Stat attack!: RBC Canadian Open preview

By John AntoniniJuly 22, 2014, 5:05 pm

The Open Championship and the RBC Canadian Open have been held on back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour since 2007, and contrary to what you might believe, there is no British Open hangover. Granted, only one British Open winner made the trek across the Atlantic to play in Canada in the last seven years – Ernie Els missed the Canadian cut in 2012 – but most of the players who play in both events find some kind of success in Canada. Three Canadian Open winners – Jim Furyk in 2007, Sean O’Hair in 2011 and Brandt Snedeker in 2013 – also played the British Open. More than half the players who competed in both events made the cut in Canada, and four or more usually finish in the top 10.

Canadian Open results of players who competed in the Open Championship

 Year Total players Top three 4-10 11+ Missed cut
 2013 31 3 1 14 13
 2012 31 0 4 17 10
 2011 29 1 5 15 8
 2010 23 1 2 10 10
 2009 25 2 3 10 10
 2008 23 1 3 11 8
 2007 20 2 3 9 6

Now that we’ve alleviated any qualms about picking a British Open competitor at the Canadian Open, which of the 24 double-dippers (at press time) is the best bet this week at the tournament being held at Royal Montreal for the first time since 2001? Furyk comes immediately to mind. The fourth-place finisher at Royal Liverpool has won the Canadian Open twice, winning on the back end of the two-week trip in 2007. Here are other Canadian Open contenders who played last week’s British Open.

Individual performances in the British and Canadian Opens

 Player Best Canadian finish following an Open appearance
 Luke Donald T-3 in 2010
 Jim Furyk Won 2007, T9 in 2013
 Dustin Johnson T2 in 2013
 Matt Kuchar T2 in 2013, T4 in 2010
 Hunter Mahan T5 in 2007, WD in 2013*
 Charl Schwartzel T9 in 2011, T28 in 2013
 Brandt Snedeker Won in 2013, T5 in 2009

*Mahan was leading through 36 holes in 2013, but withdrew on Saturday morning when his wife, Kandi, went into labor with the couple’s first child.

Let’s keep looking at Furyk for the moment. The 44-year-old recently finished fourth in the Open Championship for the fourth time in his career and he has been playing well in the U.S. in 2014. He hasn’t missed a cut on Tour for more than a year and has six top-10s this season. He appears to be a lock to make his ninth U.S. Ryder Cup team, having moved to fourth in the standings after the British. Also, Royal Montreal only plays to about 7,000 yards and could benefit those players, like Furyk, who don’t hit the ball absurdly long. Keeping the ball in play and hitting to the correct position off the tee will be a factor.

Jim Furyk since the Masters

 Tournament Finish
 Masters 14th
 RBC Heritage T-7
 Wells Fargo Second
 Players Second
 Crowne Plaza Colonial T-51
 Memorial T-19
 U.S. Open T-12
 British Open Fourth

Another player to consider is Kuchar, who is also having a stellar 2014. The world’s seventh-ranked player leads the PGA Tour with nine top-10 finishes this season, and although he doesn’t have one since the Byron Nelson Championship, he was 12th at the U.S. Open. He was co-runner-up to Snedeker a year ago and was T-4 in Canada in 2010. 

Most top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Player Top-10s Wins 2nds 3rds Starts
 Matt Kuchar 9 1 1 0 18
 Jimmy Walker 8 3 0 0 21
 Dustin Johnson 7 1 2 0 16
 Bubba Watson 7 2 2 1 15
 Sergio Garcia 7 0 2 2 11
 Webb Simpson 7 1 0 3 18
 Adam Scott 7 1 0 1 11
 Rory McIlroy 7 1 1 0 11
 Brendon Todd 7 1 0 0 23
 Harris English 7 1 0 0 23
 Jordan Spieth 7 0 2 0 21

The third option might be Schwartzel. Although he hasn’t played great in the Canadian Open – a T-9 in 2011 is his best finish in three appearances – he is trending in the right direction after a T7 at the Open Championship.

The annual story surrounding the RBC Canadian Open is the fact that a native hasn’t won his national championship since Pat Fletcher in 1954. Mike Weir came close in 2004, when he finished second, losing a playoff to Vijay Singh. Weir led by three after 54 holes, but he shot 72 Sunday (with three bogeys on the back nine) and eventually lost the playoff. Provincial pride runs deep and Canadians took a bit of solace in 2013 when Brandt Snedeker won. His caddie, Scott Vail, is from Oshawa, Ontario.

Here are the Canadians on the PGA Tour and how they’ve fared at the Canadian Open.

 Player Starts Cuts made Best finish
 Stephen Ames 16 7 T-5 in 2005
 Graham DeLaet 5 2 T-46 in 2009
 Brad Fritsch 6 1 T-71 in 2011
 David Hearn 11 6 T-20 in 2006
 Mike Weir 23 9 Second in 2004

Nineteen Canadians are in the field this week, including amateur stars Taylor Pendrith and Corey Conners from Kent State, who were the co-Players of the Year in the Mid-American Conference, NCAA Division II Player of the Year from Barry College Adam Svensson, and Ontario Amateur winner Chris Hemmerich. Tour player Adam Hadwin, who was T4 in 2011, returns to the field as well.

One final note: If you’re looking for past performance at Royal Montreal as a predictor to success this week, stop right now. The leading finisher in the 2001 Canadian Open who is also in the field this week is John Daly, who was fourth 13 years ago. K.J. Choi and Robert Allenby were T-8.

If you haven't already done so, please follow me on Twitter at @johnantoninigc

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.

That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.

In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.

Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.

Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.

Johnson becomes world No. 1, starts season with three straight wins

Article: Johnson officially ascends to No. 1 for first time with Riviera win

DJ on reaching No. 1: 'It's been a long journey'

View from the top: How long will DJ stay at No. 1?

Article: DJ's star once again shines brightest at WGC-Mexico

DJ on win: 'Means a lot' with the pressure of No. 1

DJ breaks it down: How No. 1 won WGC-Mexico

Video: DJ withstands Rahm's rally to win WGC-Match Play final

DJ on beating Rahm: 'I didn't give him anything'

Johnson: 'I definitely didn't play my best today'

Johnson enters Masters as odds-on favorite, withdraws after falling down stairs

Article: After uneasy warmup, DJ withdraws from Masters

Article: Johnson installed as Masters betting favorite

Article: DJ injures back in fall, hopes to play Masters

DJ on Masters WD: 'Want to play ... it sucks'

DJ: 'I was playing the best golf of my career'

DJ welcomes second child with fiancée Paulina Gretzky

DJ, Paulina welcome baby boy before U.S. Open

It's a(nother) boy! DJ-Paulina's gender reveal

This and that: DJ and Paulina in 2017

DJ, Paulina make new music video on ski vacation

DJ, Paulina unwind with Bahamas vacay

DJ: 'Absolutely' no input on Paulina's social media

Watch: Paulina shows off pretty swing at TopGolf

Johnson adds fourth win of season, blows chance at fifth

As good as it gets: DJ-Outduels Spieth at Northern Trust

Johnson's HSBC collapse surprising, but not major

DJ beats Spieth in playoff to earn fourth win of year

Burr: 'For a great win there is an epic collapse'