The 2022 Disc Golf World Championship concluded this weekend in Emporia, Kansas where Paul McBeth was crowned World Champion in the MPO division. This was Paul’s sixth time winning at worlds, but it was the longest drought in his career having not won a world title since 2019.
Final Round Recap
The final round on Saturday ended with a dramatic back-and-forth battle between McBeth and Aaron Gossage. Gossage entered the final round with a 3-stroke lead on McBeth. That cushion was gone by the end of hole 6, and McBeth took a 1-stroke lead at hole 10. Then the drama really kicked in as we saw the lead change hands or return to a shared lead on each of the last 5
McBeth’s lead evaporated on hole 15 where he drove into a guardian tree and took a rough roll straight into the out of bounds. He managed to save bogey from the drop zone while Gossage
parked the hole to take back the lead with an easy birdie putt. On the infamous island hole 16 at Emporia Country Club, both competitors landed just long of the basket on the island green with death putts back toward the water’s edge. Gossage was out by just a couple of feet, forcing him to take the first putt. Gossage’s put was just short, bouncing off the front of the cage and settling safely at the base of the basket. McBeth would go on to make his putt to regain a share of the lead.
On the long par 4 hole 17, McBeth’s drive drifted high into a tree that left him with a tight line between two trees that had to carry over 400 feet of OB in order to reach the basket, while Gossage tossed a near perfect drive leaving him with an open upshot to the green. McBeth laced his next shot near perfectly, leaving him with a 69-foot look for birdie while Gossage’s upshot left him with a long putt form circle 2. McBeth proceeded to make his long birdie putt while Gossage left his short, giving solo lead back to McBeth entering the final hole.
McBeth and Gossage threw near identical drives on hole 18, but McBeth was just a few feet closer to the pin, forcing Gossage to be the first to throw the nervy upshot toward 18’s basket that sits on a steep hill that rolls straight toward OB. Gossage then tossed the shot of his life—a big spike forehand that parked right next to the basket and forced all the pressure back onto McBeth’s shoulders. McBeth’s upshot was left about 45 feet short of the pin, leaving him with a scary downhill putt for the win. McBeth ran the putt and came up just short and the disc luckily sat down right near the basket after a short roll. Both players tapped in and took their shared lead into a playoff.
The playoff format called for the players to play holes 16, 17, and 18 over again until a winner was decided. A coin flip determined that Gossage would be the first to tee off on the island hole 16. Gossage left his forehand drive just short of the island, essentially leaving McBeth just needing to land anywhere on the island green to win the world championship. McBeth did land on the island, and after a lay up to the base of the basket, Paul dropped in for his championship winning par.
The King Has Returned
Despite somewhat of a down year on tour (by McBeth standards at least), McBeth got his first tour win of the season and resumed the position he held for four years in a row as the reigning
world champ. And while he didn’t seem to dominate or enter “McBeast Mode” at any point during the week’s competition, he showed the poise and precision of a savvy veteran who has been there before and knows how to win.
As I mentioned in my preview article, this year’s world championship was inevitably going to be about revenge for Paul. And those revenge narratives played out perfectly down the stretch as
Paul again entered the final hole with a 1-stroke lead that was again lost due to an again incredible second shot by his competitor that required him to again go to a playoff that again started on hole 16 that was again an island hole. And while you saw the ice in his veins throughout those moments, the fire of redemption was also in his eyes down the stretch. After hitting that phenomenal 69-foot putt to take back the lead on 17, Paul shouted and celebrated more than I can remember seeing from him ever while there were still holes to play. And during his interview with Terry Miller when it was all said and done, Paul’s tears and his emotions again were flowing more than I can remember seeing from him. They all matter competitors like Paul McBeth, but let me tell you—this one really mattered to Paul, and no matter who you cheered for this week, you couldn’t help feeling good watching Paul earn his redemption.
Don’t Sleep on the Goose
Aaron Gossage is a name you maybe didn’t know before this week, but I think you’re going to remember him for more than his mustache and his silky smooth sidearm moving forward. Had
Aaron found a way to slay McBeast, I had a whole narrative about avoiding the slump or hangover that one could argue we’ve seen from Conrad as he’s held the mantle of reigning world
champion. But instead of a weight, Aaron Gossage leaves Emporia with a fire and a bitter taste that I suspect will carry him to a phenomenal 2023 season on tour.
Some food for thought—ten years ago, McBeth got in the way of another young forehand dominant player from winning at worlds…and continued to get in the way until Emporia 2016
(there’s another redemption/revenge narrative for Paul btw). I know it’s bold, but I don’t think there’s anything stopping Gossage from being the next Wysocki. Go back and look at his scorecards this week—zero bogeys except for the coin flip island hole 1 at Jones Supreme. Gossage’s game is for real, and the sky’s the limit. Watch the post production, short version exciting finish yourself thanks to the great filming by Jomez.
Photos courtesy of the Disc Golf Pro Tour.