PDGA Champions Cup Preview – Who Will Win the First Disc Golf Major Championship of 2022?

The first disc golf major championship of 2022 — The PDGA Champions Cup — is set to take place later this week on the famed W.R. Jackson course in Appling, Georgia. The tough woods course is hosting its first major since the 2017 PDGA World Championships, won by Ricky Wysocki and Paige Pierce.

Which players are most likely to walk away with the MPO and FPO titles on Sunday? To answer that question, let’s take a look at the two events held at W.R. Jackson that we have UDisc statistics for — the 2018 and 2019 Ed Headrick Hall of Fame Classics. We will look at the MPO side first, then move to the FPO side.

A short video preview of the 2022 Champions Cup from PDGA itself:

Mixed Professional Open (MPO)

Paul McBeth and Gregg Barsby finished first and second in the 2018 HOF Classic, while Calvin Heimburg, Adam Hammes and Chris Dickerson took the top three spots in the 2019 HOF Classic.

A common denominator in both tournaments — and indeed, the biggest common denominator across both MPO and FPO and the biggest statistical factor leading to success on the W.R. Jackson course — is Circle 1 in regulation and Circle 2 in regulation.

In the 2018 MPO event, the C1R and C2R rankings pretty much mirrored the final leaderboard. The top 16 in C1R all finished tied for 16th or better in the standings. Fifteen of the top 16 in C2R also finished tied for 16th or better — and the top three in C2R placed first (McBeth), second (Barsby) and tied for third.

In the 2019 MPO event, all of the top eight finishers ranked in the top nine in C1R. Thirteen of the top 14 in C2R finished tied for 14th or better.

The “strokes gained tee to green” and “strokes gained putting” numbers further tell the tale of W.R. Jackson — hot putting can improve your position a couple spots, but if you’re not among the leaders from tee to green, your chances of winning are nonexistent.

What Are The Disc Golf Circles?

There are two Circles in disc golf which are used to indicate the putting area of each hole. Circle 1 is any area within 10 meters (32.8 ft) of the basket and any throw from this area is considered a putt. Circle 2 is any area within 20 meters (65.6 ft) and outside of 10 meters from the basket.

Source – https://www.dgputtheads.com/disc-golf-putting-rules

Disc Golf Circle 1 and Circle 2 meaning

Which players lead the way in C1R and C2R rate?

In 2021, the world’s top five players were all among the best in C1R and C2R percentages — as one would expect:

Ricky Wysocki50%First72%Fifth
Paul McBeth49%Second72%Eighth
Eagle McMahon48%Third72%Ninth
Calvin Heimburg47%Fourth69%14th
Chris Dickerson46%Ninth69%15th

Interestingly, the next four best players (who are entered in the Champions Cup) in combined C1R and C2R were Europeans:

Tuomas Hyytiäinen47%sixth71%10st
Lauri Lehtinen46%seventh74%first
Niklas Anttila46%eighth73%fourth
Väinö Mäkelä46%10th72%seventh

As for 2022, here are the players entered in the Champions Cup who are leading in C1R and C2R:

Calvin Heimburg53%1st78%1st
Chris Dickerson 51%2nd76%2nd
Ricky Wysocki 50%3rd73%3rd
James Conrad49%fourth71%fifth
Paul McBeth48%fifth70%sixth
Albert Tamm47%sixth69%eighth
Joel Freeman47%seventh70%seventh
Ezra Aderhold47%eighth69%ninth
Nikko Locastro47%ninth73%fourth
Scott Withers47%10th68%11th
Kyle Klein47%11th68%15th

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What Putters Professional Disc Golfers Use?

So who do I think are the favorites this weekend?

Chris Dickerson is red-hot right now, having won a pair of DGPT Silver Series events (Open at Belton, Music City Open). He’s also always a good bet at W.R. Jackson, finishing tied for fifth in the 2017 Worlds, sixth in the 2018 HOF Classic and third in the 2019 HOF Classic. And of course, he has the statistical profile one would look for.

Calvin Heimburg won the last significant event played at W.R. Jackson (the 2019 HOF Classic) and is hotter than anyone in C1R and C2R so far in 2022. Can he finally break through and win his first major?

Ricky Wysocki and Paul McBeth are always going to be among the favorites, and it’s no different here.

Reigning world champion James Conrad placed in the top 10 in both the 2018 HOF Classic (tied for 10th) and 2019 HOF Classic (tied for ninth). His statistical profile and past performances underline what we already knew — he’s a beast in the woods.

