American disc golfer Paul McBeth is the European Open 2019 champion. McBeth photographed after the finals at the Nokia DiscGolfPark in Nokia, Finland on July 21, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Paul McBeth, known as “the Tiger Woods of disc golf,” took his fifth European Open victory on Sunday under the beaming sunlight in Nokia, central Finland.
McBeth, who is a California native, had been pursuing the victory since the round one started on Thursday, after he threw the first disc inside the gate of hole 1 (18 holes in total), in the mouth of “The Beast,” as the specially designed course for the competition is known.
Other big names on his tail included American players Eagle McMahon, who came second and Ricky Wysocki who shared the third place with Estonian Albert Tamm. The best Finnish player was Jesse Nieminen, who came fifth.
American disc golfer Ricky Wysocki putting. He’s known as one of the best putters in the game. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Disc golf is played by the rules of traditional golf but with flying discs designed to fly far or shorter distances. With proper technique, the disc can be landed with incredible accuracy. The finishing stroke of the hole, the putt, is thrown into a basket where the disc is captured by chains.
In countries like Finland, the sport is enjoying exponential growth.
Currently, there are 682 disc golf courses listed across the country. In 2015, there were 420.
McBeth took his first European Open victory in Nokia in 2013. He took the triumph again in 2015, 2016, 2017 and, now, after the four-round tally, in 2019.
In an interview with Finland Today, McBeth described this year’s level as “incredible.” The other world-class disc golfers of the competition, Wysocki and McMahon, are common contenders for him in the US. “The three of us are in the top three of the world,” he said.
But the Finns keep getting better and better.
“They are real athletes,” McBeth said, “That’s kind of where the US is lacking. We had a different culture where the sport started.”
McBeth’s runner-up McMahon praised the number of spectators attending the event.
“I love Finland. You have the biggest gallery,” he said smiling and continued, “This is my favorite disc golf event in the world. And that’s saying a lot!”
Eagle McMahon (USA) and Albert Tamm (Estonia) spraying celebration champagne while Ricky Wysocki (USA) is simply enjoying the moment. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today