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Battle to the Finish

Battle to the Finish

2024 DGPT - Copenhagen Open — Final Recap

Sunday, May 12, 2024 - 17:14

Eveliina Salonen. Photo: Marika Salmi / DGPT

Heading in the final FPO round of the DGPT Europe Elite Copenhagen Open. Eveliina Salonen is closing the gap on Kaidi Allsalu and is now only 4 strokes behind: this sounds promising!

Hole 1: A very precise Kaidi gets the birdie, and Eveliina's approach touches a branch and ends in OB. Easy approach, we are still cold... and OB again! She misses the putt, triple-bogeys, and is 8 strokes off the lead in one hole... The excitement is over.

Hole 7: two-stroke swing, bogey by Kaidi and Birdie by Eveliina. Hole 8: exactly the same. They are already at 4. Well, there is still something to decide...

We arrive at the very difficult hole 11: an eternal corridor of trees with a triple mando where the Finnish marveled yesterday with a drive candidate for the shot of the tournament. She pulls hard and goes through everything again! Jenni breaks the mando, Silva touches a tree... suddenly the tunnel seems narrower in our minds. Kaidi's turn... and she touches a very early tree at the start of the fairway, still far from the mando! Back to the fairway, damage control mode and her lead is shaved to only two strokes.

"Cancel the plans! Put it on the TV in the living room, it's getting red hot!"

The "ghosts of the green" revisit Salonen on the next hole: a strange 3-putt - perhaps a lack of commitment? - that she recovers with a bounce-back on the 13th to remain two strokes away from forcing the play-off.

Hole 15, Eveliina has parked a birdie and Kaidi is looking for it 8 meters downhill. We've all been there: training, we hit one after the other, but on "D" day, doubts and fear of the rollaways try to creep into our putting routine and... our arm becomes shy, the disc falls to the ground and with it the distance to a single stroke! "No, honey, I'm not going down for an aperitif, there are only two holes left!"

Hole 17. Basket on top of a mound and both at 9 meters: prudent layup of the Estonian, the Finnish goes all out... does not touch metal, rolls... and converts the comebacker without blinking. All stakes at 18th!


Kaidi Allsalu. Photo: Marika Salmi / DGPT

"Yes mom, I'll call you back! I'm very busy..." Little white lie and off to check the teesign of the last hole: an unusual Par 6 of 327m - 1,073 feet on which each of them has made a birdie and a par so far. The recent PDGA Champions Cup winner has a known distance advantage. Will she be able to make it count? In principle, even an eagle is a possibility, so a birdie does not guarantee 100% victory.

From the tee, it is the Estonian that gains a few meters on the fairway. Eveliina shoots first, with nothing to lose, and connects a huge and very well-placed drive. On her third shot, she could already see the basket in the distance, very far away... a tremendous shot; the disc is no longer visible, but you can hear the applause! It looks like an eagle putt just outside the C1 and a bit obstructed.

Kaidi is still very solid and parks for birdie: exactly what she had to do. All eyes on Eveliina: 11 meters, elevated basket... she launches a step putt, touches the branch, goes through... and in! Eagle at the best moment, explosion of emotion in the audience, and sudden death playoff!


Many international fans will be wondering: who is Kaidi Allsalu? None other than the Estonian Champion - which is saying a lot - and with outstanding performances at the 2023 Disc Golf European Open and the European Championship. Another European player to add to the list of candidates for victory in any event!

Back to the round: Is it possible to "reset" the mind in such an instant, forget the "negative moment" and take it as a new day? Island of hole 7. Kaidi falls short... OB short. Eveliina has everything in her favor, her drive bounces off the bullseye and goes OB long! Please, what an event for our nerves!

Next hole: a long straight corridor to end in a more open green. Salonen tees off: edge of C1. Allsalu changes to a more unstable disc and gets three meters closer! Will the "ghosts of the green" come back? Not at all! Eveliina nails it with a lot of power. Another 8 meters for Kaidi and the disc and her victory escape slightly on the left side... Heartbreak and euphoria get mixed up in just a moment, and the Finn winning her second Disc Golf Pro Tour Event of the season!

