Canadian Bakin

By Brian HewittJuly 30, 2007, 4:00 pm
Jim Furyk is nothing if not relentless.
 
He is not the best player in professional golf. But he is the best grinder. And, in case you hadnt noticed, theres a lot of grinding going on in professional golf these days.
 
Sunday afternoon in Ontario, Furyk ground down the rest of the field at the Canadian Open with a final-round 64 that featured a spectacular hole-in-one, but was more noteworthy for its inexorability.
 
Maybe, Furyk said, its the beginning of a big run.
 
To be sure the PGA TOUR is poised for a big run. Next week the WGC caravan unfolds its tents in Akron. The week after that its the PGA Championship in Tulsa followed, soon thereafter, by the inaugural FedExCup Playoffs topped off by the Presidents Cup.
 
Look for Furyk to be in the middle of the mix in all of these events.
 
Meanwhile, the complete list of winners worldwide Sunday may have been the most interesting in golf all year.
 
Natalie Gulbis officially separated herself from invidious comparisons to tennis player Anna Kournikova. Until Sunday in France, Gulbis had never won on the LPGA. Kournikova, who shares, among other things with Gulbis, an abnormally-high number of hits on Web sites all across cyberspace, still hasnt won an official womens tour event in her sport.
 
Gulbis has been getting closer all year. She has Solheim Cup experience. And she has the estimable Butch Harmon supervising her golf game. The next step for Gulbis will be a major championship victory. Dont be surprised if it happens next week at the Womens British at the Old Course at St. Andrews.
 
Speaking of Europe, Argentinean Andres Romero, who made everybodys jaw drop with an insane 10 birdies in his final round at Carnoustie two Sundays ago, bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on a playoff there by winning the Deutsche Bank Players' Championship in Germany.
 
Romero has rocketed to No. 29 in the world rankings and No. 13 on the Presidents Cup point standings for the International side.
 
And lets not forget Tom Watson, who melted down earlier this month in the final round of the U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits. Sunday at Muirfield, Watson hung on to win his third British Seniors. Those titles will go quite nicely with the five times he won the Claret Jug for capturing the Open Championship.
 
Furyk, for his part, could be seen methodically climbing up the leaderboard at Angus Glen late Saturday. By the end of the day he had closed to within three shots of 54-hole leader Vijay Singh.
 
It took him exactly four holes Sunday to wrest the lead all by himself. Birdies on the first and third were followed by an ace on the par-3 fourth. The club was a 5-iron. The distance was 211 yards.
 
A dream start, really, Furyk said.
 
At stake: Furyk was gunning to become the first player to successfully defend at the Canadian Open since Jim Ferrier in 1951. Furyk was also looking for his first PGA TOUR victory of the year.
 
More birdies at 10, 11 and 12 increased Furyks lead at that point to three shots over first-round leader Hunter Mahan.
 
Singh would eventually rally to capture second. Mahan would drop into a tie for fifth.
And Furyk would move close to 35 million dollars in career earnings.
 
Perhaps nobody in golf, prior to Sunday, had played so well without a victory. Furyk tied for 13th at the Masters in April; tied for second at the U.S. Open in June; and tied for 12th at the Open Championship earlier this month. Now he ranks second in the world (again) after passing Phil Mickelson Sunday; second on TOUR in driving accuracy; third in scoring; 10th in greens in regulation; and first in top-10s (8).
 
Seven more wins and one major and we will be touting Furyk for the World Golf Hall of Fame. Those goals are eminently reachable. He is still only 37 years old. Maybe theres even a Ryder Cup captaincy in the grinders future.
 
Gulbis was more glorious Sunday. Romero was more of a continuing revelation. Watson more nostalgic.
 
But nobody was more solid than Jim Furyk.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Canadian Open
  • Full Coverage - Evian Masters
     
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
  • Getty Images

    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

    Getty Images

    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

    Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

    <
    Getty Images

    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”