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Discraft’s Portland Open: FPO Preview – Portland Is Our Portal To The Past

By Baker Helton
​Paige Pierce may still be the highest rated player in the Open Women division, but Catrina Allen is on an absolute tear. Her play at the last few events may even be enough to close the ratings gap between these two, but we’ll just have to wait and see. That’s interesting and all but how do you write a preview about a new event on the tour? Well, we’ll take a look at the top players’ seasons and take a trip back in time to the 2014 PDGA Worlds. There are currently 20 women signed up for the event and all of the names you’d expect to be there are on that list. And if you compare the 2019 Pro Tour Standings Top Ten to the Registration for the Portland Open you’ll see that everyone except Paige Bjerkaas will be in attendance.
​With four events in the books and six to go, Discraft’s Portland Open will round out the figurative front nine of our season. As it is on the course, taking a look at the scorecard halfway through is a helpful habit. It’ll come as no surprise to any well-informed fan that Catrina Allen and Paige Pierce are the current owners of the #1 and #2 spots respectively. What’s a little surprising to me is just how far ahead they are compared to the rest of the field. Paige Bjerkaas, currently in third should, ostensibly, have the best chance at catching the two experienced phenoms but she’s actually almost a full 100 points behind Catrina. That’s not an easy deficit to overcome, it’s like being down by 9 with 9 to go. Sure, it’s possible , but when you’re trailing by as many as you have left to play, it doesn’t matter how well you play, your competition is going to have to make some mistakes.

Catrina Allen and Paige Pierce didn’t make it to their legendary statuses without a few mistakes along the way. Sure Catrina stumbled behind Paige for a season or two. And yes, you could say Paige has struggled to find her stride in 2019. But it’s all relative and that’s what the leaderboard shows us. But 84.5 Tour Points behind Paige there is staunch competition for third. As of right now, Paige Bjerkaas, Rebecca Cox, Sarah Hokom, and Jessica Weese are all within 15 Tour Points of one another. Now that’s more like being separated by one on the last hole, this could totally happen. You can rest assured it will. Don’t be surprised to see a rearrangement of those four after this next event. If only because she will be missing this one, while the other three will all be gaining so long as they finish the event, Bjerkaas will likely fall temporarily behind….to another close collection.

While the six players I’ve mentioned already have played all four events, the four player’s rounding out the top 10 (with the exception of Kona Star Panis) have only played three. Madison Walker, Vanessa Van Dyken, Kona Star Panis, and Callie McMorran are all within 20 of one another and a firm reminder to the battle for third ahead that the only thing separating them is one event. And that’s totally fine, a player’s Pro Tour standing at the end of the season doesn’t expect players to play all 10, and if they do they get to drop some of their worse showings, two to be precise. So while catching the likes of Allen and Pierce is unlikely without them slipping, that tangle for third will look a bit messier the closer we get to the end of the season.

But enough about the season already, what’s going to happen this weekend? Well, honestly, I don’t know. In fact, I have very little to go on except how their seasons are going. The last time we have any recorded rounds from a touring pro field at Blue Lake Disc Golf Course was the 2014 Worlds…where Catrina won by two over Pierce after six full rounds, semi-finals, and a finals. Dang, Worlds used to be so long! Not only did Catrina beat out a 40 player field for the title, but she also started it off with a hot round at, you guessed it, Blue Lake Disc Golf Course. Sadly, as is true of many herstorical FPO rounds, there is no footage of that round! And it’s the only round they played at Blue Lake, and it was on the short tees. This time around, they will play 13 holes from the Blue Lake longs, and 5 holes from the shorts. They’ll also play holes 7 & 14 (traditionally par 4s) as a par 5s. Despite all those changes, after you do the math, they will still be playing a monstrously long par 66 track three days in a row. Predictably, that will favor our season leaders, Allen and Pierce.

​But don’t count out the likes of Sarah Hokom though. We can’t overlook her 2013 US Women’s Disc Golf Championship win played here on Blue Lake. She bested Catrina by only two throws after four laps. But of course, as you might have guessed, there’s no easy to find footage of that either. Hokom won the 2019 Pro Tour Season and Tour Championship last year, so she’s all but due for her first win against the full touring field. What better place to do just that than the site of your first USWDGC victory?

It’s easy to get in the mentality that the only game worth following is the best game around. I encourage you to think out of that spectator box though. Allen and Pierce’s battle this weekend will be a brilliant display of fireworks, no doubt, but don’t let those bright lights blind you from the rest of the awesome golf being played. The FPO division is swelling, and while few have been able to hang out with the legends for long as of yet, that time is quickly coming to a close. I don’t know much about statistics, but my intuitive emotions based read on the FPO skill level bell curve says we’re going to see yesterday’s outliers become the new normal sooner than you might think. Who knows, it all could all start right here at Discraft’s Portland Open this weekend. Don’t miss a minute!