Even when scores got out of hand on the UDisc Live leaderboard in 2020 and it seemed like tournaments were decided, the Road to the Championship gave fans and players something extra to follow. After all, who wouldn’t want to keep track of qualifiers for disc golf’s most prestigious event?
This year, the Road to the Championship returns, and it’s expanding the action to the Open Women division, with spots for the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship on the line.
What Is Road to the Championship?
Road to the Championship is a way to track which players qualify for the United States Disc Golf Championship (USDGC) and Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship (TPWDGC) by following along on UDisc Live.
Most disc golf fans know the USDGC, the annual Major in Rock Hill, South Carolina, that puts players through the wringer at Winthrop University. In 2020, the Women’s National Championship ran alongside the USDGC as a replacement for the United States Women’s Disc Golf Championship, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers have brought the event back in 2021 with a new name.
Now known as the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship, the event will again run with the USDGC from October 6-9. And just like the USDGC, the TPWDGC will be an event that players earn their way into, with two FPO players each qualifying at 15 tournaments throughout the season.
Throw Pink is a non-profit that was founded in 2013 as a way to support women's health initiatives through disc golf. In addition to fun doubles tournaments and educational clinics that have brought more women to the sport, Throw Pink has hosted an annual long drive showcase at the conclusion of each USDGC. For Tournament Director and Throw Pink Co-Founder Sara Nicholson, then, the TPWDGC is another step in the organization's evolution.
"I'm excited about the Throw Pink Women's Disc Golf Championship – it was the missing piece for Throw Pink," Nicholson said. "We're now helping women and girls at all levels of the game, from kids to touring pros."
One of disc golf's up-and-coming women's players, meanwhile, is ready to chase down a spot in 2021.
"I like the idea of women having to qualify for the TPWDGC," Disc Golf Pro Tour All-Stars champion Kona Panis said. "The men have to qualify for USDGC because of how prestigious the event is, so having the women qualify makes it feel more professional. I personally love playing at Winthrop, so to be able to snag a spot at the TPWDGC would be so amazing. I think it’ll take some hard work and effort to get a spot, but I’m always looking for something to push me to be my best."
As in previous years, at all qualifying tournaments (listed later on in this post) five MPO competitors play their way into the USDGC.
How Do Players Qualify For USDGC and TPWDGC?
The top five finishers in MPO and top two finishers in FPO at each of the qualifiers earn a spot to the big dance. Importantly, if a player in those top five or top two slots has already qualified, players farther down the leaderboard have a shot.
Here's an example: As the 2020 U.S. Champion, Chris Dickerson is automatically qualified this year. Let's say he wins the Jonesboro Open, and the other four players in the top five have not previously qualified for USDGC. Those four players are in, and since Dickerson already has his place locked in as the defending champ, the sixth-place finisher at Jonesboro now also qualifies.
The same concept applies to the Open Women division after the first two competitors qualify at the Las Vegas Challenge.
Who Is Already Qualified?
Since qualifiers are new to the women’s field, no players in the FPO field have punched their ticket to Winthrop yet.
For the USDGC, the top 10 finishers from 2020, as well as all previous U.S. Champions, are already in.
|Ken Climo||United States Champion (1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007)|
|Barry Schultz||United States Champion (2001, 2003, 2006)|
|David Feldberg||United States Champion (2005)|
|Nate Doss||United States Champion (2008)|
|Nikko Locastro||United States Champion (2009)|
|Will Schusterick||United States Champion (2010, 2012, 2014)|
|Steve Brinster||United States Champion (2013)|
|Paul McBeth||United States Champion (2015, 2018)|
|Jeremy Koling||United States Champion (2016)|
|Nathan Sexton||United States Champion (2017)|
|James Conrad||United States Champion (2019)|
|Chris Dickerson||United States Champion (2020)|
|Adam Hammes||2020 USDGC Top 10|
|Calvin Heimburg||2020 USDGC Top 10|
|Chris Clemons||2020 USDGC Top 10|
|Eagle McMahon||2020 USDGC Top 10|
|Garrett Gurthie||2020 USDGC Top 10|
|JohnE McCray||2020 USDGC Top 10|
|Kyle Klein||2020 USDGC Top 10|
|Nathan Queen||2020 USDGC Top 10|
|Paul Ulibarri||2020 USDGC Top 10|
|Ricky Wysocki||2020 USDGC Top 10|
Additionally, USDGC organizers extended invitations to international players who had earned a spot from their 2019 performance but were not allowed to travel to the United States in 2020. Those players are:
|Albert Tamm||2019 USDGC Top 10|
|Juhani Vainio||Alutaguse Open|
|Luukas Rokkanen||Alutaguse Open|
|Marion Kull||Alutaguse Open|
|Mathias Villota||Alutaguse Open|
|Silver Latt||Alutaguse Open|
|Chris Ozolins||Foxwood Open|
|Clayton Morgan||Foxwood Open|
|Josh Prine||Foxwood Open|
|Kim Scott-Wood||Foxwood Open|
|Martin Hendel||Foxwood Open|
How Do I Follow the Qualifiers?
For each qualifying tournament that is scored on UDisc Live, the MPO and FPO divisions will have a toggle button on the right side of the screen above the Throw Tracker. That button defaults to “on” and lets players follow the potential qualifiers from that tournament, which are highlighted in yellow.
What Are the Qualifying Tournaments?
Players have their first crack at earning a USDGC or TPWDGC spot this week at the Las Vegas Challenge, the Disc Golf Pro Tour kickoff in Henderson, Nevada. They’ll have 14 more opportunities after that:
|Las Vegas Challenge||Henderson, NV||Feb 25-28|
|Throw Down the Mountain||Brooksville, FL||March 19-21*|
|Lone Star Classic||Austin, TX||April 2-4*|
|Jonesboro Open||Jonesboro, AR||Apr 16-18|
|Dynamic Discs Open||Emporia, KS||Apr 28 - May 1|
|Foxwood Open||Ontario, Canada||May 22-24*|
|Santa Cruz Masters Cup||Santa Cruz, CA||May 28-30|
|Beaver State Fling||Estacada, OR||Jun 11-13|
|PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships||Ogden, UT||Jun 22-26|
|PCS Sula Open||Langevåg, Norway||Jul 7-10|
|European Open||Nokia, Finland||Jul 15-18|
|Discraft Ledgestone Insurance Open||Peoria, IL||Aug 5-8|
|Delaware Disc Golf Challenge||Newark, DE||Aug 27-29|
|Green Mountain Championship||Jeffersonville, VT||Sep 9-12|
|Music City Open||Nashville, TN||Sep 24-26|
* Event not scored on UDisc Live, but qualifiers will be displayed