There’s a lot of players in MPO who have a chance to win a world’s title. I’m going to look at the 10 players who I believe have the best chance of winning. The prestige of winning a world title is one of the highest honors in the sport of disc golf. At one point, for a single week only perhaps, you were the undisputed best player on the planet.
The tournament runs from Tuesday June 22nd to Saturday June 26th. It’s going to be held in Ogden, Utah. There will be 2 courses played, Mulligans Creekside DGC and The Fort. With Mulligans being played 2 times and the Fort played 3 times. The average temperature in Ogden in June is 82 degrees. Normally worlds are towards the end of the season, so this will be a hot one for players.
Mulligans is a wide open course that’s on a modified golf course. It’s long and has a lack of trees but lots of water. Like, lots of it. And there will be sand traps as well for the players to contend with.
The Fort is a newer course designed by Jade Sewell #64652 in 2018 and it’s wooded. It’s less than 7,000 feet on the PDGA website which makes it much shorter as well. There’s going to be lots of opportunities to score on both courses. The Fort will be where the big arms have to show their technical side.
I initially was skeptical of having the worlds in Utah. I remembered just Mulligans course. But with the addition of the Fort I think we’ll have an exciting world championship. I guess I’m biased but I love wooded courses.
So who do I think the 10 favorites to win are? In no particular order.
- Paul McBeth. He’s definitely in the mix at every World Championships. Paul is 30 right now and has 5 world titles already. He’s got power, he’s got putting, his experience, his drive to win. You know it all because he has consistently performed. What’s he got to do to win his 6th? Paul has to score consistently on both courses. You saw at Vegas how he finished 9th but he’s gone on to be top 5 in his next 4 tournaments. Then went on to win the DDO in Emporia. Those open courses favor other players with bigger arms than him. I never count Paul out, and you’d be a fool if you did. He has the desire to be the GOAT, and he’s got the skills. His key to win will be to keep others close on Mulligans and keep clean lines in the Fort. He hasn’t finished outside the top 2 at worlds since 2011.
- Ricky Wysocki. He’s a 2x world champ and Ricky has all the skills in the world to win. If Ricky’s putting is on he’s hitting every putt inside 50 feet and that’s unstoppable. He has a cannon for an arm and is top 5 in drive distance and putts. Ricky contracted Lyme disease at the end of the 2019 season and it took him a while to recover. He’s back now, and his Texas swing in April was masterful. After a disappointing 11th finish at Waco he took back to back wins in a Silver Series event and a National tour event. Ricky is also a Utah Open champion where he played Mulligans course. Here’s his finish in 2017. He may be the favorite entering the event, and if so he’s earned it. The key to Ricky winning has been and will continue to be, his putting.
- Eagle McMahon. It’s easy to forget that Eagle is only 23, he’s been elite for years now. Eagle does well in the early part of the season after his winter prep. He’s been first or second in the Memorial and Vegas each year he’s played the events since 2018. His skills translate very well to wide open courses where Eagle can outdrive his competitors. He’s taken down National tour events, DGPT’s, and is still growing as a disc golfer. After his win at Idlewild last year I think he’s gotten to the point where he can win anywhere, not just big arm courses. Eagles key to winning is going to be to set the pace for everyone else. He can throw the hot round and blow everyone out of the water. If he does that it’ll give him the boost to hold on and win Eagle led for the entire OTB. He had a scramble rate of 63% last year. Which means when he misses the fairway he still converts and saves par or better most of the time.
- Kevin Jones. At 24 he’s another young gun with a solid chance to take his first title. Kevin has the crush and the touch to win. He won the DGPT last season and at smugglers notch in the Green Mountain Championship. He’s got great power and a consistent putt. Kevin’s Achilles heel right now is his inconsistency as a player. You can check his PDGA page and see that he has plenty of top 10 finishes, and then he also has lots of finishes in the 20’s and 30’s. When he’s on, Kevin is a great player. If he’s off you’ll see him dropping lots of strokes each round. The key to his success will be similar to Eagle, get a hot round early and try to ride the highs, and also to make sure he has a coffee before each round. Kevin cashes 36% of his circle 2 putts which make him deadly anywhere on the course. If he manages to take down this title no one will “Woooo” as loud as he will.
