Nathan Queen (Not Nate, that’s not his name) played like an absolute monster at the 2021 DGPT Championships in Charlotte, NC. He shot -6 day one, -7 day two, -7 day three, and -8 day four. That’s right he shot -28 over the course of a tournament where he shot the hot round three out of four times to move on each day. It was a resounding victory over players who had proved to be elite over the course of the season.
Nathan Queen was the 28 seed, the lowest by far to ever win the DGPT Championship. Queen is a fantastic disc golfer, but before his win 0 people who filled out brackets on Grip6 thought he was going to win. So it got me thinking, has there ever been another upset like this?
I started following the pro scene in 2010 a little bit when I started playing disc golf. But Jomez wasn’t around yet and the DGPT wouldn’t be around for another 6 years. So watching disc golf was a little more difficult than it is to access today.
So I’d like to look back at 4 of the tournaments from the last 5 years where I think there’s been a big upset. I’ll put them in order of how crazy the upset was.
#4. Colten Montgomery winning the 2020 WACO Annual Charity Open.
With a rating of 1012 that tied him for 40th to start the event, Colten had been having a slow start to the 2020 season. He had played in 3 A tiers without a top 10 finish before WACO and while he’s a touring player with good skills, he wasn’t expected to win. After a 1040 rated first round Colten found himself on the chase card. This was an event in early March 2020, and was shortened to 2 rounds. It was the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic in the US. It’s eerie to watch the video of the rounds. There’s virtually no spectators.
In the second round Colten went on an absolute TEAR through the course. He shot -9 on the back 9 with two eagles. It’s something that Colten was and is certainly capable of doing. But I think we all know how crazy it is to actually achieve your best score on holes for half a round. And there was added pressure on him as he was chasing/tied with/leading Paul McBeth and there was a 3 way tie with 5 holes left to play.
This was definitely a monumental upset. Colten hasn’t won since that day in WACO, but any DGPT win in a career is a huge signature victory. I rewatched the round the other day. DiscGolfNetwork is awesome by the way for having the full round uncut for me to review. It’s really a pleasure to rewatch such an amazing round.
#3. Nathan Queen 2021 DGPT Championship win.
This is a win that shocked pretty much everyone. Queen played 34 events this year. That’s more than most of the other players who were in the championships. So it’s not like he was well rested, but he was well tested. A wooded course suited him well and this tournament is unlike any other. You need to stay hot to win, and he picked the exact right time to get hot. Nathan probably had some expectations coming into the first round of maybe making it to the second round of play. After he put up a dominating score on the first two days he probably believed in himself a lot more than on day one. He didn’t have an NT win this year, but the DGPT championship was a great time to get his first signature win.
He showed that just because you have 2 additional days of rest doesn’t mean you’re going to win a disc golf tournament. I’m looking forward to next season and watching him shred Hornets Nest again.
#2. Cam Todd winning the 2016 Glass Blown Open
This one happened a while back but it was still one of the biggest upsets I’ve ever seen. You’d be forgiven if you’re new to the sport for not knowing 1x (2001) World Champion Cameron Todd. If you think back to 2016 it was a different time in the disc golf landscape. Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki were dominating the field event after event. Oh wait, that hasn’t changed in 5 years.
Cam Todd was 42 years old in 2016 and playing on the wide open courses of Emporia in MPO. He didn’t throw as far as any of the 2nd, 2nd, and 4th finishers (Paul, Ricky, and Eagle) but that didn’t stop him from putting on a big show and averaging 1-5 strokes above his average each round. To me it was a complete shock. Paul and Ricky battles were so commonplace every weekend that I didn’t think anyone could step up.
World champions don’t get to be world champions by accident though, and this taught me to never count them out.
#1. Barsby Winning the 2018 Worlds.
Who was going to win the 2018 Worlds was a toss up. Paul was a 4x and Ricky a 2x, the battle for them was going to be another legendary slugfest right?
Nope. In fact neither of them were on lead card the last round. It was Barsby, Ulibarri, Conrad, and Anthon.
I consider these Vermont courses to be some of the best in the world. I’ve played them and I think that the overall challenges presented by Fox Run and Brewster Ridge are fair and test every skill a player has. I’m glad it wasn’t just bomber holes and a long distance putting contest. This is what made Barsby’s victory possible. There were 27 players rated ahead of Barsby but he averaged 1059 rated golf, 40 points above his rating! He tore up this tournament from start to finish, finishing in the top 10 of the first four rounds and 12th in the final round. He never had the hot round, but Gregg didn’t make mistakes. He took 7 bogeys in 5 rounds which is something that you need to do to win.
He had played his first Open in 1999, so he’d been around for a long time before winning his first world championship. I think in the grand scheme of upsets this is huge. His skill sets aligned with the courses and he put up the rounds of his life in a grueling 5 round competition. I enjoyed watching those worlds a lot.
Since that win, Barsby has only played the GMC once. In 2019 he finished 18th in what I can only imagine was a very high pressure tournament. Fox Run and Brewster Ridge are going to host the 2023 world championships and I look forward to seeing Barsby play in that.
I think we can all agree that the players who won deserve their victories. In each case the player played above their rating and played great golf. It’s one of the reasons we watch sports, because we never know the outcome ahead of time. The best players may have an off day, or a perennial touring player may pop off for a round or a full weekend.
One thing that I did notice is that in each of these, Paul McBeth is a presence, finishing 2nd at Waco, Worlds, and the GBO, and finishing 3rd in the DGPT. Am I giving Paul too much credit and these aren’t as big of an upset? As always, let me know in the comments.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397