The 2023 USDGC and TPWDGC – Tournament Recap

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The Biggest Party in Disc Golf

The 25th Annual United States Disc Golf Championship was held last week in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Kyle Klein won over Team Innova’s Bradley Williams by one stroke, securing Kyle his first Major title and Bradley his best ever Major finish. 

The 2023 Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship had the most exciting conclusion in the tournament’s history. Holyn Handley beat the number one ranked FPO player in the world, Kristin Tattar, in a playoff that ended on the iconic Hole 17. Innova’s Eveliina Salonen and Henna Blomroos tied for 3rd. Both were in contention for the win for the entire week. 

The crowds were the biggest we’ve seen at Winthrop, with thousands of spectators lining the final-day fairways. The Vendor Village was bustling with dozens of vendors including food trucks, craft beer carts, disc sellers from many manufactures, innovators with new products being introduced to the sport, and the USDGC Official Pro Shop. The Fresh and Now concert series kept the party going into the night with live bands taking the stage each day after the final putt dropped. It was the most activity-packed, festival-style, fun Championship week in 25 years. 

Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship Recap

Salonen Unrivaled Off the Tee

Eveliina Salonen was a machine off the tee at the 2023 Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship, leading the field in nearly every throwing statistic. She was first in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, Fairway Hits, Parked percentage, Scramble rate, and C1 Hits in Regulation. She was also 2nd in C2 Hits in Regulation and Birdie percentage. Eveliina had a share of the lead through the first three rounds. 

On the opening day, Eveliina set the TPWDGC course record at -11. That round came in at 1038-rated, one of the best of Eveliina’s career. The big difference between that round and her 2nd and 3rd round was on the putting green. We’ve seen Eveliina find her putting stroke and shoot unbelievably hot multiple times late this season. If she can get into a rhythm on the green for an entire tournament, no one will be able to beat her. 

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Blomroos Shoots Career-Best Opening Round

Henna Blomroos tied her teammate and best friend Eveliina for 3rd place, her first podium finish in the States this season. She led the field in C2 Hits in Regulation, was 2nd in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, Fairways Hits, Birdie percentage, and had the 2nd lowest OB rate in the field. She was 3rd in C1 Hits in Regulation and Parked percentage. 

Henna shot an incredible opening round at -10, the second-hottest score of the week. That 1031-rated round was the best of Henna’s PDGA career. 

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Favorite at the Tour Championship

Hailey King finished in 9th place at the 2023 TPWDGC, leading the field in C2 putting for the event. Hailey is going into this weekend’s Tour Championships starting with two strokes for her 7th place finish in the point standings. She is a regular at Nevin Park where the tournament will be played. Given that, along with her top 10 at Throw Pink and recent win at the MVP Open, Hailey is looking like a favorite to win her 2nd Tour Championship title. 

Mertsch in Top 10

Kat Mertsch is one of the most well-rounded players on tour. She was 12th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 12th in Strokes Gained Putting at the 2023 TPWDGC. That balanced week of play was enough to earn a top 10 finish for Kat. 

Congratulations to Holyn Handley

This year’s Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship had the most dramatic finish the tournament has seen yet. Holyn Handley shot a 1031-rated, -10 final round from the chase card to force a playoff with Kristin Tattar. After a push on Hole 1, Holyn stuck the island green of Hole 17 (the 2nd hole of the playoff) to put all pressure on Tattar. Kristin came up short of the hay bales marking the OB, opening the door for Holyn Handley to make tournament history. 

The TPWDGC is treated like a Major by both the tournament staff and the players. This year, the fans showed they consider it to be as important as a Major too. For the first time, the TPWDGC peak viewership surpassed USDGC peak viewership on DGN on the final day. On Hole 18’s green at Winthrop, at least as many people watched the women’s final round as the men’s. We will continue to grow this event and give it the same respect and attention to detail as we do the USDGC. 

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United States Disc Golf Championship Recap

B Willy’s Best Ever Major Result

After 15 years of touring and grinding, Team Innova’s Bradley Williams finally earned his first Major podium at the 2023 USDGC. He finished in 2nd place, just one stroke behind the winner Kyle Klein and three strokes clear of 3rd place. Bradley led the field in C2 Hits in Regulation, had the lowest OB rate in the field, was 2nd in Fairways hits, 3rd in Strokes Gained C2, and 3rd in Scramble rate. 

Bradley says that he has been working towards this moment for his entire career. This was his first podium finish at a Major event and his first top 10 at the USDGC in 15 years of playing competitively. His game plan for managing the course and practice strategy leading up to the tournament are what brought him success. On a track like Winthrop Gold, making good decisions and keeping the disc in bounds will earn strokes on the field. 

In his post round interview, Bradley let us in on the immense pressure he felt walking up to Hole 17 in the final round. He said it was so intense it almost made him cry. That long walk between 16 and 17 is a deliberate and diabolical course element that has cracked so many on their path to the podium over the years. For Bradley to go Par, Birdie on the final two holes after feeling such heavy pressure is a testament to what a veteran player he is. 

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Freeman Shoots Hot in Early Rounds

Joel Freeman tied for 5th place at the 2023 USDGC. He shot the hot round on the first day of competition at -10 and followed that up with a -9 in round two. A tough third day kept Joel from taking home this year’s US title, but his 5th place finish is still Joel’s best yet at a Major.

Freeman led the field in Scramble rate and was 2nd in Strokes Gained Tee to Green. Impressively, Joel took an Eagle on the 549-foot Hole 10 in all four rounds of competition. 


Never Count Out Calvin

In true Vinny fashion, Calvin Heimburg, who looked completely out of it after the second round, still fought his way into the top 5 at the 2023 USDGC. His -7 on the windy third day of competition moved Calvin 28 places up the leaderboard. He has now gone 11 straight tour events finishing in the top 5. Calvin was 2nd in C1 Hits in Regulation and 6th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green. Recovering a strong finish at this year’s USDGC will greatly help Calvin’s case for Player of the Year. 

Congratulations to Kyle Klein

Kyle Klein went into the final round with a three stroke lead. A player who always does well at Winthrop, Kyle opened his lead up to eight by Hole 10. From that point, he played extremely conservatively, which ultimately led him to win by a much smaller margin than he had mid-round. Kyle gave Bradley Williams a glimmer of hope by throwing OB twice on Hole 18, but had a big enough cushion to take triple bogey and still walk away the winner.

This was the first time ever that there were no former USDGC winners in the top 15 going into Championship Sunday. The field has never been stronger and the youngest touring players have never looked so formidable. 

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25 Years of the USDGC 

Since 1999, the United States Disc Golf Championship has been the pace-setter and role model from which other tournaments pull inspiration. It not only exceeds expectations for a disc golf tournament, but would exceed expectations for any professional sporting event. From the level of competition, to the media coverage, to player amenities, to spectator experience, the USDGC improves each season. This year, we proudly celebrated 25 years as the premier event in disc golf with the best-run tournament and biggest party Winthrop has ever seen. Read about how we grew to where we are today in our story, The USDGC Celebrates Our 25th Anniversary.

Thank You, Andy Greene 

Andy Greene has been a fixture of the USDGC for 25 years, announcing the name of every competitor to step up to Winthrop Hole One since the tournament’s beginning. If you include the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship, that’s 13,543 names with 28 Champions. This year, at the USDGC’s 25th Anniversary, Andy introduced the players for his last time. Though he can’t be replaced, we hope to fill Andy’s spot with someone else who brings a positive energy to the athletes and spectators as they head onto one of the most challenging, compelling-to-watch courses in disc golf.