- Chris Dickerson. The Robot Chicken is someone who has quietly put up incredible performances in the last few years. He’s infamous for putting up hot rounds in the last leg of a tournament. Chris has good distance but not top 10 in the world, his putting is solid. He benefits from methodical precision. His circle 2 putting is great, his OB rate is among the lowest at about 1% of his throws. The key to Dickerson getting a world title will be if he plays smart golf while others struggle. Expect him to play similar shots in each round and consistently do well. Dickerson isn’t flashy, but he doesn’t take big numbers. Only 4 players on tour take fewer bogeys (or worse) than he does. He finished 4th at the DDO and 7th at Waco. Chris is a USDGC Champion who seems to float under the radar.
- Calvin Heimburg. Would we see a rare smile from this elite athlete also known as Vinny?. He tied Paul and Ricky in 2020 with a 53% birdie percentage and to start 2021 he’s finished top 5 in every event he’s played this year. Unfortunately, World Championships have never been Calvin’s strong suit. He hasn’t had a top 10 finish yet which was surprising to see. Since he’s been on the lead card in 2018 and 2015. Calvin’s key to winning is crushing on the open holes where he out-distances most players. Calvin also proved with his 2020 USDGC performance in that wind and rainstorm last year that he’s great in bad weather. When there’s a bad weather round can he capitalize? He’s a top 4 player in the world right now. And definitely someone I expect to see on Lead Card at some point.
- Anthony Barela. He’s the name on this list that may or may not belong. He’s my darkhorse pick. And Barela is someone who at 20 years old already has over 140 events played and 29 career wins. AB threw an -13 last year at the USDGC in round one and then faded in the later rounds. He’s got incredible distance, a very sharp putt, and no fear when it comes to running everything. At the 2019 worlds he made an appearance on lead card before having a very tough round. Barela’s key to success is going to be making lead card, and playing a decent round on camera. I can’t stress enough that the DGPT has to feature new players. Playing on camera is an advantage for players who do it regularly. It’s detrimental to players who don’t do it often. If AB can figure out playing on camera he’s got all the skills to be a world champion. He did well at Goat Hill this year on lead card. I’m hoping that he’ll be up for the challenge of a worlds while being filmed.
- Garrett Gurthie. With an absolute cannon for an arm Double G can take advantage on the ball golf course, Mulligans. The biggest weakness in his game is his putting, making only 78% of his circle 1 putts in 2020. He’s giving up 10% to the top players, or basically two strokes per round in putts. Over 5 rounds that’s 9-10 strokes that he loses on the putting green. Gurthie will have to have the tournament of his life, but if he stays clean in the woods he’s going to be up there at the top. He hasn’t had much success this season, with more than half his events finishing out of the top 10. But I’m a believer that he can get his season on track soon.
- Nate Sexton. After taking 2020 mostly off to stay home with his kids, Nate Sexton is back! He’s renowned for playing safe golf and it’s worked for him in the past. He’s a USDGC Champion and he finished 6th in the 2019 World Championships. I had to look at his 2019 stats but Nate is Top 10 in Circle 1 putting percentage, has a 1% OB rate, and only bogeys or worse 10% of the time which puts him 4th overall. Nate doesn’t have the big arm to outdrive the young guns, but he does have the huge sidearm. If a hole favors a forehand Nate will eat it up. His key to success is going to be his rest, he hasn’t been grinding on tour like others have. Nate’s going to do well at worlds. His last 5 finishes at worlds have been 6,21,8,10, and 15. He’s always around the top of the pack. Nate’s just going to need a good week of putting, and others to go OB. And Innova if you’re reading this please release the 2021 Firebird.
- Nikko Locastro. Love him or hate him, Nikko is an exceptional talent in disc golf. Nikko’s been competing in MPO since 2006 and won the 2009 USDGC. Recently he’s won the 2021 Waco and 2020 Preserve championship. At the 2019 worlds he finished 10th, 2018 he was 14th, and 3rd in the 2016 worlds. Nikko’s key to success at the 2021 World Championships will be his putting. He’s famous for his long flex shots that give him big distance. He’s an 81% inside C1 putter, and if Nikko can stay strong there he’ll be around the top on Saturday. Can a bad boy of disc golf really be our world champion? It would be interesting to see.
Who did I snub and not put on this list? There are plenty of players who will surprise us at worlds this year and be talked about and hyped the rest of the season. Was it Gavin Rathbun who has turned in 4 top 10 finishes, or maybe James Conrad who has 3 top 10 finishes, and finished 3rd in 2019, Simon Lizotte a well rested German who could shock the world?
Or did I get it right, are these gentlemen the top 10 favorites to win the world championship?
Let me know who you are picking to win the worlds.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397