Seppo Paju and Eveliina Salonen lead in Croatia
By Brian Hoeniger, PDGA International Director
The strength and depth of the Finnish disc golf powerhouse was on full aerial display today during the opening round of the European Championships at beautiful LifeClass Terme Sveti Martin DiscGolfPark in northern Croatia.
Playing in the 2nd last of the 36 Pool A groups, 2014 European Champion Seppo Paju birdied 5 of the final 6 holes en route to a 1062 rated bogey free 9 down 51 and sole possession of 1st place in MPO division. For 5 hours Estonia’s top dog Silver Lätt had held the clubhouse lead at -8, before settling for the 2nd tee off position on tomorrow’s showcase card. Rounding out that 4some at 2 off Paju’s pace will be Germany’s world distance record holder Simon Lizotte and Finland’s wily Pasi Koivu. 2016 champ Leo Piironen lurks in 5th while the “Great Dane” Karl Johan Nybo is among the 5 golfers tied for 6th. KJ also recorded 1 of the day’s 2 aces, slamming # 16s chains; Belgian Quentin Lammerant delivered the other round 1 bullseye on hole 8.
In Masters, another Suomi shooter, Janne Hirsimäki leads by 1 after day 1 on the strength of a 1021 rated 56. France’s Sylvain Gouge was looking golden at 6 down through 10, including the sole birdie 2 on the triple mando opening hole, but his luck ran out on 17 with a double roll away. He settled for -3 and 2nd place in the round 2 tee off order.
The blue cross of Finland’s flag is also worn by 1 of the MJ18 division co-leaders, Oskar Vikström. His solid 3 down 57 was matched by Estonian Maico Rimmel, who shot a stellar 81 points above his 932 player rating.
Turning to the B Pool, who played shorter tees on 3 holes, the now 18 year old FPO defending champion Eveliina Salonen turned in a sizzling 983 rated 3 under 59, which was punctuated by an eagle 3 on #11, and amounts to her holding an early 3 throw advantage over a trio of pursuers. They are her teenage compatriot and 2018 Finnish National Champion, Henna Blomroos, Sweden’s leading lady Sofie Björlycke, and up and coming Deutschlander Antonia Faber.
Continuing the Finnish onslaught, Anna Elo is in front by 5 in FP40, while Markus Tohni leads by 3 in MP60. In fact it is only in Grandmasters, where veteran Hasse Tegebäck of arch rivals Team Sweden is leading the pack, that the apparent spell cast by the Suomen frisbeegolfliitto over the competition is currently broken.
With tomorrow’s forecast calling for temperatures plus humidex in the low 30s C, we’ll see if the Eastern Scandinavian juggernaut manages to keep its Nordic cool or starts to wilt under the mid-August Balkan sun. Either way it’s bound to be exciting so stay tuned as the battles for the continental crowns heat up, and be sure to visit the event website for lots more info.