápek and Estonian Roland Kõur at 9-under par, with Proctor one stroke back in fourth.

Proctor leapt to a three stroke lead after round two while Knápek took himself out of contention with three bogeys in the front nine, his even par round dropping him to 19th place. McBeth also found trouble and bogeys that dropped him to a share of fourth with seventeen-year-old Finn Eetu Tuominen. While Kõur stayed steady to share third place with Swede Dennis Augustsson, who climbed from 22nd place on the back of a 10 under par 50 – the hot round of the tournament that he shared with Ricky Wysocki.

Proctors second round was punctuated with five circle two putts, including a 50-footer on hole 4 and a pair of 45 footers on holes 16 and 17. Similar to his FPO counterpart, Silva Saarinen, Proctor was gaining most of his strokes on the greens; he was 100% from inside the circle in round two.

Proctor credited the C2 putting as being the difference maker in the win. “On this course, it’s very difficult to get into C1, so making putts and keeping momentum going is huge,” he said. “I just tried to stay really confident off the tee. You can find trouble, but you can also simplify some of the tee shots and give yourself opportunities. That was my game plan — I just wanted to give myself a bunch of opportunities and hopefully knock down the putts when I had them.”

In the final round, Proctor’s lead cardmates all fell away, with Augustsson dropping to fifth place, Kõur to seventh, and Tuominen to eighth. Meanwhile, the chase card stormed home with Mauri Villmann and Joey Anderson shooting 9-under and McBeth 8-under to get within three strokes of Proctor and grab a share of second place. As in the second round, it was again the C2 putting from Proctor that made the difference. Proctor hit three big birdie putts from outside the circle late in the round to keep his chasers at bay. He was 56% from circle two and gained 7.11 strokes from outside the circle for the tournament.

Proctor was asked after the tournament, after finally breaking through, if he could put the feeling into words. “You know I’ve seen so many people win and I’ve always kinda wondered what that would feel like,” he said. “Sometimes it felt possible, other times it didn’t. But I’m just happy to be here and be surrounded by my friends and all you amazing fans. You know my wife back home, my Mom and Dad back home are some of my biggest supporters. It’s been a long journey. I’ve been playing disc golf since 2000-2001, so after jumping on the Pro Tour and battling the best, it feels amazing. It definitely feels like there’s a weight lifted off my shoulders, but at the same time I’d love to finish this trip out on a good note and keep playing good golf.”

  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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