The 2019 Memorial Championship presented by Discraft is the first stop of the Disc Golf Pro Tour. Players from all over the world travel to Arizona every year to enjoy the warm sun and play the unique courses of Fountain Hills and Vista Del Camino. This time last year Simon Lizotte and Paige Pierce took down the championship. Simon went neck and neck with his Discmania teammate Eagle McMahon but inevitably won by 3 strokes while Paige had a much easier victory last year winning by 11 strokes over Lisa Fajkus.
FPO ROUND ONE & TWO
For the women, the first round was about jockeying for position. At the end of the first day 6 women were tied for first place: Maria Oliva, Jennifer Allen, Jessica Weese, Zoe Andyke, Missy Gannon, and Eveliina Salonen. What did all of the initial leaders have in common? They managed to keep their out-of-bounds numbers low.
One highlight was Maria Oliva (E) with one of the cleanest scorecards within the field. We are possibly witnessing the breakout tournament for this 21 year old player from Texas. In the first 18 holes she carded 1 birdie and 1 bogey. I asked her what part of her game she trusted most:
Zoe Andyke (E) took the early lead the first round and played solid disc golf, with the exception of 3 late-round bogeys. But she got it done with a 75% Circle 1X rate and a Scramble rate of 70%. Eveliina Salonen (E) may not have had the best first round, but she kept herself within the pack by parking 11% of the time (2nd in the field). Unfortunately, it was her 2 out-of-bounds that kept her from taking the outright lead.
If day one was about leaders congregating at the top, day two was all about making some moves. Paige Pierce (-3) did what she does best. She moved up 6 spots with the help of 8 birdies. Although she went O.B. three times, her Circle 2 putting was a remarkable 50% 2 out 4 attempts with one being a 60 foot putt. Jessica Weese (E) continued her good play to lock down second place after round two, but her day was more about missed opportunities. What kept her from holding the lead or taking it back from Paige Pierce was a combination of a low Circle 1X rate of 60% (12th overall) and Circle 2 putts at 0% or 0 out of 7 attempts. Eveliina Salonen (E) could have had both a better score and a worse score. Her highlights of day 2 included a Scramble rate of 50% and she amazingly saved par 8 times during the round.
MPO ROUND ONE & TWO
Day one of the Memorial for the men was more like watching someone play a game of darts opposed to disc golf. The UDisc leaderboard showed an ocean of blue as the pros collected one birdie after another. Simon Lizotte (-16), the defending Memorial Champion, knows how to play the Fountain Hills course and showed it day one with a 1110 rated round. He carded 16 birdies and the rest were pars. With 100% Scramble rate (1st among the field), 100% In Regulation, 100% Circle 1X putts, and 50% Circle 2 putts, 2 out of 4, including a 49 foot putt to make a birdie on hole 10. Eagle McMahon (-15) had a 1101 rated round with 15 birdies and no bogeys to keep pace with Simon Lizotte. He had a 100% Scramble rate, 100% Circle 1X rate, and had 1 lone O.B. but still found a way to save it with a par.
Ricky Wysocki (-12) had a great first day with 13 birdies and 1 lone bogey. He got it down by his fairway hits of 94% (4th among the field), 100% Scramble rate (1st among the field).
After the second round, many players were unable to keep pace with Simon and Eagle as they continued their onslaught of the Fountain Hills course. Simon shot another blazing hot round of (-14) and seemed to be in complete control of his game as well as the leaderboard. Parking 5 holes and staying away from the dreaded O.B. made it tough for the field to catch him. One player who made a great attempt to overtake Simon was Eagle McMahon who carded a (-13) with 1 lone bogey and that was the difference in their round score. A great surprise during round two was the emergence of Sias Elmore. Sias is an MVP sponsored player who shot (-14) to jump onto the day three lead card. One factor in his success was his Circle 1X rate of 70% or 7 out of 10.
FPO ROUND THREE & FOUR
During round three, Paige Pierce showed her perseverance as she took what the course gave her, but unfortunately carded a bit of everything with 7 birdies, 3 bogeys, 1 double bogey, 1 quadruple bogey, and the rest pars. Eveliina Salonen never really made any moves round three and was content to keep pace with Paige Pierce.
📸 Marking @Markingofdg
The real drama of the round came at the difficult 18th hole at Vista Del Camino. Paige opted to use her distance to her advantage and went for the green. She of course has the distance, but overshot the hole and landing out-of-bounds. Paige drove once again, and once again went out-of-bounds giving her a 7 for the hole and handing the outright lead to Eveliina.
