Maxime Tanghe tees off at the Creeksea Classic while Blær Örn Ásgeirsson (left) and Tony Ferro (second from right) look on. Photo: PDGA Europe
If you want a succinct summary of last weekend’s Creeksea Classic in Burnham on Crouch, England, look no further than this comment from competitor Tony Ferro: “Everyone came to play this weekend, and the course conditions were perfect for it.”
Henna Blomroos, shown here during the 2019 PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships, closed out her season with a victory at the EuroTour's Nokia Open. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen
If disc golf fans know anything about Nokia, Finland, other than its connection to cell phones, it’s that it’s home to one of the most famous courses in the sport. That course, The Beast, is mostly thought of as the challenge awaiting contenders at the prestigious European Open. But last weekend The Beast roared back to life—with some slight modifications—to play host to the penultimate EuroTour event of the season: the Nokia Open.
Paige Pierce soared to her second career European Open title this weekend in Nokia, Finland. Photo: Tomi Mäkipää
NOKIA, Finland—After a perfect drive on hole 4 Sunday at The Beast, Paige Pierce found herself in difficulty: She followed up by yanking her upshot a little right, then bumped a tree and fell into circle 2 on a dangerously sloping green. Despite having a lead in the double digits, she stared down her line with intensity and then launched her putter with a slight anhyzer around a tree into the heart of the chains.
Pierce’s caddie, Tina Oakley, shook her head incredulously and smiled. “She didn’t even need that,” Oakley said. “She just wanted it.”
After three rounds, Paige Pierce has a commanding lead at the European Open. Photo: Jari Mäki-Kuutti
NOKIA, Finland—There was a moment in round three of the European Open on the Open Women’s lead card that seemed emblematic of the fates of all Paige Pierce’s competitors at the PDGA Major. Finn Henna Blomroos had laid up to just a few meters from the basket for an easy par on the 94-meter, (308-foot) par-3 6th. Her putt hit so perfectly, the gallery was already clapping.
Paige Pierce (right) assesses her lie during round two of the European Open. Photo: Tomi Mäkipää
NOKIA, Finland—Holes 4 and 5 of The Beast hit Texan Paige Pierce hard during round two of the European Open. On 4, a wooded, 155-meter par-4, her driving putter wedged in a tree in the shape of a taco. From there, the hole snowballed to a double bogey. She then three-putted on 5, causing a drive into circle 1 to quickly devolve from birdie to bogey.
Paige Pierce drove her way to the top of the leaderboard Thursday at the European Open. Photo: Tomi Mäkipää
NOKIA, Finland—Though she’s now leading the Open Women’s division after round one of the storied European Open, on Wednesday Paige Pierce was just happy to make it here for her Presidents Cup tee time.
Kevin Jones took home the win in his first European tournament. Photo: PDGA Europe
With Estonia just a hop, skip, and a ferry ride away from Finland, the seventh EuroTour event of the season, the Estonian Open, offered the perfect warm-up for this week’s PDGA Major, the European Open. And if the action in Estonia was a harbinger of what’s to come, we’re in for some exciting rounds in Nokia.
One week after withdrawing from the Ledgestone Insurance Open with a shoulder injury, Eagle McMahon hopped across the pond for a win at the Tyyni. Photo: Marika Salmi | Natural Born Disc Golfer
Going into the final round of an A-tier with just a one-stroke lead over three players and another five players lurking two behind would make most leaders edgy, to say the least. But whether it was the festive atmosphere of Europe’s largest-ever event (second-largest in the world this year with 958 registered players), his vacation mindset pre-European Open, or a mixture of both, nerves weren’t a factor for Eagle McMahon during the final round of the Tyyni.
A triumphant Jenni Eskelinen celebrates her Tynni victory. Photo: Marika Salmi | Natural Born Disc Golfer
Before play began at last weekend’s Tyyni near Helsinki, Finland, most people following European disc golf this year would have told you that their hands-down favorite to win the Open Women’s division was Estonian Kristin Tattar. Case in point: In UDisc’s Grip6 Pick6 contest, a game where you pick six players you think will be closest to the lead in their respective divisions, Tattar was picked by 70% of the almost 2,000 participants -- over 800 more than the female competitor with next-highest total.
Tony Ferro, shown here at the Bluebell Woods Open, has his sights set higher after a win at the Quarry Park Open. Photo: PDGA Europe
Established in 1994, Quarry Park is one of the oldest disc golf courses in England. A private venue owned by Derek Robins, it is a place that last weekend’s Quarry Park Open (EuroTour #5) winner Tony Ferro said “is filled with just about everything a disc golf course could have: open shots, wooded holes, elevation changes, and water hazards.”
Like the course, Ferro—a native of the U.S. who now lives in Switzerland—had everything he needed to be great on Saturday and Sunday.
974-rated Juhani Vainio was confident in his abilities, and that paid off as he emerged with a victory at Norway's Sula Open. Photo: PDGA Europe
According to PDGA Europe Tour Manager Matěj Verl, the end of the Sula Open in Langevåg, Norway, the fourth EuroTour event of the season, was “absolutely incredible.”
“I have never seen such a battle,” he said. “There could be a whole book written about what happened here.”
While we’re still working on lining up a publisher, there’s no doubt that there was more than enough action at the highly scenic and challenging Vasset DiscGolfPark, where all three rounds of Sula took place, to pique any disc golf fan’s interest.
Håkon Kveseth took down his second victory of 2019 at Denmark's Kokkedal Open. Photo: Brian Munk Jacobsen
The Kokkedal Open boasted the 2019 EuroTour season’s strongest Open field yet, with nine players rated above 1000 making starts, including Danish legend KJ Nybo. But it wasn’t Nybo—or any member of the four-digit club, for that matter—who walked away from the event with the win.
That honor went to 996-rated Norwegian Håkon Kveseth.
Kristin Tattar has played over her rating for all of 2019. Photo: Brian Munk Jacobsen
Before last weekend’s third EuroTour event, Denmark’s Kokkedal Open, Estonian Kristin Tattar had won the previous two stops on the circuit by margins of 18 and 26 strokes. The weekend before Kokkedal, she earned a victory over both Eveliina Salonen and Henna Blomroos -- the only two European women rated higher than her -- at the Prodigy Disc Pro Tour 2019 - Helsinki.
At Kokkedal, Tattar showed no signs of slowing down.
German Antonia Faber's tennis background has translated to the course. Courtesy photo
Often, athletes remember their first time playing their chosen sport as a revelation, as if it showed them that they were hardwired to love the game. But that’s not how Antonia Faber, a lefty who’s Germany’s highest rated female player and Europe’s seventh highest, described her first impression of disc golf.
When her husband dragged her out to a course in their hometown of Potsdam, Germany, in 2013, she was underwhelmed.
“I didn’t like it in the beginning,” Faber said. “It was too slow.”
Finland's Tapani Aulu is the first in a series of European players to get to know. Courtesy photo
As the disc golf community continues to grow at a rapid pace, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep up with the people making names for themselves worldwide. Part of this is because the majority of media output focuses on players who live in North America or often make the trip there.
Eveliina Salonen won her first PDGA Major in 2018 at the Konopiště Open. Photo: Eino Ansio
The Las Vegas Challenge and Memorial Championship are the first Elite Series tournaments of the 2019 season, and 952-rated Finn Eveliina Salonen will hop across the pond to compete in both. If you don’t know why you should be excited by that, here are a few of the accomplishments the 19-year-old added to her resume in 2018: