The third-ever Preserve Championship was at the Airborn Disc Golf Preserve (ADGP) from Friday, June 24 to Sunday, June 26, 2022.
The host facility is the masterwork of world class disc golfer and course designer Cale Leiviska – one of pro disc golf's top all-time earners. Leiviska owns and operates ADGP, and he's turned what was once a ball golf course into a disc golf wonderland. While most visitors enjoy multiple courses at ADGP, when the the DGPT comes to town, players face just a single layout called Black Bear meant specifically to challenge the world's best.
Learn more about the Preserve Championship below:
- Who won the 2022 Preserve Championship and who shared the podium
- How to watch the 2022 Preserve Championship
- History of the Preserve Championship
- Past highlights at the Preserve Championship
Who Won the 2022 Preserve Championship Disc Golf Tournament?
Bradley Williams and Paige Pierce won the 2021 Preserve Championship in MPO and FPO respectively.
Below you can see their scores and the other players who made the podium in both divisions.
For hole-by-hole scores, in-depth stats, and more, go to the UDisc Live results page for the 2022 Preserve Championship.
How To Watch the 2022 Preserve Championship Disc Golf Tournament
History of the Preserve Championship Disc Golf Tournament
On March 13, 2020, the Waco Annual Charity Open was cut short due to COVID and the pro disc golf season came to a screeching halt. At that time, there was no Airborn Disc Golf Preserve in Clearwater, Minnesota. In fact, the piece of property where it now sits wasn't even purchased. Yet exactly three months and 20 days later, the brand new Preserve hosted the fourth DGPT event of 2020. How that came to pass is an interesting tale.
After the COVID shutdown at WACO, veteran of the disc golf touring scene Cale Leiviska was on his way back home to Minnesota, unsure of what the pandemic would mean for the world and the sport he was devoting his life to.
Along with being an extremely accomplished disc golfer, Leiviska is an experienced disc golf course designer and runs the company Leiviska Disc Golf Design. He'd built plenty of courses for others, but he had long dreamt of creating a private disc golf complex of his own.
"I had been actively searching for a property for a couple years," he said. "I wanted something with water because I love to fish and swim and paddle."
Leiviska had visited with the property owners of an abandoned golf course along the Mississippi River in Clearwater in 2019 but couldn't agree on a deal because the ownership was not willing to sell the golf course without including the clubhouse, which Leiviska didn't want to purchase.
In a strange twist of fate, he learned that those circumstances had changed just as he was driving home from a pandemic-shortend WACO. His phone rang, and on the other end were the Clearwater property owners. They had just sold the clubhouse as an individual entity and wanted to know if he was still interested in buying the surrounding land.
"We jumped all in," Leiviska said. "Within two days I was up there signing the papers."
Suddenly Leiviska knew how he was going to spend his unexpected time off. He got right to work designing two courses at the complex he dubbed the Airborn Disc Golf Preserve. Once he knew that the place was going to be special, Leiviska contacted DGPT CEO and Tour Director, Jeff Spring, to make sure Spring would have the Preserve on his radar as a possible future host for a DGPT event.
"I remember getting in Jeff Spring's ear pretty early," Leiviska said. "I was telling him we just got this property, and this is what the Pro Tour was made for with an amazing facility for spectating. It was pretty much where I knew the future of the Pro Tour was headed."
Leiviska didn't know it, but hearing about the Preserve was music to the DGPT's ears. In April and May of 2020, the West Coast swing of the DGPT had gone from being in jeopardy to completely cancelled and the the tour needed somewhere to go when it returned at the end of June. A private course created by a respected designer and disc golf business owner in a state where COVID restrictions would allow a professional disc golf event to take place was the perfect solution.
Though there was some grumbling about how many birdies the course gave up, there was no question that the 2020 layout produced a thrilling tournament, and second-place finisher Simon Lizotte praised the design as being "the most fair course we've ever played on tour."
Given the return of the Preserve Championship to the DGPT in 2021, it was clear that the tour was satisfied with how the 2020 event turned out. But Leiviska hadn't rested on his laurels and had been hard at work updating the Preserve Championship layout to challenge the world's best disc golfers. Additionally, campsites and an on-site restaurant and bar, the Airborn Tavern, were ready to offer spectators a disc golf weekend they were unlikely to quickly forget.
Though it's only happened three times, the Preserve Championship is already becoming a favorite among DGPT competitors. The welcome at what some dub "Cale's house" is always warm, and Leiviska is extremely light-handed with OB lines, preferring to give players a chance to recover from errant shots with spectacular scrambles rather than docking them a stroke immediately. This has become ever-rarer in recent years at top-tier events, and, for many, the freedom to just play it where it lies is an extremely welcome reprieve.
Highlights from Past Preserve Championship Disc Golf Tournaments
Here are some of the standout moments from the two Preserve Championships that took place in 2020 and 2021.
