A great way to kick off the big season.
21 April 2022 by Christopher Wiklund in Analysis, Opinion commentary
The first Major of the 2022 season had it all: thrills, chills, ups, downs and a pinch of controversy at the end.
Chris Dickerson and Paige Pierce picked up the wins. It was Dickerson’s second major victory and his third victory of the season. In our last power rankings, I suggested that no MPO player broke away from the pack. Dickerson has now won three of the last four events he has entered (although two of them have been Silver Series events) and has placed in the top 10 in 6 of his 8 events this season. Players like Ricky Wysocki, Calvin Heimburg and Paul McBeth also staged strong campaigns. Wysocki has three straight podiums and a victory at Texas States to hang his hat on, Heimburg has three straight podiums but no wins, and McBeth has a few wins but has been plagued by tough rounds that cost him.
Along with the major victory, what began to separate Dickerson from the pack was that he only had seven rounds where he carded more than one bogey or worse, and only 18 such holes on the season. By comparison, McBeth has carded 13 bogeys or worse, Heimburg has taken 22 bogeys or worse, and Wysocki has 24 bogeys or worse. While McBeth took fewer single bogeys, he took more double bogeys: five to two for Dickerson. Both McBeth and Dickerson have a triple bogey.
At this level of competition, and with the depth of the field, those extra hits can be the difference between a round that will keep a player in contention for victory and one that knocks someone out of the top five. The Champions Cup final round is illustrative: Dickerson went bogey-free while Wysocki took two bogeys and Heimburg took a double and a single bogey. Those extra shots made the difference.
Kristin Tattar was probably the most excellent player in the FPO this season and was leading the event going into the final holes of the final round, but she couldn’t hold off Paige Pierce. Pierce hit a triple bogey 7 on the first hole of the event, and it took her all weekend to recover, but she caught Kristin late in the third round and was able to take the win late when Tattar put four on the 18th hole. . Pierce deserves all the credit for his competitive spirit and ability to keep a cool head in the game, but it was Tattar’s event to win. So far, Tattar has been held back from the top spot on the podium in 2021.
Pierce has long secured her legacy as the greatest woman to ever play the game, and perhaps one of the greatest female players of all time, regardless of gender. Tying Valarie Jenkins Doss for the all-time major lead in FPO further cements his status. In the long run, Pierce is playing with house money and has nothing left to prove but to get his second straight win at what is probably the biggest event yet and on the toughest course the tour has to offer. has experienced this season probably seems pretty darn sacred. Well.
Dickerson isn’t on Pierce’s level from a long-term story perspective, but he makes a strong case that he should be considered one of the greatest of all time. Dickerson is the only player to have won at least one major tournament, a DGPT Tour championship and a Silver Series event. And, note, he has two Majors and two Tour Championships. He won 53% of the events he entered. Dickerson has only one DGPT Elite Series victory under his belt – the 2021 Green Mountain Championship – but it’s worth noting that Dickerson has never been on a full tour, as we’ve come to define it in recent years, until this year. On top of all that, there are only 16 players who have already won two or more major tournaments, and only eight of them have more than two major titles under their belt. Dickerson is one of those 16 elites.
Calvin Heimburg is so close to a major victory that we can taste it. He has three Elite Series wins to his name, 15 podiums and 35 top 10s. In 2021 he wasn’t really in the game when the final putt landed, but in 2020 he came close to defeating the USDGC under the rain. For better or for worse, Heimburg ended up in this strange place of “but”. At the moment, Heimburg is one of the best players of his generation, but… not a Major. It’s not fair, but that’s where we are. The thing is, the USDGC 2020 and the Champions Cup are Heimburg’s only top 10 finishes in a Major.
Kristin Tattar’s 9-year-old daughter was on the course as Tattar’s caddy in the final round. I don’t need to rehash the details – you can see them in this recap. Regardless of your position on the rule itself — “A caddy is a person who carries a player’s equipment or provides other assistance during the round. Players may nominate one caddy at a time during their turn. A caddy must be at least 13 years old and must adhere to the same Official Rules of Disc Golf and Competition Manual that their player must follow, including dress code, although a caddy does not need to being a member of PDGA nor a certified official” – or who was to blame, this is the second event this season where we have seen specific rules on specific players put in place in a very visible and possibly unfair way. At the Music City Open, Jeff Spring went to Nikko Locastro’s band and gave Locastro a warning for playing too slowly.
The rules of the PDGA are clear in that only members of the player group can appeal or enforce violations of the rules. They are also clear that “in PDGA Majors and Elite Series events, the pool consists of the players themselves, each player’s individual caddy, any active tournament personnel such as seeders, officials Tournament etc. and any accredited media ONLY No other persons may be with the playgroup All others (including players who have already completed their turn) are considered spectators and must remain in the areas reserved for spectators, away from the playing group.” On this basis, it is difficult to say that Spring or Elaine King were breaking a rule by enforcing (or warning, in King’s case) rules on Locastro and Tattar; however , it’s when and how they chose to exercise their rights as “band members” that might be a question mark. We’re not going to play Monday Morning QB or entertain counterfactuals here. , but What these two incidents highlight is the need for improved and consistent rule enforcement across all elite event maps, and for DGPT and PDGA to remove the enforcement burden from players. and assume it themselves as a responsibility.
The PDGA and DGPT have set precedent in that they can and will target specific players for rule enforcement at seemingly random points during the round. Undoubtedly, there were many officials and people familiar with the rules at the start of the Tattar round, so why was this rule not enforced before the start, and not before the round is well engaged? There are probably other players as slow or even slower than Locastro who are not tracked by the Tour Director. Undoubtedly, many caddies and players broke the dress code or a number of other event rules throughout the weekend and were not required to send them into the gallery.
It’s very unlikely we’ll see standardized, professional rules officials on every map or hole this season, but it’s something that should be on the to-do list for 2023 and beyond. As we start to see the prize pools go up, and every event that pushes or breaks the record takes great pride in pointing out that their prize pools are huge, unfair enforcement of the rules is going to start costing players real money. In this case, it may have cost Tattar at least $3,250.
– We generally describe the start of the season as strongly favoring open bomber style courses. This has not necessarily been the case this year. We’ve seen a much more balanced approach to course selection, with Vegas, Belton and Music City and half of Waco featuring outdoor play, and Texas States, half of Waco and the Champions Cup featuring more indoor play. Woods. It’s good!
– Ohn Scoggins hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since Vegas and has finished in the top four in 4 of his last 6 events. Just in case you haven’t realized how great Scoggins has always been on every course and in every style.
– Adam Hammes somehow dodged the criticism that has been leveled at other top next-gen type players like Kona Panis. Hammes has not made the top 10 at an Elite Series event since Vegas, and has more finishes outside the top 50 (3) than he has finished in the top 20 (1) since then. In fact, while Panis has been steadily improving his finishes since Waco, Hammes has been on a downward trend. He finished 88th this weekend.
– Valerie Mandujano finished outside the top five for the first time since 2021 Ledgestone with a sixth-place finish. Fortunately, his top ten streak, which has lasted since 2021 DGLO, is still intact. Valerie finished one spot ahead of her sister, Alexis, who notched her second consecutive top 10 finish of the season.
– What happened with the putting this weekend? Gourmet baskets? Easy greens? Good players? Increase attention because it was major? There were 12 FPO players who bet 80% or better of Circle 1, and 48 MPO players who bet 90% or better. In the last Elite Series, Texas States stage, only 11 MPO players reached over 90% of C1, and only 3 FPO players exceeded 80%.