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Returning to the Beast: Eagle McMahon Talks European Open, Mindset, and Staying Healthy

By Michelle Springett

Returning to the Beast: Eagle McMahon Talks European Open, Mindset, and Staying Healthy
An Interview with Defending European Open Champion, Eagle McMahon

By: Michelle Springett
Disc Golf Pro Tour Communications Coordinator

In a recent interview, we spoke with Eagle McMahon, the defending champion of the European Open, to discuss tournament preparations and returning to the Beast. Eagle shared insights into his disc golf origin story, the importance of the European Open, and his mindset going into the tournament. He also discussed the skill set required to succeed at the Beast, memorable moments from last year’s tournament, and the impact of being the reigning champion on his career.

Returning to the Beast, Eagle McMahon Talks about the European Open

Background – Eagle’s Disc Golf Origin Story
Eagle was lucky enough to share his origin story alongside his father. Getting into the game together is such a special connection between the two. 

“I started when I was nine years old. My dad and I were introduced by one of our friends. And it was about the sixth or seventh time he asked us to play disc golf. We were always hesitant because it sounded kind of goofy. We finally got a nice day out, it was in June, and we finally went out before we played our first round. We weren’t good. We didn’t really think all that much of it, but it was it was fun enough to come back and play more and more. It wasn’t until maybe a month or two later where we bought discs on the course and the person selling the discs gave us a few tips on how to hold it. And, how to get a little bit more distance. And then right then and there, that’s when we were hooked.”

Prep going into the 2023 European Open
Eagle approaches the European Open like any other tournament, striving to be his best self in the present moment. He recognizes the event’s special nature and how it highlights disc golf as an international sport. 

“Preparation going into the European Open is nothing out of the ordinary. My philosophy is that it’s just another tournament. What happened last year (2022) was amazing. I can only hope to recreate it, but I’m never going to be able to recreate my time there. So, it’s a new version of me, and I’m going to be the best that I can be in this moment because everything is fundamentally different from last year.”

Returning to the Beast, Eagle McMahon

Keys to success at the Beast
Regarding the skill set necessary for success at the course, Nokia DiscGolfPark, dubbed the Beast, Eagle emphasized the importance of keeping the disc in the fairway and practicing damage mitigation. He explained that allowing the game to come to you and avoiding self-doubt are key factors in performing well on the course.

“At the top of the course, you can score very well if you are able to allow the game to come to you and get on some hot streaks because you can string birdies together pretty easily out there. But as soon as you get in your own way and second guess your competence that’s when you could run into issues out on the beast.”

Past Performance
Reflecting on his experience as the defending champion, Eagle described the self-doubt he faced before the final round last year (2022), going head-to-head with the five-time European Open champion, Paul McBeth. However, he managed to overcome his doubts, dig deep, and emerge victorious, a moment he looks back on with pride.

“For me was going into the final round. I had a lot of self-doubt going in. And knowing that I was going head-to-head with Paul McBeth who is the five-time European Open champion. I just thought, ‘I’m gonna lose,’ like it was destined for me to lose. But I was listening to an audiobook by Cameron Hanes called “Endure”, and essentially that’s what I kind of did the final round. I rolled with the punches, and at a certain point, I just realized that it doesn’t have to be Paul to win, it can be me, and I dug deep.I focused, and at the end, I was able to pull through the European Open champion. So the whole grind of the final day. coming out on top was definitely something I can look back on and be very happy and proud of.”

Returning to the Beast, Eagle McMahon Talks about the European Open

Eagle McMahon’s DGPT Career Stats
Currently Throwing: Discmania
PDGA Rating: 1043
DGPT Career Stats: 55 Events | 89% Cashed | 38 top 10’s | 22 podiums | 8 wins
Current DGPT Points Ranking: 6th (going into the 2023 European Open)
Best Finish this season: 2023 Beaver State Fling – 1st place – Event Rating: 1059

What does it mean to be a European Open Champion?
While he couldn’t pinpoint specific changes or opportunities resulting from his European Open victory, Eagle highlighted the significance of having such a prestigious title on his resume and the confidence it provides.

“I can’t pinpoint anything in particular, but to be a disc golfer the dream is to win the biggest titles, which I believe to be the majors, and to have that on my resume. Definitely has been a dream come true. Definitely, you can use it as a certain level of competence. What to call upon when you’re in a tough situation. So that’s definitely been beneficial. But of course, you can’t dwell on the past because you’re only as good as you are now. But generally speaking, it’s just been a pleasant and good feeling being the reigning European Open champion.”

What’s sticks out to me most is his emphasis on the importance of focusing on the present and striving to be the best version of himself. Which he believes will translate to success on the disc golf course.

