Disc golf is one sport that age does not matter when it comes to success. We've seen top pros break into the scene and remain there for 15-20 years while competing along side teenagers. That is exactly the case for Mikael Räsänen. The 16-year-old member of Team Discmania turned heads this weekend when he won the 2018 RE/MAX Open, the first big event on this year's PDGA Euro Pro Tour.
Räsänen was in the mix from the start and waited until the final round for his best performance to beat the 100 person field. The win was Räsänen's first PDGA A-Tier win of his young career. Mikael discovered the sport in 2012 at age 10 and has quickly climbed to the top. He has to be considered to one of the best 16-year old disc golfers in the world.
Start Fast, Finish Faster
You certainly can't win a big tournament like the RE/MAX Open in the first round, but you can certainly lose it. Räsänen played very consistent golf throughout the weekend and was just shot behind the leader after the first round.
After maintaining pace in the second round, Räsänen came out strong in the third-and-final round with five straight birdies to begin the day. He continued to play smart golf and carded six birdies in the remaining 13 holes. His 1040-rated 48 (-11) was the best round of the tournament.
Räsänen says he went into the tournament with low expectations, "I have had back issues in the last few months and I have not been able to practice much. I entered the event with open mind to see how's my condition after a long winter."
Räsänen only had one bogey throughout the entire 54-hole event. That means 98% of the time, or 53 of the 54 holes, he carded either par or birdie.
"My game plan for the last round was to play with my strengths and not worry about the result. This time it was good enough to the win,” Räsänen said after the tournament. “Winning a tournament this size means a lot to me. I'm now more motivated to develop myself as a pro player. Mentally, this win is big and will be helpful for my future events.”
Räsänen says he’ll continue with rehab on his back before continuing with tournaments, “My next tournament will be in late May (Finnish Pro Tour event). I really want to get a spot on the Team Finland for the European Championships and raise my rating above 1000.”
Lastly, Räsänen said two Discmania discs were key to the win, “I did use a lot of PD2s and FD3s. Those discs were essential to my success in this wind.”
Remember the Name
We wouldn't be surprised to hear if Mikael Räsänen is a name you aren't familiar with. He won the Finnish Doubles Championships last year and has a bright future ahead of him.
Räsänen's win has a similar feeling to the 2015 Glass Blown Open when Team Discmania's Eagle McMahon broke onto the scene and had people asking, "who is this guy?"
Keep your eye on Räsänen. He'll be able to make an impact on the European scene before taking on the rest of the world.