The Finnish summer was not in the mood for showing its best sides today here at Nokia, but luckily despite the chilly July weather, we didn’t see much rain during the Presidents Cup rounds at The Beast. However, the dark skies didn’t keep the Finnish disc golf fans from flocking to Nokia DiscGolfPark to watch the showdown between Team Europe and Team USA in the form of the 2017 Presidents Cup and once again we saw a sizeable crowd following the action on the fairways.
Fun fact: According to the biggest newspaper in the region, the Presidents Cup and European Open is the biggest public event held at the city of Nokia this year. That speaks volumes about the popularity of disc golf here in Finland.
USA dominates the first half, Europe the 2nd
The Presidents Cup format features two teams of 8 athletes, 6 men and 2 women on both sides competing together in two 9 hole rounds. The first round is played in groups of 4, and the best score within the group earns 4 points for their team, 2nd best score earns 2 points and the 3rd best 1 point. Team USA has traditionally been strong in the first round and this time was no exception: After the first round, Team USA held the lead with 19,5 points over Europe’s 8,5 points. The top performers on the first round were Paul McBeth (-3) and Ricky Wysocki, Jeremy Koling and Eagle McMahon with their -2’s.
Video: Paul McBeth gets a great birdie on hole 17. Find more videos like this on our Instagram account!
If Team USA has traditionally been the dominant team on the first half, Team Europe has typically been the one taking charge in the 2nd. The format for the 2nd round is match play, which means the players play against each other in pairs of 2 and the amount of shots per hole doesn’t matter, as holes can only be won, lost or tied. Today we witnessed again a much stronger Team Europe on the 2nd half.
Salonen & Bodova rule the FPO pairings
The reigning European Champion Eveliina Salonen (FIN) and runner up Katka Bodova (SVK) were the underdogs going into the matchplay rounds against the 4x and 1x World Champions, Valarie Jenkins and Catrina Allen. Eveliina and Katka were not scared against the competition though, quite the opposite. It only took 3 holes for Salonen to be 2 up against Allen, even though Allen was able to hit this great putt to save par on the very tricky hole 2. Fast forward to the 5th hole and Salonen was already up by 3. This was too much for the 2014 world champion and Salonen ended up winning the match on the 3rd to last hole.
Video: Eveliina Salonen plays a smart par on the Par 5 hole 8. Find more videos like this on our Instagram account!
The Slovak phenom Katka Bodova was also able to end her match against Valarie Jenkins on the 3rd to last hole, as she moved to a 3 up by winning the difficult buncr hole 16. We are very happy to see that the level of women’s disc golf is on the rise in Europe and Salonen’s and Bodova’s great performances today really underlines the fact that the reign of US women players is being challenged in a big way with rising European talent.
Europe’s comeback wasn’t enough for the victory
Over on mens side, the most solid performances on the 2nd half today were given by Nate Sexton and Eagle McMahon, who won their matches already after 6 holes play. Besides McMahon and Sexton, Ricky Wysocki was the only US player who was able to bring home full 3 points from the match play. Team Europe’s Teemu Nissinen won his match against Jeremy Koling, Leo Piironen took down Nate Doss, and KJ Nybo tamed the 3-time European Open champion, Paul McBeth.
Video: Teemu Nissinen wins hole 16 and the match over Jeremy Koling. Find more videos like this on our Instagram account!
With Europe winning 5 out of 8 pairs, the lead built up by Team USA in the first half was still enough to secure the victory with a total of 28,5 points over Europe’s 23,5. This means that should Team Europe had won just one more match, the Cup would have stayed in Europe for the first time in the history of the event.
European Open starts tomorrow!
While our media team is currently working on material to bring you a video recap of the Presidents Cup action, it’s already time to get ready for the main event of the week, the European Open. A full field of 144 players are already waiting anxiously to test their skills against one of the best courses in the world, “The Beast” layout of Nokia DiscGolfPark. The first groups will tee off at 08:00 tomorrow morning and the fan-voted lead card consisting of Nate Sexton (USA), Eagle McMahon (USA), Simon Lizotte (GER) and the 3-time & defending EO champion Paul McBeth are set to start their round at 14:00.
While there will be no live broadcasts from the tournament action, there’s still plenty of ways to follow the action online. We’ve put together this handy article for the online audience, with all the essential links for staying on the pulse of the sole European PDGA Major of the year. Congrats to Team USA for another great victory over Team Europe and make sure to check back for a lot more action to come as the week progresses.