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Pushing Boundaries – 2023 Kansas City Wide Open Recap

By Nick Quargnenti
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Article written by: Nick Quargnenti – DGPT Marketing Coordinator

Ali Smith and Gannon Buhr at Bad Rock Creek in Liberty, MO Photo: Gage Hamilton / DGPT

 

Fans and spectators were mesmerized by the formidable and recently developed landscape at Liberty, MO’s Bad Rock Creek Disc Golf Course during this weekend’s GRIPeq 41st Kansas City Wide Open, presented by Dynamic Discs. The event unveiled a range of challenging shot shapes that demanded true grit and determination. To no surprise, the field persevered and put together some unforgettable performances.

While fresh talents graced the lead cards this weekend, it was Ali Smith (PDGA# 147050), a hometown hero from Kansas City, and the one and only Gannon Buhr (PDGA# 75412) who emerged victorious as the Silver Event champions.

Homegrown Hero: KC Native Ali Smith Secures First Tour Win!

With her first Tour victory at the Kansas City Wide Open, Ali Smith made her presence known from the very beginning, securing a score of 3 under par after the first round. Smith’s hot start ended up being one-stroke shy from the hot round of the tournament this weekend, set by Holyn Handley with a score of 4 under par in the final round.

Ali Smith Celebrates her Victory in Liberty, MO Photo: Gage Hamilton / DGPT

Following a remarkable first round, Smith secured her spot on the FPO lead card alongside Hanna Huynh for the duration of the event. UDisc data reveals that the talented 2021 Amateur World Champion dominated the FPO division in strokes gained from putting. With an impressive 70% fairway hit rate and a remarkable 30% birdie rate, Smith’s unwavering consistency made her a formidable contender that was hard to surpass.

Dangerously hot on Smith’s tail throughout the weekend was Holyn Handley (PDGA# 133547) and Hanna Huynh (PDGA# 112647). Ultimately, Handley and Huynh finished the tournament tied at 1 over par, claiming a shared spot on the podium for 2nd place. Remarkably, both Handley and Huynh led the field in fairway hits percentage, boasting an impressive 77% accuracy, as reported by UDisc.

Hanna Huynh and Holyn Handley at the KCWO in Liberty, MO Photo: Gage Hamilton / DGPT

An intriguing observation to note from the event is Handley’s consistent positioning for potential birdies. Impressively, Handley dominated in both circle 1 in regulation (39%) and circle 2 in regulation (61%) stats, surpassing all competitors in effectively setting herself up for birdie opportunities.

Following an emotionally charged victory, Ali Smith revealed that she had made the bold choice to leave her teaching career in pursuit of becoming a professional disc golfer. Her triumphant win on home turf serves as a resounding affirmation that Smith’s decision was indeed the correct one.

Gannon Buhr’s Stellar Season Continues: KCWO Win Marks Third Triumph!

The MPO division of the event showcased a remarkable display of young talent. Following a captivating and highly competitive battle that kept victory within the grasp of any contender, Gannon Buhr emerged as the frontrunner, carrying the momentum and securing a 2-stroke lead at the thrilling conclusion of the tournament.

Gannon Buhr Celebrate Victory at the KCWO in Liberty, MO Photo: Gage Hamilton / DGPT

Continuing his momentum from a top-10 finish at The Preserve Championship, the continuously-rising star hailing from Urbandale, Iowa, delivered a stellar performance clinching his third win of the season. This impressive achievement solidified his position as the frontrunner for the most DGPT wins this season (4). StatMando reveals an interesting fact that since Buhr’s initial triumph at a Silver Event in Santa Cruz last year, no other MPO player has secured victory at a Silver Event more than once, further highlighting Buhr’s dominance.

Leading the field in birdie percentage with an exceptional 59%, Buhr also demonstrated his prowess in circle 2 putting, boasting an impressive rate of 67%, culminating in a remarkable final score of 28-under par. Notably, he shared the top spot in parked percentage (22%) with the promising Joseph Anderson, solidifying his resilience on the course.

Joseph Anderson at the KCWO in Liberty, MO Photo: Gage Hamilton / DGPT

This tournament firmly establishes Joseph Anderson (PDGA# 122356) as a name worth remembering. Originating from Athens, Georgia, the budding star delivered an outstanding performance by shooting the hot round of the tournament in the opening round, finishing at an impressive 13-under par. With an impressive rating of 1081, this remarkable round propelled Anderson to a commanding 4-stroke lead, securing him the coveted solo 1st place position heading into Round 2.

In a bittersweet outcome, Anderson’s extraordinary performance fell just short of ultimate victory. Despite leading the MPO field with an astonishing 86% fairway hit percentage throughout the tournament, he ultimately secured a solo-2nd place finish at an impressive 26-under par. This was Anderson’s second DGPT-points event of the year, following a 32nd place finish at the 2023 PDGA Champions Cup.

Jake Hebenheimer at the KCWO in Liberty, MO Photo: Gage Hamilton / DGPT

Another notable name for those who followed the 2022 Dynamic Discs Open is Jake Hebenheimer (PDGA# 43762). Hailing from Jefferson City, Missouri, the local star displayed a remarkable performance, ultimately securing a well-deserved solo-3rd place finish. Hebenheimer’s unwavering determination and thrilling play kept spectators on the edge of their seats until the very last moment of the tournament.

As the final round reached its climax at Bad Rock Creek, Hebenheimer faced a make-or-break moment on hole 18, requiring an eagle to keep his playoff hopes alive against Buhr. With precision and power, Hebenheimer launched a bombing drive, showcasing one of the most impressive shots witnessed throughout the weekend.

Meanwhile, Buhr faced a daunting challenge with his drive landing amidst a formidable cluster of trees. Despite the odds, Buhr executed an incredible upshot, intensifying the pressure on Hebenheimer to deliver a strong finish. Unfortunately, Hebenheimer’s upshot fell agonizingly short of the fairway by just a few feet, ending his bid for a playoff.

Hats off to Hebenheimer and Anderson for delivering standout performances that rank among their best of the season (so far). And let’s not forget Buhr, whose ambitions soar higher than even the most challenging courses.

Exciting news awaits as the Disc Golf Pro Tour ventures across the Atlantic! The Tour will resume on July 13-15 at the prestigious PCS Open in Vestnes, Norway. This year marks a significant milestone for disc golf as the PCS Open takes its inaugural step as the first DGPT Elite Event to be held outside of the U.S. (last year the PCS Open was considered a Silver Event). This exciting development not only promises a thrilling display of competition but also signifies a new chapter in disc golf’s global journey.

PCS OPEN 2023

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