This week, beginning August 3rd through 6th, the 2017 Ledgestone Insurance Open presented by Discraft will be returning for what promises to be one of the most explosive stops on the Disc Golf Pro Tour this year. Both the professional men and women will travel from across the globe to battle for the largest pro payout in disc golf history, $100,000 and the right to be called the 2017 Ledgestone Insurance Open Champion.
Enormous payouts are not the only thing that will drive nearly 1,000 participants to Central Illinois this year. The opportunity to play on well-manicured, but challenging courses, gives amateurs the taste of what it’s like to compete as a top contender and spectators will be rewarded with a disc golf experience of a lifetime. The 2017 Ledgestone will offer the return of a fan favorite, the Festival of the Flying Discs. The entire family will enjoy disc-themed games, face painting, Velcro wall, a bouncy house, and food vendors all available at Sunset Hills the Wednesday through Saturday during tournament week.
The men’s division (MPO) will be played on the Eureka Temp course that demands the highest level of focus in order to manage the subtle undulations and landing zones that are a must for successful drives by the top pros. Among the greatest competitors in the game today, the top two ranked players, Ricky Wysocki and Paul McBeth will face off again. Their battles are becoming the makings of legend as their victories are quite often taking from each other on any given week.
Ricky Wysocki - Player Rating: 1051 Ricky is the number one ranked disc golfer in the world and has captured his second World Championship a few weeks ago. He is playing on a level never seen before and is as close to a “natural” disc golfer that the sport has seen. With the addition of playing smart, he truly has become unstoppable as a competitor.
Paul McBeth - Player Rating: 1052 What can you say about Four-time World Champion Paul McBeth that hasn’t already been said? He’s seen it all and done it all. He is a premier player in the sport. Paul and Ricky battling it out every week is what makes professional disc golf so appealing. All the great sports throughout history have had two players ripping trophies out of each other’s hands and the spectators will be lucky to watch the drama unfold all year round and continue at the Ledgestone.
Nate Doss – Player Rating: 1030 Three-time World Champion Nate Doss has always been a grinder. He isn’t the flashiest player. Hardly throws a forehand, and uses a anhyzer putt to perfection. He has had some great finishes at this Discraft sponsored event in 2016 finishing 4th and 3rd in 2015. He always plays the Ledgestone strong, will this be his year?
Gregg Barsby - Player Rating: 1014 Gregg has played solid golf in 2017 and finished top 10 in most of his tournaments, cashing in practically all of them. Gregg led the European Open the entirety only to lose on the last hole to Paul McBeth. He’s shown the world that anyone can step up and make a run at any tournament and the fans are waiting for him to catch fire this week.
The women’s division (FPO) is an electrifying facet of disc golf’s growing popularity. The FPO division has found itself in the enviable position of watching the field and competition expand with newer faces to challenge for a win each week. Names like Lisa Fajkus, Jennifer Allen, Jessica Weese, and too many others to mention, promise to make the level of competition higher than ever. I asked Lisa Fajkus, a strong female competitor, what the key to being successful at the Ledgestone is and she replied that, “I think the best playing style is someone who can boom the disc really far but still keep it in the fairway with control and it’s a disadvantage if you’re too aggressive all the time. Placement is key.” Lisa has played strong rounds this season and is looking forward to an even stronger finish this week.
Paige Pierce - Player Rating: 969 Paige is having one of the best years in recent memory and the season is far from over. Coming off her World Championship victory, Paige is brimming with confidence and is hoping to keep her momentum going at the Ledgestone Insurance Open. Although Paige is the player to watch, the female talent that will be arriving in Central Illinois will raise the bar of competition and keep her on her toes all week long.
Catrina Allen - Player Rating: 968 World Champion Catrina is now and always will be one of the best disc golfers to play the game. Her win at the European Open has done a lot to improve her confidence and show the fans that she truly knows how to play the game. If there is any one player who knows how to win at the Ledgestone it is Catrina Allen, winning four consecutive years, from 2013-2016. If there is such a thing as an annual tournament momentum, then Catrina has the best chances.
Valarie Jenkins – Player Rating: 952 Four-time World Champion Valarie Jenkins has been very choosy in her tournament selections this year but her finishes have been always close to the top. It’s difficult to compare her season to the red-hot charge that Paige Pierce has demonstrated and unfortunately Valarie has found herself on the wrong end of Paige’s incredible displays. Although second is not a bad place to finish, fans are more used to seeing the phenomenal disc golfer atop the leaderboard. Perhaps this year, fresh on the Discraft team, Valarie will bring home a victory at the Ledgestone Insurance Open.
The best disc golfers in the world will converge at the Ledgestone Insurance Open presented by Discraft and there of course are many ways to attack these courses. I asked Ricky Wysocki if there were any glaring mistakes that the pros tend to make during this tournament and he commented that, “ if there is one mistake that in the past, not only myself, but by the majority of the players is the hyper-aggression on the wrong holes.” Ricky was really candid as he talked about looking within himself to find the best shot selections and conquering the course. He went on to say that, “It definitely seems that conservative players play well and there is a ton of out of bounds so the long and aggressive throwers can’t separate themselves as much.”
The Ledgestone Insurance Open presented by Discraft for 2017 will be represented by five different countries including, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Germany and of course USA. The tournament will utilize nine different local courses in the Central Illinois area with live coverage being streamed on Smashboxx TV starting Friday August 3rd continuing through the final day August 6th. Along with a $100,000 pro purse, the tournament staff are hoping to raise $20,000 to go to St. Jude hospital. Please visit www.lisopen.com for more information and daily round recaps.