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The 10 best stories of the 2022 Reserve Championship

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From the desk of Owl P. Jackson, Esq.

Cale Leiviska, course designer at Airborn Preserve. Photo: DGPT

Little birds and eagles and (trophies of) bears, oh my! The crowds were “nice Minnesota,” but that doesn’t mean it has to be “humble Minnesota.” In that aforementioned lack of humility, here are the top 10 stories from the 2022 Preserve Championship.

1. Live Disc Golf

“This is not a hockey game; it’s a circus

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I’m not commenting on the debate live vs. post produced here. I like them both and I think they both have a place in the future of coverage. But…if you weren’t watching live this weekend, you missed out on a lot of the drama. Seeing any card could only give a terribly incomplete version of the history of this tournament. Simon struggling to get back into contention on Day 2? Are the leaderboards shuffled hole by hole? Third serve card?1 Ricky’s relentless pursuit on the last day? When tournaments run like this, live coverage is a must.

2. Bradley Williams is back on top

“But guys, I’ve been there. I know how you feel.”

Calm, cool and serene. Smooth and methodical. Bradley made the comment multiple times that it seemed like fate was dragging him down this weekend. Maybe he was right. His victory came six years (to this day!) since his last Pro Tour victory: the 2016 Vibram Open. In the end, Bradley won because he played solid and consistent every round. There were better individual rounds from other players, but Bradley chained three days together and emerged victorious.

3. The return of Ricky Wysocki

“If we can’t beat them, we might as well keep our pride.”

Golf fans will be familiar with the “roar of the tiger.” Cheers from the crowd rang out on the field as Tiger Woods made the charge for him on the final day. The players began to shake in their boots. On a much smaller scale, that happened this weekend as Ricky Wysocki hit putt after putt until those rapacious legs emerged. Ricky fought all the way to share the lead, but ultimately fell short when he pitched out of bounds in the 18th. Ricky’s Lyme disease outbreak kept him out of the Portland Open, Beaver State Fling and the Match Play Championship. . With so many big name players losing time this season, it was good to see him back in action. Sockibomb is back, baby!

4. Paige goes wire to wire

“No matter what people say or do… we have to be ourselves.”

Paige “don’t call me Paige Pierce” Pierce was -8 through the first 9 holes of the tournament. She never looked back. This was Paige’s tournament to lose from the get-go, and she pulled off a 5-shot victory. Everything else that happened at FPO felt like a footnote. To the surprise of basically no one, Paige Pierce also won the last DGPT tournament that Bradley Williams won. She has been very good for a long time. She has now won 70 Elite Series events.

5. Something I loved about The Preserve: the crowds

“We are not thugs. We are not thugs.”

Disc golf is huge in Minnesota, especially around the Twin Cities. The galleries were great all weekend. Over 1,300 people attended…and it wasn’t just for the MPO lead card on the last day. A group had already gathered to watch FPO on Friday. The Preserve is so sprawling and open that it seems to have plenty of room for viewers. It never felt crowded or distracted. Pro Tip: Check out Scott Stokely’s YouTube page to see how much galleries and autograph lines mean to veterans of the game.

6. Another thing I loved about the Reserve: highlights

“Did you all enjoy that? They too, because they are still three points up and we are one period away from defeat”.

Airborne Preserve no longer feels like the golf course it used to be, but it’s open enough to allow players to hit the shots they want to hit. We were able to see many highlights throughout the tournament. A handful of holes are legitimate ace runs, the eagles are there for the taking, and throw-ins seem to catch strings every 15 minutes. Some of the best? Bradley Williams’ shocked face after making a blind birdie from 250 feet:

Bradley Williams Throwing Birdie

Simon with a 310′ eagle:

Simon Lizotte Eagle

And my personal favorite: Calvin “gets emotional” after nailing a 280-foot eagle:

Calvin Heimburg Eagle

Oh… and about the 18th hole. Yes, it may be a bit soft. Yes, entire groups can have carded eagles. But you have to want a final hole that allows that possibility of making a difference. Stop being so heavy! Have some fun!

7. Podium finish for Kyle Klein

“And just when you think they’re going to break…”

Did you know that Kyle Klein is ranked 10th in Pro Tour points? I didn’t. After last year’s performance, it seemed like Klein was just below that elite level of player. This year has been off to a slower start than most expected. In fact, this wasn’t just Kyle’s first Elite Series podium finish of the year – it was his first Elite Series top 10 finish! Here’s hoping that the ultimate Discmania crush boy can keep it up.

8. MPO winners

“And when the wind blows hard, and the sky is black…”

This was Bradley’s first win of the 2022 season. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, not because Bradley can’t win, but because of the number of unique winners this year. Look at this. There have been nine Elite Series/Majors so far this year. There have been seven different winners. Only Ricky and Simon have won twice. Just for fun, let’s add the Silver Series and Matchplay Championship events. 11 different winners! This should be a fun rest of the season.

9. Summary of MPOs/FPOs

“When the roosters crow and the cows roll around in the pasture…”

A couple of other players deserve a quick mention for their performances: Missy Gannon appears to be rounding off last year’s late-season form. Ella Hansen continues to impress. Catrina Allen needs to arm herself for all 3 rounds. Eveliina Salonen made over 50% of her C1X putts! Simon fought hard for back-to-back-to-back but came up short at the end of the third round. James Conrad and Adam Hammes walk up. Gannon Buhr has the same problem as Catrina. And where was Paul McBeth? He got a top 10, but did he even show up in the last two days’ coverage?

10. The Bear and the Ring

“And when everyone says it can’t be done…”

From the standard discus at the OTB Open to the Native American spear at the Tallahassee Open, we’ve seen it all when it comes to trophies. This week was fun. The bear is one of the most memorable trophies out there for two reasons: 1) it’s almost as tall as Paige and 2) Ricky dropped it last year! I’m also intrigued by the gold ring. It’s not a green jacket, but it will do for now.

Thanks for reading everyone! Let me know in the comments or on Reddit what stories you think I missed!

sniloans