And be on the lookout for a possible European breakthrough. It’s been 13 years since Jesper Lundmark won the last major title by a European player, the 2009 European Open. But the statistical profile of several Europeans suits W.R. Jackson well. One of them is Albert Tamm, who just won the DGPT Silver Series Open at Tallahassee, the first DGPT victory by a native European since Simon Lizotte won the first DGPT event of 2018.

2022 DGPT Champions and highest rated rounds

2022 DGPT winners and TOP rated rounds, both MPO & FPO. Click here to check them out!

2022 DGPT Champions and highest rated rounds

Female Professional Open (FPO)

The last three significant events held on the W.R. Jackson course — 2017 Worlds and the 2018 and 2019 HOF Classics — have finished without much suspense. Paige Pierce won the 2017 world title by five shots, Catrina Allen dominated the 2018 HOF Classic by an eight-shot margin, and Sarah Hokom beat Pierce by four shots — with Pierce five more shots ahead of third — in the 2019 HOF Classic.

In 2018, Allen demolished the HOF Classic field in C1R (30% — the next highest was 11%) and C2R (50% — the next highest was 31%).

In 2019, the top eight players in C1R all finished in the top eight on the leaderboard. The top nine in C2R all finished in the top 10. Hokom cemented her victory with superb putting (94% from C1X, 38% from C2), but she also was No. 2 in strokes gained tee to green.

Scrambling also played more of a factor in the 2019 HOF Classic (on the FPO side). The top seven in scrambling all finished in the top eight overall.

Five players in particular stand out for their repeated strong performances on the W.R. Jackson course:

  • Paige Pierce won Worlds in 2017 and placed second in the HOF Classic in 2018 and 2019.
  • Catrina Allen placed fourth in Worlds in 2017, won the HOF Classic in 2018 and was third in 2019.
  • Sarah Hokom tied for sixth in Worlds in 2017, placed third in the 2018 HOF Classic and won it in 2019.
  • Jessica Weese tied for sixth in Worlds in 2017, tied for fifth in the 2018 HOF Classic and was fifth again in 2019.
  • Lisa Fajkus placed third in Worlds in 2017, tied for fifth in the 2018 HOF Classic and was seventh in 2019.

In addition, Holly Finley tied for seventh in the 2018 HOF Classic, and placed fourth in 2019.

Statistically, these players led the way in C1R and C2R in 2021:

Catrina Allen38%first62%second
Paige Pierce37%second60%third
Macie Velediaz36%third56%sixth
Jennifer Allen36%fourth60%fourth
Kristin Tattar34%fifth65%first
Hailey King34%sixth57%fifth
Kona Panis33%seventh54%eighth
Jessica Weese31%eighth52%10th
Eveliina Salonen30%ninth53%ninth
Henna Blomroos29%10th56%seventh

And these players are leading the way in 2022:

Eveliina Salonen50%first68%first
Kristin Tattar45%second66%third
Natalie Ryan45%third62%fifth
Catrina Allen44%fourth67%second
Paige Pierce43%fifth64%fourth
Kat Mertsch41%sixth61%eighth
Henna Blomroom41%seventh59%12th
Holyn Handley39%eighth60%10th
Rebecca Cox38%ninth62%sixth
Maria Oliva38%ninth62%sixth
Valerie Mandujano38%11th60%11th

Also worth mentioning, these five players stand out in scrambling over the 2021 and 2022 seasons (it can be a pretty volatile stat from year to year):

Henna Blomroos49%second40%ninth
Eveliina Salonen48%third43%seventh
Kristin Tattar43%fifth38%11th
Catrina Allen41%seventh46%third
Sarah Hokom40%eighth44%fourth

Worth noting, Valerie Mandujano has been on fire scrambling so far this season, her 59% success rate leading the FPO field by seven percent over Ohn Scoggins (52%).

Who are the FPO favorites this weekend?

This is a great chance for Eveliina Salonen to pick up her second major championship. This course favors her strengths from tee to green, and minimizes her glaring weakness (putting).

The world’s top three FPO players — Paige Pierce, Catrina Allen and Kristin Tattar — will almost certainly be in the mix at or near the top of the leaderboard.

Based on their past success at W.R. Jackson, Sarah Hokom, Jessica Weese and Lisa Fajkus must be considered decent sleeper picks.

Keep an eye on Valerie Mandujano, who already broke through for her first DGPT victory (the Waco Charity Open) and has a solid statistical profile for success at W.R. Jackson

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