Rebecca Cox made it onto the lead card for the final day and had a fairly clean card with 4 birdies, 2 bogeys and a total of 12 pars. Unfortunately, Rebecca was never really able to put together a round to fight for the lead. Catrina Allen has played solid disc golf all year and by the time the fourth round came and went, she was able to shoot (-4) and tie Rebecca Cox for 4th place.
The final round saw Jessica Weese carding far too many pars to be in serious contention. She had a few bad breaks, and in one instance she hit a camera person to go O.B. which is unfortunate considering she was second overall in fairway hits with 63%.
Paige Pierce had many opportunities to tie Eveliina or even take back the lead but she seemed to make some mental errors that cost her strokes as well as momentum down the stretch. If you had to point to one area of Paige’s game that let her down at the Memorial it was her Circle 1X putting rate of 60% or 26 of 43 attempts ranked 22nd among the field.
Eveliina Salonen is a young Finnish player that hasn’t spent much time in the U.S. but never seemed to doubt her game the entirety of the final round. Her long bombs and steady putts gave the fans the sense that she has been playing and winning far longer than her age.
Eveliina shot a phenomenal (-8) and shredded the Vista Del Camino course with an unofficial round rating of 1015. She scored 9 birdies total with 1 lone bogey on the second hole and the rest pars. For someone so young, she never played out of her comfort zone and never pushed herself away from her game plan.
Eveliina’s UDisc Statistics
I asked Eveliina how she felt winning this one and becoming the first female Finnish player to take down a top tier tournament in the United States. “It feels unbelievable.” But what part of her game was clicking? “I think it was everything.” But how did she feel about playing against the number one ranked disc golfer in the world, Paige Pierce? “I love playing with Paige. It’s always lots of fun.”
Catrina Allen (+1) 4th place, Rebecca Cox (+1) 4th Place, Jessica Weese (-3) 3rd place, Paige Pierce (-6) 2nd place, and Eveliina Salonen (-10) 1st place.
Congratulations to Eveliina Salonen
Winner of the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s 2019 Memorial Championship presented by Discraft.
MPO ROUND THREE & FOUR
The third round showed for the first time in the event that Simon wasn’t infallible. He started out the first two holes in his usual fashion, but strung together three straight pars, followed-up by a costly bogey. By the time the 3rd round was completed, Simon shot a (-8). Although the score was impressive, Eagle McMahon shot low himself (-13) with the help of 13 birdies and no bogeys. Eagle’s clean scorecard was enough to finally overtake Simon and become the sole leader going into the final round.
The final round saw Paul McBeth make some strong moves of his own carding an (-11) for the round but in the end there was too much stroke separation for the 4X World Champion to make up the ground. Ricky Wysocki was in the same boat as they both ended their tournaments tied with (-42) in 4th place.
One of the pleasant surprises in the MPO field this year was Jalle Stoor. This talented Finnish player showed that he truly belonged on the lead card among the strongest players in the world. His smooth drives and clutch putting helped him climb to 3rd place with (-43) for the event.
Another highlight of the event was Scott Withers. Coming off a strong finish at the Las Vegas Challenge (10th), and put together some extremely strong rounds to take 7th place just behind JohnE McCray.
Throughout the entire event the focus of the drama rested on the battle between teammates Eagle McMahon and Simon Lizotte. Unfortunately for Simon, his round got a little worse with each day and the final round was by far his worst of the event. His Scramble rate fell to 50% and his Circle 1X rate went from 100% the first two days to a meager 75% the last day.
The first two rounds saw Simon set the pace and Eagle following, but by the final round Eagle became the pacesetter. Eagle McMahon hit an 88% Circle 1X rate and even though he threw O.B. four times, he managed to save par every single time.
Eagle’s UDisc Statistics
If there was one statistic that might have given Eagle the victory over Simon, it was his 100% Scramble rate for all four rounds. He was a perfect 11 out of 11 holes he attempted to scramble. Eagle McMahon finished the tournament with a (-49) 4 strokes ahead of Simon Lizotte, and 6 Strokes ahead of Jalle Stoor.
Paul McBeth (-42) 4th place, Ricky Wysocki (-42) 4th place, Jalle Stoor (-43) 3rd place, Simon Lizotte (-45) 2nd place, and Eagle McMahon (-49) 1st place.
Congratulations to Eagle McMahon
Winner of the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s 2019 Memorial Championship presented by Discraft.