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From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

MVP Open TD Steve Dodge. Photo: DGPT

Wind and rain! Thunder and lightning! The MVP Open got off to a very slow start but, in the end, it delivered the best final round of the season. We had chase card chargers and actual playoffs in the “playoffs.” Leave the disc on the ground and grab a wicked good seat behind the 8th green. In my opinion, these are the top 10 storylines of the 2022 MVP Open at Maple Hill.

1. Simon Lizotte wins from the chase card

Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit…

“It feels so unreal. It makes no sense…at no point this whole weekend I thought I had a chance to win.” Those were the words of Simon Lizotte after winning his fourth Elite Series event of the season. Can you blame him for feeling that way? Simon shot +2 in the first round, good for T-39th place and 7 strokes off the lead. No chance to win. In round 2, he tied for the hot round with an excellent -8. But even then, he didn’t show up on coverage. He was too far down the leaderboard to start the day and was still six back from Corey Ellis at the end of the day. No chance to win. On the final day, Simon shot the hot round again, a blistering 10 down. That ended up being good enough…more on that in storyline #2. You could feel the excitement of the crowd when it became clear that Simon was going to win. He’s the fan-favorite everywhere he goes, but here he’s also the hometown hero.

2. Corey Ellis falls short

Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.

My favorite camerawork of the year came courtesy of JomezPro in the very first tournament of the year, the Las Vegas Challenge (45:25 mark for those who are curious). As Drew Gibson tapped in for the win, Gannon Buhr stood in the sand trap, head in his hands, gutted that he fell short…and all of it in the same frame. This weekend, we had that clip’s spiritual successor. For a few brief, excruciating seconds as Simon celebrated victory, the camera lingered on Corey Ellis in the clubhouse. Head in his hands…absolutely devastated…absolutely devastating.

Corey Ellis and Linus Carlsson started hole 18 tied with Simon at -16. Hole 18 is an interesting finishing hole. If you play it for par, you will almost certainly get par. But if you play for birdie and fall short, you’ll almost certainly bogey. Linus hit an early tree to take himself out of contention immediately. Corey laid out one of the best drives of the tournament, leaving him with a short sidearm approach to the island. It’s a shot he makes 95 times out of 100. And he sailed it…straight O.B. This is the second time Corey fell just short this season, along with DGLO. I hope they hold onto that shot of him in the clubhouse, head in hands. That’s sports. They’ll need to run that clip again when he finally gets that win. It’s only a matter of time.

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3. Natalie Ryan gets second win

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter!

What a treat to have an exciting ending in the FPO this week! Kristin’s dominance over the past few weeks has made it hard for other competitors to hang around for multiple rounds. This time she found competition from the chase card in Paige Pierce and from her own card in Natalie Ryan. Natalie and Kristin went back and forth all of round 4 and ended tied at +1. During the playoff, on hole 18, Natalie crushed a drive almost to pin height on the fairway. A short pitch up and tap in was all it took from there. This is Natalie’s second Elite Series win of the season. Natalie says that the best part of her game is her forehand upshot. It’s clear that she has elite power and distance off the tee. So, we can expect her to be in contention whenever her putter gets hot.

Of course, whenever she plays well, we also expect a lot more interest in FPO. Take a look at the discussion numbers on posts and videos about FPO this week compared to the previous few. The discussion concerning trans women in athletics isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

4. Maple Hill

Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit…

Maple Hill is the best venue on the tour. How many signature holes can one course have? Where it really shines, however, is with its crowd. Show someone MVP and Emporia Worlds and ask them which one is the World Championships. Sure, you might think that some of the 8-hole antics are a little bit cringey. But I would argue that their presence on hole 8 is secondary to their presence away from hole 8. For me, the best part of Maple Hill is when the players arrive at hole 5, along the water’s edge. Over and over again, you hear the roar of the crowd echoing over the pond. That’s Maple Hill. That’s what gives me chills. I don’t know how to feel about the first iteration of disc golf playoffs, but I know that Maple Hill is more than deserving of its spot as the climax of the pro tour proper.

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5. Ricky vs. Paul

Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!

Third card action? The best (only?) rivalry in disc golf battling for the title of tour points champion? Yes, please! We’ve seen many Ricky and Paul battles throughout the years, but probably none quite like this. Paul and Ricky were doing their best to make a charge on the final day but ultimately were already out of this tournament. Live coverage did a much better job this week reminding us of other things that were at stake. It came down to just a handful of points. In fact, Ricky’s drop zone putt on 18 might have been what sealed the title for him. Congrats to Ricky…After all, this is the title that means more to him than any other. We’ll see if he feels the same way after winning USDGC or the Pro Tour Championship in the next few weeks. Just please, pretty please, don’t force Calvin to make another acceptance speech!

6. Kristin Tattar’s win streak

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum! Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

We need to take a moment to recognize the FPO points champion, Kristin Tattar. Frankly, the battle for the title wasn’t even close. She hasn’t missed a podium all season, but her run over the past few weeks was truly remarkable. She won her last 4 events: an Elite Series, a Major, a Silver Series, and a playoff event. This week, she came up just short, saying, “I gave my best, this was my hundred percent, and I regret nothing.” It’s hard to consider anyone other than Kristin the favorite for the final two events of the year.

7. Ohn, Missy, and Val

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum! Dein Kleid will mich was lehren:

Going into the weekend, the most intriguing cut-line battle was for the FPO 4th seed, earning the player a bye to the semifinals of the Pro Tour Finale. At the start of the tournament, Ohn Scoggins held the spot, but she fell back quickly while Missy Gannon and Valerie Mandujano fought towards the top. Missy and Val both found themselves on the lead card for the fourth and final round, but had brutal rounds, shooting +8 and +4 respectively. Meanwhile, Ohn Scoggins shot a cool -5, tied 6th on the weekend and kept her bye to the semifinals. She did it again! What a season for Ohn Scoggins!

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8. Movers and shakers

Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit…

MVP Open offered the final chance to earn a spot in the Pro Tour Championship. Or course, this can all change over the next few weeks as people commit or drop out, but let’s talk about some people who made late pushes or big moves. In MPO: Brodie Smith, Linus Carlsson, and Andrew Marwede played well enough this week to qualify outright. Thomas Gilbert moved up one spot to earn a spot in the play-in. In FPO: Holyn Handley moved up 4 spots to qualify outright. Meanwhile, Macie Velediaz and Jennifer Allen qualified for the play-in.

9. Better luck next year

Gibt Trost und Kraft zu jeder Zeit.

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Sadly, we also need to take a look at some surprising people who will miss the Pro Tour Finale completely: Nate Sexton (who clearly made the choice), Luke Humphries (remember when?), fan favorite Paul Ulibarri, 5X Juliana Korver, helicopter connoisseur Kona Panis, and many more of your favorites. There’s always next year for these players, but it is going to get harder and harder each year. Hopefully that means the playoffs become more meaningful too.

10. Live disc golf

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum! Das soll dein Kleid mich lehren.

Outside of a moment like the “holy shot” itself, tournaments like this are the best argument for consuming live disc golf over post-produced. In FPO, you needed to see two cards to get the full picture. In MPO, you needed to see three! The final round is right there on YouTube…if you’re not watching live, you’re missing out.

Thanks for reading, everyone! Let me know the storylines you think I missed. See you at USDGC and Throw Pink!


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