Ledgestone 2023: Our Analyst's Picks for MPO Champion

Ledgestone 2023: Our Analyst's Picks for MPO Champion

The Ledgestone Open attracts the best of the best to Central Illinois every summer.

This year, 146 MPO and 48 FPO players will take to the courses to compete for the second ever Elite+ Event featuring one of the most coveted trophies and purses in disc golf. Each year a select few rise to the top in each division and establish themselves as contenders. Who will those contenders be this year?

Predictions can be tough, but we’ve analyzed the stats, examined the skill sets, and reviewed past performances to project who you can expect to see at the top of the leaderboards come Sunday. We used all of our research to break down the reasons why a select few players stand out as potential winners of the 2023 Ledgestone Open. 

We’ve organized the picks into three categories: Favorites, In the Mix, and Darkhorses. Scroll all the way to the bottom to see our analyst’s consensus pick.

MPO - Favorites

Calvin Heimburg - It’s hard to say the No. 1 player in the world isn’t a contender at Ledgestone. Heimburg hasn’t finished outside the Top 4 in two months and only has one tournament finish outside the Top 10 since September 2022. In his past three appearances at Ledgestone, Heimburg has an average finish of 6th place, including the course record at Northwood Black.

Ricky Wysocki - An injury-plagued season has cast some doubts on Wysocki’s consistent ability to challenge for a win each week, but the statistics support the defending Ledgestone champion wholeheartedly. For Wysocki, his advantage comes down to scramble rate. In his 2022 DGPT title run, Wysocki led the tour in scramble rate at 64%. Scrambling ability holds extra importance at the Ledgestone Open with two rounds at Northwood Black. In 2022, Wysocki scrambled at 80% to lead the field at Northwood Black. In 2023, at the two wooded tournaments he has played (Cascade Challenge and Beaver State Fling), Wysocki has averaged 75% which puts him right at the top of the field heading into a tournament where scrambling is at a premium.

Gannon Buhr - The young phenom has four DGPT wins this season and three more podium finishes. That alone makes him a threat anytime he steps on the course. But Buhr’s chances go much deeper than that. His Circle 2 putting has been astronomically high over the past four events. From the Des Moines Challenge through the Mid America Open, Buhr has made 59% of his C2 putts. At the 2022 Ledgestone Open, 25% of the field reached C2 in regulation with a putt for birdie, making C2 conversions extra important to separate from the top quarter of the field. If Buhr can continue to dominate from C2, he will give himself a leg up on his competitors.

MPO - In the mix

Kyle Klein - Let’s rewind two years to when, through the first five holes of the final round, Kyle Klein hadn’t missed a birdie and found himself in sole possession of the Ledgestone Open lead. A few hours and one massive thunderstorm later, the entire final round was removed from the tournament, dropping Klein to an unmemorable 6th-place finish. There are many who thought he would have, and should have, won that year. So why will he finally break through at Ledgestone? Parking holes. When Klein is dialed in, he is near the top in parked percentage. It’s no coincidence that he has led the field in parked percentage in each of his last two tournaments (European Open and Mid America Open) and ended up finishing on the podium.

Anthony Barela - Barela came the closest he has ever come to a major breakthrough at the European Open. The Ledgestone Open is his first tournament back since then. He is known as a bomber and Lake Eureka plays right into his ability to shoot hot. He has a 7% out-of-bounds rate this season, which is better than the aforementioned Ricky Wysocki. More importantly, he is averaging 4-under-par in his last three rounds at Northwood Black and is the only player to ever birdie the infamous Hole 12 twice in the same tournament.

Andrew Marwede - He is the best putter on tour; No. 1 from Circle 1X and No. 3 from Circle 2. This alone keeps him in contention at most events as long as he’s hitting fairways and reaching the green sufficiently. So in a season when Marwede has only cracked the Top 15 once at an Elite Event, what makes him a contender at Ledgestone? Well, the last two years he has averaged a Top 10 finish with a fairway hit rate of 72%. If his putting stats remain the best in the field with that fairway percentage, Marwede will have a chance to make some noise. In addition, he is coming off back-to-back A-tier wins shooting a 1051 average rating.

Chris Dickerson - The Discraft star only has one podium finish at an Elite Event in 2023, yet he is in the hunt to win this weekend. It’s because of his high-level woods play and ability to keep the disc in the fairway. He was third on the DGPT in fairway percentage in 2022 and currently sits in fourth in 2023. This bodes well for an OB-littered course like Lake Eureka and a long, narrow course with punishing rough like Northwood Black. In the two years since Northwood Black and Lake Eureka have been the Ledgestone Open’s featured MPO courses, Dickerson has shot a Top 10 round at each course during the tournament, but has yet to put it together all four rounds. Without a DGPT win in over a year, Dickerson is due for a trophy.

MPO - Darkhorses

Sullivan Tipton - His best career finish at an Elite Event was the 2022 Ledgestone Open. Now in 2023, in just his second year on tour, he has added two Top 5’s at Silver Events and two Top 35’s at Majors. Like many of the contenders on this list, fairway hits keep scores low and Tipton is hitting fairways 78% of the time which is 11th-best on tour. For an added bonus, Tipton is a member of Team Ledgestone and has the home team backing him at this event.

Silas Schultz - It’s called a dark horse pick for a reason. Like Sullivan Tipton, Schultz has yet to break through on the biggest stage. So why will he win the Ledgestone Open? Well, in his second full season on tour, he has one Top 5 finish. It came at the Champions Cup, coincidentally the only wooded DGPT tournament Schultz has played in this year. Northwood Black is the second fully wooded DGPT course he will see this season. If Schultz can manage Lake Eureka and maintain his 0.07 OB rate (14th on tour), he will have an opportunity to push for the top.

Analyst’s Pick: Anthony Barela

Blog by: Jacob Arvidson

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