Silva Saarinen, who for several holes vied with Eveliina for second place, managed to hold on to third. Heidi Laine showed signs of what she can do, but the third round was a bit late to challenge for the win, but good enough for fourth: "I have a flu all weekend. I was thinking about not playing today, but a bit of rest and determination brought me to a really good round."


Jesse Nieminen. Photo: Marika Salmi / DGPT

Not Going to Be Denied

The final round of the DGPT Europe Copenhagen Open started with Jesse Nieminen and Paul Ulibarri in the lead. A two-horse race? Again, it's not going to be...

A real festival of contenders for the victory, in which early cards brought new podium aspirants with rounds close to double digits: Samuel Hänninen (13 birdies and 1 bogey), Lauri Lehtinen (remember his battle with Paul McBeth last year in Skellefteå?), Daniel Davidsson or Mauri Villman. As Paul Ulibarri said yesterday, there is no point in looking at your opponents: it's you against the course. Play your best game and the result will come.

Lead and chase cards were playing at a high level, and it looked like victory would come from one of them: Denmark's Hjalte Jensen again delivered a superb result but the first 6 holes of the first round proved too heavy a slab for what would have been a historic Danish victory and had to settle for T7.

Two juniors were battling with the seniors: the Estonian Roland Kõur T4 continued to amaze with his level of play, and the Finnish Eetu Tuominen (who has hardly played outside his country) was playing on the lead card and did not show the slightest sign of nerves.

Again, the 11th hole became a protagonist: Jesse Nieminen drifts left of the now famous triple mando and seems to have lost the positive inertia and the lead, but a last tree leaves his disc barely a meter away from breaking it. Stretching his stance, it seems that he can pass the control with a forehand roller to aim for par...

None of that! Nieminen asks the crowd to step aside and produces a magnificent sidearm roller through the crowd space in the belief that it will roll onto the green. He does exactly that and stops 7 meters away from the basket, albeit behind a large tree. A fine putt and what looked like a sure bogey turns into a birdie that keeps him at the top of the leaderboard and his confidence higher than ever.

Full Stats & Scores from the 2024 DGPT — Copenhagen Open on PDGA Live

Niklas Anttila and Eetu Tuominen both made birdies on the 15th hole - which decided the women's play-off - and the American Paul Ulibarri gave up another par that took him away from the battle for the lead, while Nieminen had to give up one of the three shots he had over them. There are only three contenders left!

Eetu hits a tree in the tunnel on the 16th tee, which takes away a lot of distance. Niklas does the same with another tree nearby, Jesse does not take the opportunity to seal the tournament by touching a branch; and Ulibarri delights us with a very technical roller and a birdie that brings him closer to the podium. Niklas's lie is full of pruned branches that he pushes aside, taking advantage of the rules, but he leaves one last one that crunches on his X-step and throws him off balance enough to make him end up in a bush. Another rival that seems to be out of the question, at least for the victory?

Two holes, two contenders and two strokes difference. We look at Eetu's Professional Disc Golf Association profile and find 7 victories... all in national junior and amateur C-Tiers! Can you imagine a first international victory in a Disc Golf Pro Tour Elite event? The pool of new Finnish talent is truly incredible...

In 17th, Jesse goes long and stays inside the bush at 8 meters with a basket at the top of the mound. The advantage does not make him be conservative, and he makes the putt that cancels Eetu's birdie, who will need a two-stroke swing on the 18th. Once again, the possibility of an eagle is floating in the air...


Already on the 18th, Nieminen is calm: he has already been through this situation - like last year's PDGA Euro Tour Alutaguse Open losing to Mauri Villman - and seems determined to make his advantage count: solid play always in the middle of the fairway the current European Runner-up elevates his arms to celebrate the biggest sporting victory of his career, his first Disc Golf Pro Tour event and his second in Finland. The crowd starts cheering: Jesse!, Jesse!, Jesse! Sounds familiar?

The other European DGPT winner, Niklas Anttila keeps pushing to the end and makes a birdie to move him into a tie for second place with Eetu Tuominen for a brilliant 1-2-3 for Finland and returns the victory hug to his friend Jesse Nieminen, who declares in front of the cameras:

"In the last four holes I've focused to keep it cool. I haven't seen these galleries in the U.S. and I'm very proud: I can't wait to play in Turku!"

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