February 23, 2024

OTB Open Recap: Emerson Keith and Paige Pierce Triumph

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In a riveting series of games, the 2023 OTB Open held in Stockton, California, culminated in some surprising and inspiring victories. Emerson Keith, a seasoned player steadily climbing the ranks, secured his first career Elite/Major win at the tournament, marking his 75th MPO win. Keith’s victory was poignant as it coincided almost seven years to the day of his first career PDGA cash win, a testament to his growth and endurance in the sport.

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Keith Gets First Elite Win

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Keith’s performance was nothing short of commendable. He birdied half of the holes, had the second-best out-of-bounds rate, and averaged an impressive 1051 event rating. This feat is no small accomplishment, considering the level of competition and the pressure of playing at such a high-profile event.

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Emerson Keith holding OTB Open Trophy
Photo courtesy of PDGA
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Rare Lead Card

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An exciting departure from the norm was the composition of the final round lead card, which featured no Top 10 ranked players. Instead, it was a lineup that included Gossage (15th), Redalen (30th), Keith (31st), and Semerad (59th). This situation was only the second in DGPT Elite MPO history, the first at the 2016 Vibram Open, a classic event known for its intense competition.

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The 2016 Vibram Open lead card was a precursor to this unusual scenario, also having no Top 10 ranked players, but all four competitors were in the Top 30. However, the OTB Open final round lead card was a first in DGPT history, with no previous Elite/Major wins amongst its members. This shift indicates the dynamic nature of disc golf and the rising talent pushing the game’s boundaries.

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Pierce Make a Statement

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Over in the FPO category, Paige Pierce shone brightly, marking her third consecutive OTB Open win. This victory is her second Elite Series win of the season and her 34th all-time. Pierce has been a consistent force in the sport, continually pushing herself and her competitors to new heights.

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Pierce’s performance was statistically remarkable. She was second in strokes gained tee to green and fifth in strokes gained putting, with an average event rating of 1004. She set an impressive record, securing ten straight birdies, the longest birdie streak (2021-present) in a Major, Elite, or Silver round. Her 12-under score tied the record over the same period, further cementing her status as a player of exceptional skill.

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The OTB Open kicked off with a bang. Round 1 saw Isaac Robinson take the solo lead with a -10, earning him the day’s hot round. This feat marked Robinson’s third hot round within the last three tour stops, an achievement unparalleled by any other MPO player. His performance set the tone for the rest of the tournament, showing that the competition would be fierce.

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Chandler Kramer also made headlines with a stellar performance, shooting a -9 bogey-free round. This achievement earned him his first DGPT Elite lead card appearance, a significant milestone in any player’s career. Kramer’s last lead card at an Elite or Major event was at the 2022 European Open, and this return to the lead card at the OTB Open demonstrates his consistency and commitment to the sport.

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An interesting twist in the first round was the four-way tie for the lead, the most players tied for the lead after any FPO Major or Elite round since the 2019 Memorial. This tie highlighted the level of competition at the OTB Open, with so many players delivering high-level performances.

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OTB Open Course was Long But Shorter than the 2022

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The OTB Open course itself deserves mention. Known for its length of 9,113′, it is the longest FPO course on tour in the 2023 calendar year. Its size and layout present a unique challenge to players, requiring strategic thinking and precise execution. Unfortunately, the 2022 OTB Open had been even longer at 9,678’—a whopping 565 feet longer than this year’s layout. This change, however, did not diminish the thrill and challenge of the game but added a different dimension to the competition.

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The final day of the OTB Open was nothing short of exhilarating. Gossage led the MPO with 10.99 strokes gained tee to green, a significant achievement given the tournament’s high stakes. Despite this, no player on the card had previously won an Elite Series event, making the competition even more intense. This dynamic underscored the diverse talent pool in the sport and the potential for new victors to emerge at any time.

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Photo courtesy of PDGA
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In the FPO category, Paige Pierce’s performance was spectacular. Her course record of 12-under moved her into solo first place, again showing why she’s considered one of the best in the game. In addition, she carded ten birdies in a row for an unofficial 1033-rated round, her highest-rated Elite Series round since 2020, and her best at this event. Pierce’s outstanding performance underlines her exceptional skill, consistency, and resilience.

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The 2023 OTB Open was a tournament that will be known for its firsts and record-breaking performances. The victories of Emerson Keith and Paige Pierce not only marked personal triumphs but also signified disc golf’s continually evolving and competitive nature. Their wins have set the bar high for future DGPT events and serve as an inspiration to both their peers and upcoming players in the sport.

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The OTB Open has once again proven that disc golf is an exciting, dynamic sport where any player, regardless of their ranking, has the potential to make their mark. As we look forward to future tournaments, one thing is clear: the spirit of competition, the love for the game, and the drive to push limits will continue to inspire players and fans alike.

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