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Major Breakthrough – 2023 European Open Final Round MPO Recap

By Michelle Springett
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2023 European Open — Final MPO Recap

Monday, July 24, 2023 – 17:19
2023 European Open Final Round MPO Recap

It came down to finish line in Finland.

While the FPO field had a clear frontrunner by the end of day two, the MPO division saw a new leader after each round at the 2023 European Open, the second PDGA Pro Major of the year.

Kyle Klein led after the opening round, then Anthony Barela in round 2, then Calvin Heimburg in round 3 with Corey Ellis joining them on the lead card going into the final round. All four players were looking for their first Major title at an event that had never been won by a player without a previous Major win.

By Hole 16, Anthony Barela had fought back into the lead at 32-under and was lining up his approach shot into the intimidating island green. Hole 16 is an island hole with the BUNCR rule. Essentially, if a disc crosses out of bounds but does not come to rest on the island, the player doesn’t take a penalty stroke but must rethrow from their previous lie. This hole has caused drama in the past as players coming down the final stretch have to choose between laying up or risking having to attempt the same shot multiple times.

Unfortunately, Barela threw multiple approach shots that went long, taking six shots overall to finally stick the island green. Ellis, who was only one stroke back of the lead, was up next after Barela and decided to go for the green despite choosing to lay up in each previous round.

“I told myself I’ve thrown this shot a million times. There’s nothing different besides some hay bales there, so just execute your shot,” Ellis said of his choice to take a risky approach for the birdie.

Ellis landed the island green and took the lead while Barela took a quadruple bogey. After narrowly avoiding the OB on Hole 17, Ellis had a two-stroke lead over Klein going into the final hole. Knowing that any mistake could give Klein a chance to catch up and force a playoff, Ellis chose to play it safe. Ellis executed his gameplan to perfection, laying up a jump putt to the bottom of the basket to give himself a tap-in for the win.

With one last par, Ellis finished his third bogey-free round in a row. Ellis played clean and consistent throughout the weekend, only going out of bounds twice in four rounds.

“I knew it was going to take staying clean,” Ellis said after playing 55 holes in a row without a bogey, “Three bogey-free rounds in a row, that’s what it takes to win by one.”

Major Breakthrough 2023 European Open — Final MPO Recap

Photo: Marika Salmi – DGPT

With his one-stroke victory over Kyle Klein, Ellis is now the third MPO player in the last 10 years to win a Major without any previous Elite Series or Major wins. Ellis has been close in the past, just last year losing to Simon Lizotte by one stroke at the 2022 MVP Open at Maple Hill and losing the 2022 Discraft Great Lakes Open in a playoff against Calvin Heimburg.

With Ellis’ win at the 2023 European Open, Isaac Robinson’s win at the 2023 Champions Cup, and Gannon Buhr’s win at the 2022 US Disc Golf Championships, this is also the third Major in a row with an MPO Champion who had not previously won a Major title.

Major Breakthrough 2023 European Open — Final MPO RecapMajor Breakthrough 2023 European Open — Final MPO Recap

Photo: Marika Salmi – DGPT

After years of touring and coming incredibly close multiple times, Ellis finally had his moment as he dropped in the final putt of the 2023 European Open and hoisted the trophy in front of a crowd of thousands.

“I finally did it. It’s been a battle. It always is and it’s always going to be to win one of these.”

2023 European Open Final Round MPO Recap

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