Just a few weeks after the Grand Opening event, the new Tampere Disc Golf Center in Tampere, Finland played host to the 2018 Finnish Nationals. The best disc golfers in the disc golf crazed country descended on the challenging course for the four-round event aiming to determine who was the best in the country.
For Team Discmania’s Leo Piironen his eyes were set on another Finnish Nationals title after previously winning it in 2012 and 2016. It took a strong focus until the very end, but after all 72 holes, Piironen was able to easily tap in for his third Finnish Nationals win.
Piironen says the win feels amazing and does feel a bit special, “I’m now one of the many three-time or more Finnish Champions. Also, the course was really difficult and only a few players managed to play their total tournament under par.”
Piironen’s record setting 58 (-6) in the first round set the tone for the rest of the tournament and he never looked back, “I think [the early lead] really did help me. This time I liked being in the lead card from the beginning. I also knew that my first round was amazing and I shouldn’t be disappointed if my second or third round would be closer to par.”
Piironen continued to play well as the week continued, but his lead was never that large. Round two’s 63 (-1) helped Piironen hold a one shot advantage midway through the tournament.
As the tournament hit moving day on Saturday, Piironen’s lead quickly disappeared and put him one shot behind going into the final round.
If Piironen wanted to win his third Finnish Nationals tournament, he needed to rely on a quick start and that is exactly what happened. Thanks to five birdies on the first nine holes, Piironen was able to jump back on top, but the work wasn’t done.
As the number of holes remaining shrunk, Piironen was seeing his lead shrink as well.
“I knew that my lead wasn’t that big, but I also knew that those holes where the catch up happened were the most difficult ones for me,” Piironen said. “So I kinda expected that if there was going to be some catch up it was going to be on those holes.”
As Piironen carded bogies, others were taking pars and watched the gap quickly close. In fact, after a bogey on Hole 16, Piironen found himself tied with just two holes to play. A clutch birdie on the next hole proved to be enough as his 63 (-1) was just enough to put him on top.
After the event, Piironen says the Tampere Disc Golf Center is one of the most challenging courses he’s played, “Getting a birdie on a par three hole requires a really great drive, not just a decent drive and a great putt. Every par-four or five needs to be shot at least with two or three great drives to get that birdie or a par. One bad shot and you might be looking for a bogey or worse.”
Known for his putting skills, Piironen had confidence as the pressure rose. “I kept my game pretty safe during the tournament. I told myself that final round would be the place to make those demanding putts if so. When I had a really dangerous spot I just played it safe to keep my score as low as possible. I had really good trust in my putting during the competition.”
Piironen believes a few key Discmania discs made a difference during the tournament, “On a course like Tampere Disc Golf Center, I used a lot of my S- and C-Line PDs and PD2s and also my sidearm disc S-Line DD.
When wrapping up the interview with Piironen, we could tell just how much this win mean to him. His final words: “I’m still pretty astonished at this point.”
Team Discmania Results
1. Leo Piironen (-9)
10. Topias Kuhalampi (+7)
21. Oskari Vikström (+13)
31. Mikael Räsänen (+16)
35. Niklas Anttila (+17)
40. Tuomas Hyytiäinen (+19)
62. Juno Vähätalo (+26)
3. Anna-Sofia Haipus (+74)
4. Jenni Eskelinen (+84)