2022: Bradley Wiliams Gets Second DGPT Win Six Years After His First
The 2016 Vibram Open ended on June 25, 2016, and that day marked the end of the first-ever Disc Golf Pro Tour event. It was also the day Bradley Williams went down in history as the first MPO winner at a DGPT competition.
Like the DGPT itself, Williams experienced some ups and downs following that tournament. Over the next five years and 365 days, he'd have some strong showings here and there at various elite events but never find the top of the podium.
That changed almost exactly six years to the day of his first-ever DGPT win when, on June 26, 2022, Williams took down the Preserve Championship against most of the top-ranked disc golfers in the world.
Though his weekend was marked by his extremely consistent play and soft, precise placement, perhaps the most exciting moment of Williams' run was a blind throw-in for birdie from 250 feet/76 meters on the course's hardest hole during the final round:
Considering June 26 is also the anniversary of James Conrad's 'Holy Shot,' the distance (which is almost precisely how far Conrad's throw-in was) and anhyzer angle of Williams' throw-in is all the more special.
2021: Tattar Becomes First European to Win Back-to-Back DGPT Events
The only pro woman who lives in Europe to brave the complications of travel to the U.S. during the pandemic in 2021 is Estonian Kristin Tattar. And the trip is proving to be well worth it.
She destroyed her competition at The 2021 Preserve Championship, beating the second-place Paige Pierce by 10 strokes. That dominance netted her a Disc Golf Pro Tour win that paired nicely with her victory from the previous weekend's Great Lakes Open. By getting to the top of the podium at two DGPT events in a row, Tattar made history by becoming the first European to get back-to-back DGPT wins.
2021: Wysocki Heats Up Cold Putter En Route to 2021 Win
McBeth and McMahon seemed to have Wysocki on the McRopes by the time the Open lead card reached hole 14 during the final round in 2021. Wysocki's putter hadn't been finding the bottom of the basket with its typical efficiency from C1 or C2, and McBeth and McMahon were tied one stroke ahead of Wysocki with a stretch of holes likely to produce little else but birdies.
But on the par 4 hole 14, Wysocki found his putting stroke again and spun one in from long range to get a birdie. The stroke changed the flow of momentum as it tied Wysocki with McMahon and McBeth, who both made errors on the hole that led to pars.
You can take a look at Wysocki's putt in this coverage from the Disc Golf Network:
2020: Lizotte's Hole 8 Throw-In
After 25 holes at the 2020 event, Simon Lizotte found himself tied for second and trailing first place by just one stroke. Playing well, he stepped up to the 1,110-foot/338-meter par 5 eighth hole with clear thoughts of a potential eagle opportunity which could vault him into the lead.
The Discmania-sponsored star crushed a drive but found himself slightly out of position to attack the green. He decided to attack the green anyway, but he did not execute and put himself along the right edge of the fairway with essentially no way to access the pin besides a miraculous high-arching turnover. Ever the crowd-pleaser, Lizotte attempted to reach the green on his third shot, launching a massive turnover high in the air.
As the disc flew, the focus on Lizotte's face turned into an expression of dismay as he realized what his disc was about to do. Instead of parking the basket, it flexed out at that crest of the flight and sailed far out of bounds.
There he was, over 200 feet/61 meters from the basket, throwing his shot for par on a hole his competitors were about to birdie and where he had stepped up expecting a birdie of his own at worst.
Watch below as Lizotte wows the gallery with an unthinkable par save in footage from JomezPro:
2020: Locastro Wins First DGPT Event
A decade before the 2020 event, Nikko Locastro was a dominant force in disc golf. There was even a time he was ranked and viewed as the best player in the world. Locastro never fell out of the spotlight. He was still winning tournaments just outside the top tier and competing at a high level but hadn't gotten a signature win in a few years, specifically not on the DGPT.
That all changed at the 2020 Preserve Championship when he outdueled Calvin Heimburg and Simon Lizotte to claim the first Pro Tour win of his career. Not surprisingly, the fiery veteran was ecstatic to be lifting the giant wooden bear trophy, sharing an emotional moment with Gregg Barsby and saying, "Cale, give me the bear," after he realized his putt had clinched the win:
2020: Pierce Averages 1009
During the 2020 Preserve Championship, Paige Pierce was as dominant as ever. She had just come out of the long COVID hiatus by taking down the Dynamic Discs Open and was clearly in unmatched form.
In round one she posted a 10-under par, rated as a 1012 round. It was hardly the first time she had shot a round rated over 1000, but it showed she had come to win. Round two was her worst round of the tournament – worst being a very relative term – as she shot 9-under par, which was rated 1003. In the final round she once again shot a 1012-rated 10-under par. This brought her event rating to 1009, a mark she only beat once more in 2020 following the return from the COVID break.
The victory at the Preserve Championship was her second win in a run of seven DGPT/Major wins out of nine events which helped earn her the highest rating ever for a woman: 996.
Notably, Pierce's 2020 1009 rating average was slightly higher than Tattar's in 2021.