Who is Eagle chasing this week?
When asked about who he thought his biggest competition in this year’s tournament is, Eagle graciously acknowledged that it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific player. He mentioned all of the highly-rated players are, of course, his top competition, but wanted to give a special shout-out to his teammate.

“I’ll shout out one of my teammates and the best player in Finland, Niklas Antilla. I know he’s been chasing down Gannon Buhr. He was second place at the major this year. He’s a very talented player. So Niklas is someone to have your eyes on.”

Returning to the Beast, Eagle McMahon Talks about the European Open

Bag Changes and Eagle’s Injury
There are no current bag changes for the European swing. He continues to throw the same molds and focuses on maintaining his physical condition to optimize his performance.

“This offseason, I will work closely with my medical team to optimize my physical condition. So I can return to a similar version of Eagle that everyone knew and had one of the biggest side arms in disc golf.”

Eagle has been working on strengthening his shoulder after reinjuring it at the 2023 Portland Open. He also has a daily exercise routine that he has been working on to strengthen and act as damage mitigation.

“I’m about 80-85% backhand right now. I’ve returned to about what I was prior to tweaking slash injuring my shoulder that Portland Open. So if anyone’s watched me this year, they’ll see a very similar style forehand, up to about 360 feet. I work with a group of people to give me exercises, and I have a routine that I do every day to stay strong and strengthen as the year goes on all as damage mitigation, you know to strengthen that.”

Looking to the future, Eagle expressed his goals of finishing the current season on a high note, enjoying the process, and becoming the best overall person he can be. 

“(I want to) find the joy in every round I play because that’s been a little bit of an issue for me over the course of the last few years is if things don’t go my way I can get very frustrated. So I’m really trying to work on becoming the best person I can be. I believe I’m able to do that then I’m going to be able to be the best player I can be. So getting through the season with with that in mind is very important.”

Returning to the Beast, Eagle McMahon

 What Can Aspiring Disc Golfer’s Learn from a Major Champion?
Towards end of the interview, I asked Eagle about what advice he might have for up and coming players who are looking to elevate their careers in the way he has. Eagle emphasized starting small, competing at local events, and gradually building confidence and skill. 

“The goal is to have the big overarching goal of competing at the highest level winning the biggest tournaments but also don’t don’t skip the small stuff. Start small. Compete at your local league and compete at your local events and gradually build your confidence and push yourself to get better. And of course, doing it with a smile on your face and you want to make sure you’re enjoying the whole process!”

Eagle stresses the importance of enjoying the process and maintaining a positive mindset. Back to back tournaments can be stressful not only on your mind but also the body. Enjoy the game and don’t get so bogged down in the competition, and remember it is just that, a game. It should be fun!

When not on the course…
As for his favorite Finnish or European experience that he will be enjoying during his trip, Eagle mentioned the joy of relaxing at some of the lakes near the courses and the fantastic European breakfasts offered at hotels, which far surpass their American counterparts.

“It is fun going into the Finnish grocery store and walking around with Google Translate to try to figure out what everything is. That’s always a fun adventure. The best thing about Scandinavia is if you stay at a hotel, the European breakfasts compared to the US they are leaps and bounds greater. In the US. It’s kind of like you might get a sad waffle or you’ll get Fruit Loops and packaged Oatmeal. But here they have a whole spread of yogurt, jam, cold cut meats, eggs, and pretty much anything you can think of. That’s definitely the best food aspect of being in Europe.”

Relaxing in European lakes after rounds is a fantastic way to decompress for Eagle. Some of his favorite memories of last year’s European Open were diving into the lakes and relaxing on the shore. 

“I’m most looking forward to the lakes in Finland, and there is one close to where we are staying. There’s this amazing beach area with a dive board I always go to. Going there before or after a round to jump in the lake is one of the most fun things on tour, in my opinion. There’s also one really close to the Beast that me and my girlfriend are going to every day before the round to just lay down, relax, and soak up some sun.”

Eagle McMahon European Open 2023

Aspirations for future international competition & travel
Eagle shared his dream of playing disc golf in Japan, citing the country as being at the top of his bucket list. I could definitely see why with Japan’s culture and vibrancy, it would be a top spot for me to go play as well.

“I would say Japan because that’s one of my bucket list places to go in general. That’s actually first on my list. So if I was playing disc golf in Japan that means I’d be in Japan.”

Eagle’s positivity and excitement for the European Open are endearing. He also conveyed his optimism for the tournament and the weather. It’s evident that Eagle McMahon’s dedication, positive mindset, and focus on personal growth are key factors in his success on and off the disc golf course. With his talent and determination, he continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the world of disc golf.

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