February 23, 2024

W.A.C.O. Preview and Predictions

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Here we are at the second stop on the Disc Golf Pro Tour 2022. It’s time to start the Texas swing of the tour with the Waco Annual Charity Open: W.A.C.O. Players will be playing the Beast in Waco and from all accounts on the ground and online the course does not have any significant changes from 2021. The Beast manages to combine tight woods golf with open holes and shots.

The course plays along the Brazos River in Waco, Texas. The course starts with three semi-open but technical shots along the river. Players move into some tight wooded holes, giving us a nice preview of Texas States in a few weeks. They play tight technical shots for holes four through thirteen. Players come back out of the woods playing relatively open holes for fourteen through eighteen. Hole eighteen has a long water carry. The hole itself is 461 feet downhill with a water hazard long of the basket and a green sloping back to the water they just carried. Players with the big arms and accuracy can make the carry no problem. However, the wind on the course is brutal and you see player often layup short then throw perpendicular to the water rather than try to carry the diagonal of the pond.

You can check out the UDisc map here.

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n Hole 17 at The Beast
Hole 17 at the Beast
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The Weather Factor

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One factor that the Disc Golf Pro Tour and Tournament Director Ryan Draper wish they could control is the weather. The weather for the final practice round is a gorgeous 72 degrees with winds at 10-15mph, this will be the last favorable day until the final round on Sunday. Waco is expecting highs on Friday around 45 degrees with sustained winds of 20-30mph gusting even higher. Adding insult to injury there is a 50% chance of rain. Saturday is looking better at 57 and sunny with the winds calming to 5-10mph. The final day  is predicted to be a beautiful 65 and sunny with the winds picking up 15-25mph.

The players will have their hands full as the navigate The Beast this weekend. Given the weather forecast for the start of the tournament combined with the overall technical nature of the course, I’d expect to see score higher than normal, specifically on the first day.  Those who can keep their hands warm and discs dry will have a better opportunity for success. Especially on the FPO side where early tee times mean subfreezing temperatures without the windchill.

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MPO Tournament History

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This tournament is no strange to dramatic finishes. In 2021, Nikko Locastro managed a 77 foot throw in on hole 17 in the final round. Sounds impressive but wait there’s more! Hole 17 is a 633-foot hole with a dogleg right about 200 to the basket and another 30ish feet to the water. A very nerve-racking putt from circle 1 let along 77 feet away. Locastro entered the day with a one stroke lead over Cale Leiviska. Locastro started out hot going seven for seven to start the final round. As Locastro cooled off Leiviska caught fire pulling things back to within one stroke. Within a perfect drive on 17 Leiviska was in the perfect spot to put pressure on Locastro who’s drive barely skipped back in bounds. Locastro threw in a perfect 77 foot shot to keep his one stroke lead. On 18 Leiviska had to run a 100-foot shot to force a playoff but could not connect. Nikko Locastro won W.A.C.O. by three strokes. Cale Leiviska finished in second place. And rounding out the podium was Bradley Williams in third.

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MPO Predictions

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On the MPO side of W.A.C.O., it’s really anyone’s game. This course tests all aspects of anyone’s game without factoring in the weather. Just over the last few years we’ve seen Nikko Locastro (’21), Colten Montgomery (‘20*), McBeth (’19), and Jeremy Koling (’18) as winners. There are a wide variety of play styles that have won. Locastros with his flex lines, Montgomery with hyzer lines, McBeth with straight shots, and Koling as a forehand specialist. This course is all about hitting lines, managing the wind, and staying inbounds.

Given the way the weather is supposed to be and the wide variety of past winners, I expect these picks to be as good as my SkipAce finish after Las Vegas Challenge. With all those factors in play here is the Joe’s Disc Golf predictions on the top three MPO finisher at the 2022 Waco Charity Open.

In third place I expect to see Kyle Klein. He has great power and can hit lines. Michigan golf is no joke in the woods. he’s coming of a less than stellar round one performance at Las Vegas Challenge. He managed to turn it around after that, but the damage was done. If he can get off to a clean start in poor weather conditions, be hard to catch.

In second place I expect to see Chris Dickerson. The first time he played The Beast in 2021, he managed a seventh-place finish. This is the second time Dickerson is playing the tournament and with that comes some much needed experience. Dickerson is a great woods golfer. He can hit any line he needs to find success. He finished twelfth at Las Vegas Challenge; not too surprising given he isn’t known for huge distance. He looked really good with the new Discraft plastic in his hands. His calm, steady demeanor is going to be tested as the weather plays with mental and physical game. I believe he has the skills to secure a second-place finish on a difficult course.

In first place I expect to see Paul McBeth. McBeth skipped Las Vegas Challenge and missed all the fireworks of the thrilling playoff. There were a lot of questions going into The Memorial between Drew Gibson and Paul McBeth. Round one, McBeth answered those questions by going sixteen under par and dominating Gibson. McBeth wants to go out and show the rest of the Pro Tour field and any doubters that he’s still the guy to beat.

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FPO Tournament History

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Things were not as dramatic on the FPO side of W.A.C.O. Kona Panis was in first place from the word go. She finished round 1 three strokes ahead of Paige Pierce and Valerie Mandujano. Round 2 Paige pierce exploded, shooting 15 strokes worse than round one while Panis shot another six under par. In the final round Kona Panis played it a little safer shooting a four under par to finish at a total score of sixteen under par. In second place was Ohn Scoggins shooting a four under par overall and the hot round of eight under par. Finishing just behind Scoggins was Sarah Hokom shooting a three under on the tournament.

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FPO Predictions

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Looking at the FPO side of the tournament, we see the same wide variety of styles from our previous champions. Kona Panis (’21), Eveliina Salonen (’20*), Catrina Allen (’19), and Paige Pierce (’18) have all won the Waco Area Charity Open. Given the way the weather is supposed to be and the wide variety of past winners, I expect these picks to be as good as my SkipAce finish after Las Vegas Challenge. With all those factors in play here is the Joe’s Disc Golf predictions on the top three FPO finisher at the 2022 Waco Charity Open.

In third place I have Paige Pierce. She took down the event in 2018 but since then her finishes are best described as a rollercoaster. With finishes in, chronological order, first, third, thirteenth, and fifth. I expect Pierce to play well, however given her past finishes, the crazy weather, and the added depth of the FPO field I don’t foresee her placing higher than third.

In second place I have Catrina Allen. She won this tournament in 2019 and is coming off a great victory over Paige Pierce at Las Vegas Challenge. If she can cobble together a performance like LVC she’ll have no problem beating almost the entire field. Allen’s finishes at this tournament are a little more consistent with her lowest finish being seventh place.

Taking it down on the women’s side, I have Kristin Tattar. She had a rocky start to her season at Las Vegas Challenge but managed to finish in third place. Her performance was at The Memorial was a little sporadic. She managed a high birdie percentage and a shockingly high bogey or worse percentage. If she can keep her card mostly clean at W.A.C.O., it’ll be hers to lose.

Those are the Joe’s Disc Golf picks for the Waco Annual Charity Open 2022. What do you think will happen? Given the history of this tournament, it’s more likely than not going to be a player we aren’t expecting. Coverage starts with the FPO feature card (Kona Panis, Heather Young, Paige Pierce, Eveliina Salonen) on Friday at 10AM EST. The MPO feature card (Nikko Locastro, Gannon Buhr, Simon Lizotte, Paul McBeth) coverage will start at 3:30PM EST on Disc Golf Network.

*In 2020 the tournament ended after round 2 because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

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