What Was the Greatest-Ever Finale in a Sporting Event?

As a follower of a variety of sports, I’ve witnessed some incredible finishes to events like the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the NBA Playoffs, the World Series, March Madness, and more. Today I’d like to add a new epic finale to that list: This weekend’s final round of the Disc Golf World Championship.

The footage of the lead card is available here and here, and I’ll share the context and the big highlight below.

Entering the fifth and final day of the tournament, the competition was incredibly close. The lead card included one player at -31 and three players at -30, and the golfers on the chase card weren’t far behind.

The day started out pretty rough for James Conrad, with him earning bogeys on baskets 3 and 4. Meanwhile, 5-time world champion Paul McBeth was playing extremely well, opening with an early 4-shot lead thanks to incredible putts like this.

Conrad followed with some great shots and started to find a rhythm, but McBeth maintained his lead. Over baskets 10-17, both Conrad and McBeth had 7 birdies.

Entering the 18th basket, McBeth (-39) had a one-stroke lead over Conrad (-38). The 18th basket is designed for interesting choices, and it starts with a difficult drive across a pond. With a great drive, you have a shot at a difficult, curving shot to set yourself up for birdie. With a decent drive, at best you must settle for a mid-range shot to set up an approach for par.

McBeth led with a very long drive that came very close to going out of bounds, but it stayed in, giving him a choice to go for a difficult shot to either solidify or risk the win or an easy shot to maintain his lead.

Meanwhile, Conrad hit a tree.

Fortunately, the tree was across the pond, but Conrad needed to miss that tree to even have a chance at a long approach shot. So he settled for the easy midrange shot, allowing McBeth to do the same, as it all but guaranteed him the win and his 6th world championship.

Wanting to finish on a high note, long-haired Conrad lined up for a 252-foot shot. With a bend in the course and the sun glaring through the trees, he knew where the basket was, but he couldn’t see it. Here’s what happened (if my timestamp doesn’t work, go to 48:06):

Pandemonium. Breaks. Loose.

I’ve watched this shot a dozen times now, and it gives me chills every time. The curve of the shot, the roar of the crowd, the awed expression on McBeth’s face, the spectators running onto the green, and even the fact that McBeth still has a shot at the win.

McBeth doesn’t quite put it in, and the tournament goes into overtime, where Conrad had aced the basket earlier in the tournament. Conrad didn’t ace it this time, but he had a nearly perfect shot and McBeth went out of bounds, so it was all over.

Again, I’ve watched a lot of sporting event finales, and I think this may top them all. It could not have been scripted better, especially since there aren’t really “villains” in disc golf. While McBeth has won a lot, I think most people were simply rooting for the best player to win.

Congrats to James Conrad, and huge thanks to him, Paul McBeth, and the team at JomezPro for creating such an epic ending to an excellent tournament.

12 thoughts on “What Was the Greatest-Ever Finale in a Sporting Event?”

  1. Wow-that’s incredible! There really have been some excellent finishes over time. Just today I felt like Switzerland’s ability to claw back to 3-3 vs France in Euro Cup was amazing…then when it went to PKs and Kylian Mbappe had the 5th and final kick of the first grouping…and it was saved by the swiss keeper for a 5-4 PK win…that was intense!

    Similarly, I’ll never forget the World Cup ’94 final. Hosted in the US, it was one of the first tournaments I was really into. I remember watching the final at your house–seeing Roberto Baggio put the ball over the goal and the Brazilians celebrate victory 3-2 was impressive.

    Reply
    • Both soccer games today were pretty incredible! And yeah, that was quite the final. I feel bad that’s Baggio’s legacy.

      Reply
  2. Mine are probably different from normal, like yours. 1976 Formula Season comes to mind. Nicky Lauda and his Ferrari was in a commanding lead over James Hunt’s McLaren going into the mid season Nurbering race. Due to a combination of the complexity of the track, remoteness of most of it, and torrential rain, Lauda suffers a big crash and resulting fire. He watches from his hospital bed as Hunt has no competition, climbing the points standing. Eventually, Lauda can’t sit by and lose his championship, so he returns to racing early, still wrapped up from his burns. Lauda pulls ahead in the standings leading to the final race in Japan, with another torrential rainfall. After being denied the petition to delay the race, Lauda chooses not participate in the finale. Hunt wins the race and the championship by a single point! Hunt retired from racing and started flying stunt planes. Lauda kept racing Formula 1, even winning another championship, though he never fully recovered from his burns. Though the movie takes some liberties, Rush is a pretty good representation of the events that don’t have video evidence otherwise.

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  3. Can we all take a moment to congratulate Jomezpro as well? They have been doing such an amazing job lately and I feel I may need to contribute to their patreon.

    With sports I generally root for the underdog players and teams (the Mets instead of the Yankees), but with disc golf I wanted to root for the best for once. And Paul McBeth is such a stellar guy as well, which helps. I felt so bad for his loss, but at the same time you really can’t help but be excited for Conrad’s first Worlds victory too and I love knowing that Paul is just as happy for him. Such a chill sport.

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    • Definitely! I tried to that in my article in the last sentence: “Congrats to James Conrad, and huge thanks to him, Paul McBeth, and the team at JomezPro for creating such an epic ending to an excellent tournament.”

      Reply

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