Last weekend’s 2022 Trubank Des Moines Challenge was the most exciting tournament of the season yet. Team Innova’s Robert Burridge, a player who was competing in the Amateur division less than a year ago, faced off against Simon Lizotte in a playoff that will go down in disc golf history. Though Burridge finished in second place, he put on an unprecedented and inspirational display for a player so new to the MPO division. Joel Freeman made the podium as well, finishing in a tie for third. And Eveliina Salonen took second place in FPO, her best result at a DGPT tournament so far this season. With the 2022 Professional Disc Golf World Championship starting next week, excitement on the Pro Tour is mounting at just the right moment.
View this post on Instagram
This year’s Des Moines Challenge was played in Indianola, Iowa at the beloved Pickard Park, originally designed by Juliana Korver. The event had the largest MPO payout for a three-round tournament ever, with the winner receiving $11,000. Not only was the payout huge, but as the final event of the DGPT regular season, players were gunning for every point possible to earn themselves a spot in the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship in October.
A rain delay on the first day of competition caused a tight schedule on Saturday. Through the bad weather and rescheduling, Robert Burridge sat just two strokes off the lead going into the final round. A rookie player, his performance thus far was impressive, but lead-card, final-day pressure would surely unnerve the inexperienced competitor. Robert Burridge, however, came out on Sunday looking like a veteran Pro. He shot the hot round of the day, 11 under par, and made 100% of his inside the circle putts.
This stellar round was good enough to land Burridge in a tie for first place with Simon Lizotte. The two faced off in a four-hole playoff that will be remembered as one of the hardest fought battles ever by an athlete so new to the MPO division. After sinking a clutch 55 footer on the 3rd hole of the playoff, Burridge forced Lizotte to make an outside the circle death putt to push to the next hole. On hole four of the playoff, Burridge threw a beautiful-looking tee shot that was on track to land in the circle. Heart-breakingly, his shot skipped off of a stump just 25 feet from the basket and landed 60 feet away with no look at the pin. With no other option, Burridge layed up, leaving Simon Lizotte a 38 footer for the victory.
Though Robert Burridge did not win the 2022 Des Moines Challenge, he should be overjoyed with how he played. His finish was 40 places better than his next best Elite Series finish to date. He averaged nearly 50 rating points above his player rating for the three rounds. His $7,000 payout from this one tournament is more than all his other tournament winnings combined. Less than a year since first taking cash in the Pro Division, Robert Burridge has a long and successful disc golf career in his future. His composure and sportsmanship already look like that of a champion. He won the 2022 College Disc Golf National Championship in AM1 in April of 2022, just a few months ago. This close second place result at the Des Moines Challenge will make him all the better prepared to win the next time he finds himself in the hunt on the Pro Tour.
View this post on Instagram
Team Innova on the Podium
Joel Freeman also had a great weekend in Indianola. Joel finished in a tie for third, his second podium finish at an Elite Series event this season. Eveliina Salonen took second place in the FPO division. She was second in the field in Strokes Gained Tee to Green and second in the field in Parked percentage. This was Eveliina’s best finish at a Pro Tour event so far this year. Kat Mertsch finished in fourth place and Henna Blomroos tied for ninth.
The 2022 Professional Disc Golf World Championship starts next week. Robert Burridge serves as a reminder of just how deep the pro disc golf field has become. In Emporia, it will come down to who is best prepared physically and mentally, who knows the course, and who wants it most. Keep an eye on Robert Burridge, Calvin Heimburg, Eveliina Salonen, Ohn Scoggins, Hailey King, and the rest of Team Innova at Worlds. Don’t count anyone out!