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PDGA Directors Poll: End Of 2018 Season


2018 World Champion Paige Bjerkaas (left) and Rebecca Cox help comprise a new set of up-and-comers who have injected young blood into the touring field. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

The 2018 disc golf season didn’t represent a changing of the guard for the elite level of the sport. If anything, there are just more sentries in line for duty.

Take a look at the final Directors Poll of the year: In both the Open and Open Women’s field, the superstars of this era retained their stronghold on the top slots, as Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, and Paige Pierce could rarely be toppled this season. Even the tournaments where they slipped were never enough for our poll respondents to diminish their standings, as their long-term success took precedence with each new survey.

And yet, look at all the new blood making up the touring scene. Nearly a third of the season-ending Open field was not ranked on our Preseason Directors Poll, and that number swelled to half on the Open Women’s side. While some of that can be chalked up to regional leanings – Matt Orum has been a Southern force for nearly a decade but hasn’t toured extensively in recent years – not all of it can. Kevin Jones, Drew Gibson, Rebecca Cox, and PDGA World Champion Paige Bjerkaas are all 22 years old; Calvin Heimburg is 23. An ever-growing crop of European players who are choosing to tour in the United States delivered us the talents of Seppo Paju and Kristin Tattar, while Eveliina Salonen didn’t finish worse than second place all across 13 events.   

Combined with the seasoned veterans who comprise the rest of the lists, it shows that professional disc golf is alive and well. Other observations from 2018’s final poll:

  • Eagle McMahon may have to do some work in the World Rankings, where his 38th place showing at Pro Worlds served as the lead to his otherwise ascendant balloon. But he outperformed our directors’ preseason expectations in a major way and showed he is a weekly contender no matter the field.
  • Winning a world title is one way to cement your status in the standings. Gregg Barsby finished the season all the way up in fifth place after beginning in 15th, while Bjerkaas went from an unlisted number to the top of the charts.
  • Some pretty remarkable consistency on the women’s side, where five of the top six players didn’t budge from their preseason rankings.
  • A bit surprising to see Sarah Hokom retain the third place spot despite her victory at the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship. She's currently the second highest-rated women's player in the world.
  • Names to keep an eye on at the beginning of 2019 depending on their touring plans: Nate Doss, Philo BratwaiteCale Leiviska, Jeremy Koling, Austin Turner, Devan Owens, Valarie Jenkins, Jennifer Allen, Melody Waibel, Hannah Leatherman, and Zoe Andyke. Those 11 competitors were ranked on the preseason poll, but due to either lack of attendance or performance slipped outside the lines.

The poll returns in 2019, but likely in a slightly different format so we can take the pulse of even more disc golf fans and followers. Until then, a heartfelt thank you to our directors for their participation! Get some rest, everyone: The season isn’t that far away.

Open

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Much as he did in the PDGA World Rankings, James Conrad finished the year by climbing high into the standings. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

Rank Player PDGA # Previous Change Preseason 2018 Change
1 Paul McBeth 27523 1 -- 2 ↑ 1
2 Ricky Wysocki 38008 2 -- 1 ↓ 1
3 James Conrad 17295 4 ↑ 1 7 ↑ 3
4 Eagle McMahon 37817 3 ↓ 1 12 ↑ 8
5 Gregg Barsby 15857 6 ↑ 1 15 ↑ 10
6 Chris Dickerson 62647 9 ↑ 3 10 ↑ 4
7 Nate Sexton 18824 5 ↓ 2 3 ↓ 4
8 Kevin Jones 41760 12 ↑ 4 NR --
9 Paul Ulibarri 27171 8 ↓ 1 8 ↓ 1
10 Simon Lizotte 8332 7 ↓ 3 4 ↓ 6
11 Seppo Paju 36744 10 ↓ 1 NR --
12 Josh Anthon 17946 11 ↓ 1 11 ↓ 1
13 Garrett Gurthie 13864 14 ↑ 1 NR --
14 Michael Johansen 20300 15 ↑ 1 14 --
15 Drew Gibson 48346 13 ↓ 2 NR --
16 Matt Orum 18330 16 -- NR --
17 Calvin Heimburg 45971 18 ↑ 1 NR --
18 Zach Melton 38361 17 ↓ 1 19 ↑ 1
19 Nikko Locastro 11534 New -- 16 ↓ 3
20 JohnE McCray 9852 New -- 18 ↓ 2

Open Women

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Sarah Hokom emerged with the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship title, but it wasn't enough to give her the number two slot in the poll. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

Rank Player PDGA # Previous Change Preseason 2018 Change
1 Paige Pierce 29190 1 -- 1 --
2 Paige Bjerkaas 33833 2 -- NR --
3 Sarah Hokom 34563 3 -- 3 --
4 Catrina Allen 44184 4 -- 2 ↓ 2
5 Jessica Weese 50656 5 -- 5 --
6 Lisa Fajkus 32654 6 -- 6 --
7 Rebecca Cox 32917 7 -- NR --
8 Kristin Tattar 73986 9 ↑ 1 NR --
9 Madison Walker 59431 8 ↓ 1 NR --
10 Eveliina Salonen 64927 10 -- NR --

Comments

Would like to see 20 positions for the female competitors like the 20 positions for men. Would further encourage female participation.

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